One of the challenges of getting the whole family to be environmentally friendly is that they take it so seriously. It sounds like a drag, as though it requires you to deprive yourself. And in many ways you should deprive yourself, or at least cut back, which to many is the same thing.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
1. Explore thrift stores.
You can find some amazing things at most thrift stores. Shopping at them means a lot less guilt since you aren’t buying new. And while you shouldn’t go overboard still, you have more reason to buy things just because they appeal to your sense of fun.
2. Reward the kids for turning excess lights off.
Chart it or make it a competition. Just keep a sense of fun about it and have a little reward for whoever does the best at keeping excess lights off. Getting to choose the game for a family game night is a good choice.
3. Explore the chemistry of homemade cleaning products.
Kids love seeing the reaction caused by mixing baking soda and vinegar. That they also make an effective cleanser or drain cleaner is quite a bonus.
Most kids love to get dirty and they love growing plants. Even if all you have is a kitchen shelf or apartment balcony you can grow herbs. My kids love it when our tomatoes are ripe enough that they can just go out and graze on them.
5. Play as a family, outdoors, no power toys.
Play tag, kick or throw a ball around. Just interact as a family. Oh, and make sure you turn off all the lights, television, computers, etc. before you head out.
6. Make crafts from things you would otherwise throw away.
Cut pictures out from magazines, grocery store ads and junk mail. Make a caterpillar from an empty egg carton. Make a quilt from old favorite clothes. Get creative.
7. Go to the farmer’s market.
A farmer’s market is often much more fun to explore with kids than the neighborhood grocery store. Keep the kids well behaved, of course, but also encourage them to talk to the people selling produce there. They may learn some interesting things.
8. Buy organic makeup, personal care and beauty supplies.
While many of these tips are easiest to do with small children, this one will appeal to a wider range of ages. The scents of many products can be a challenge depending on your kids, but there are plenty of options to fit just about any image yours are comfortable with.
9. Plan when you water your lawn.
While a lawn isn’t the most environmentally friendly thing you can grow in your yard, most people have them. Try watering your lawn in the late afternoon in the summertime, when it’s still warm enough the kids will enjoy running through the sprinklers, but it has cooled off enough that your watering efforts won’t simply evaporate away.
It’s not quite as efficient as watering after things have cooled off still further, but young children love to play in the water so much it’s hard to deny them the opportunity completely.
10. Talk about other things you can do.
Every family works differently. Get yours involved in living in a more environmentally conscious way in your own way. The harder you want to push on this front the more challenging it can be, but keeping the lines of communication open makes it much easier on everyone.