Our children are tomorrow’s adults and the generation that has to deal with our bad decisions today. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can turn your home into an eco-friendly refuge while teaching your kids about conservation all without going broke in the process. Keep reading for the best ideas and projects you can start right now.
Getting to know Mother Nature
The single most important thing you can do with your children is to teach them the importance of environmental stewardship. For young kids, the best way to do this is by hosting an environmental scavenger hunt. Make a list of items your children can find in their own backyard or neighborhood. This might include leaves, flowers, bees, bodies of water, or community gardens. As you locate each item, talk to your kids about how these aspects of nature correlate to each other to create our world.
Garden fun and water conservation
Growing a garden is an exceptional way to bring positive environmental changes into your home. It’s also a fun and engaging activity for children of all ages. And your garden is the perfect backdrop for an education on environmental awareness. Teach your children about water conservation by building your own rainwater collection system. This could be something as simple as routing your gutters into a clean 96-gallon trash can, or you can set up a more elaborate system that involves multiple tanks. Use this water to irrigate the garden in lieu of turning on the hose. HomeAdvisor notes that used dishwater may also be recycled to clean other areas of the home such as lawn furniture. Indoors, the kids can help by turning off water, lights, and power when these things are not in use. When brushing teeth, water can be turned off to save up to 200 gallons each month, according to NC State University.
Maintaining a spring, summer, and fall garden is also a great way to cut down trips to the grocery store, which will reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of emissions your family creates driving. Grocery store produce, although bright and beautiful, is also riddled with pesticides and insecticides that can damage the land where it’s grown.
Lights out and grab a blanket
Our parents taught us to turn the lights out when we weren’t in the room, but that’s about as far as our energy-savings education went. This remains sound advice if you’re still using incandescent or halogen light bulbs. Incandescent lighting, according to Energy.gov, emits energy as heat. Turning them off when you’re not in the room will lower your energy bills and keep the room a more constant temperature. Your kids can practice this by making a game of turning lights off when they see someone exit one room and enter another.
Another area where children can keep a watchful eye on your home’s energy consumption is your HVAC system. Assign them the task of turning the thermostat to 68° during the day and to 65° or cooler at night during the winter. If you’re not going to be home, turn it down even more. The Chicago Tribune notes that a 10° temperature drop could save you 10% or more on your energy bills, which can be significant over the course of a year. If you live in a warmer climate, consider using passive heating and cooling methods to keep your home’s temperature comfortable.
By teaching your children ways to conserve resources for today, you are one step closer to ensuring they have what they need for tomorrow. You don’t have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle, and you may even save a few dollars along the way. But more important than money, you are instilling strong values in your children that will last a lifetime.
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