Tag Archives: environmentalism

How Do You Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change Without Scaring Them?

Climate change is one of those topics your kids are going to hear about eventually. If you think about it from a child’s perspective, it’s a kind of scary thing to think about. They take things such as the possibility that polar bears will go extinct due to melting ice in the Arctic very seriously and even personally.

It’s hard to balance protecting your kids with growing informed citizens who will care about the environment. Kids care almost too much for their own good.

Keep It Age Appropriate

It’s not always easy keeping talks about the environment and climate change age appropriate. Kids just have to catch a news story or educational program to start asking questions you aren’t sure how to answer.

My #1 rule has always been to keep it honest but age appropriate.

Try to focus on the things you can do as a family to help the environment. Discuss using less, recycling, driving less and so forth. Talk about why you make the choices you do.

As kids get old enough, start looking for appropriate volunteer opportunities. If your child has a particular interest, try to have the opportunity match it.

You can also help kids to learn the difference between climate and weather. This is one of those things it seems many adults have trouble with, but it could be an advantage in discussions if your kids do understand that weather is short term and climate is long term.

Get Into Nature

Kids will appreciate nature more if they see it in person. Not just the backyard or the local playground, go hiking and camping. If there are campgrounds in your area, you shouldn’t need to go far.

Try making hiking and camping a part of family vacations, especially if you travel to an unfamiliar place. Talk about how things change from place to place.

If you happen to know how climate change is impacting an area you’re in, you can talk about the evidence for it. It’s not always definite enough to blame changes on climate change, but other times you can see that the climate of an area is not what it used to be.

Talk About Local Issues

Climate change is not all about polar bears dying and glaciers melting. It’s also about what’s happening in your own area.

Is water becoming an issue? How has climate change effected winters in your area?

Find out together what’s going on with your local climate. If you don’t know much about the local situation already, you may learn some really interesting things yourself.

Read a Book Together

There are a range of books available that can help you to discuss climate change basics with your kids, all the way up to more advanced discussions. A good book can explain climate change in ways you probably won’t think of on your own. Here are some titles to consider buying or looking for at your local library:

The Magic School Bus And The Climate Challenge
A Kids’ Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming: How to Take Action!
How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming
Mission: Planet Earth: Our World and Its Climate–and How Humans Are Changing Them
Climate: Causes and Effects of Climate Change (Our Fragile Planet)

Is Being Eco Friendly Just Too Much Effort?

How do you think of being eco friendly. Is it something that’s just a part of your day or is it something that takes a lot of work? How you view it is probably a big part of whether or not you’re succeeding at being green.

It’s Too Much Work!

Work. Effort. Time consuming. Expensive. Inconvenient.

Those are some of the ways many people see being eco friendly. It’s no wonder people don’t want to concern themselves about the environment when that’s how they see the steps required.

And it’s true of some eco friendly things you can do. Having your own organic garden takes work and is time consuming. Organic and local produce can be expensive and inconvenient. Putting in solar panels is expensive at the start. Reusing things instead of throwing them away is time consuming and may be inconvenient.

Thank goodness not everything that’s eco friendly is really hard to do.

Some things take just a small step and they become easy. Switch your incandescent bulbs for CFLs and you’re saving energy with no extra effort. If you find the bulbs discounted by your local power company they aren’t even particularly expensive.

If your recyclables all go into one bin, having a recycle bin next to your trash cans is easy. It’s a small inconvenience having to empty two cans instead of one, but it’s overall not that hard to manage.

Turning out the lights as you leave a room is easy once you build the habit.

Organizing your errands so that you drive less actually saves you time. It also saves gas, which means you spend less money.

Adjusting the thermostat is easy and saves money. An extra sweater in winter or dressing a little cooler in summer while letting your body adjust to warmer temperatures is surprisingly easy.

Some efforts can become a pleasure. If you like being outdoors or just want to be a bit more active, that garden can provide that while producing wonderful vegetables for you that are far superior to what you can buy at the store. It’s not heavy exercise once you’re done with the digging, but it’s getting you off the couch and into the fresh air.

Isn’t that what parents are always trying to get kids to do? It’s still good advice.

Take Small Steps

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, just pick one simple green step to start yourself off. Small changes are easier to make than big ones. When you’re comfortable, add another, then another.

There’s not much in life that comes with no effort at all. That’s true even of your bad habits. Put in a little more effort and build better ones.

What to Do for Earth Day?

Today is Earth Day. These days I find it to be an interesting combination between environmental concern and consumerism. So many companies take the opportunity to greenwash.

That’s not to say there aren’t good things to buy for Earth Day. If there’s a truly green change you’re wanting to make it’s a good time to do it.

For example, you might choose to use more energy efficient lightbulbs, such as CFLs. You might change laundry detergents. You might switch from a gas powered lawn mower to a push mower. You might buy a composter and start composting. You might switch to a low flow showerhead.

You get the idea. Just be sure that you’re really making an environmentally sound choice, not falling for greenwashing. There’s a lot of that out there.

If you’re living a generally green life already, you may feel like there’s not much to be done to improve your home, at least not within your current budget. That’s fine. There’s plenty more you can do.

There are Earth Day events in most communities. Some will be today, others on the weekend. Last year, for example, my family and I attended an event where people were able to help plant trees in an area that had burned in a wildfire. Our kids were too tired that day to help, but they enjoyed the educational parts of the event and a short hike through the nature reserve.

You can also encourage people you know to get more involved. One day doesn’t do much for the planet, but if you can use it to get people who aren’t thinking about the environment to consider it more, you could help with the problem. These things take time, after all.

Teens Gone Green?

My kids are quite a bit too young for this one, but there’s a book about to come out that might be a welcome gift to any green teen you know. It’s called The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet.

Obviously, I can’t review the book; it’s not out yet. But it looks promising. The description says it will give tips on making eco-friendly decisions on a tight budget and schedule and how to get concerns recognized by decision makers.

Given that kids these days are very aware of the need to help the environment, I’m glad to see a book like this coming out.

Parents, what other titles do you recommend for teens? What about younger children?

Environmentalism the Lazy Way

Is there such a thing?

That depends on how you define environmentalism. There are so many levels to being green, and some really don’t go well with being lazy about it.

Especially if you really want to make a difference.

But if you don’t have the time to really focus on making a difference, but want to change your own consumption levels, there are things you can do. You can buy a book or get it at the library. Books such as The Lazy Environmentalist and It’s Easy Being Green cover some of the ways any of us can go green.

If nothing else, they’re probably great gifts for friends and family who don’t know how to get started.

Of course, the best thing you can do for the environment is to consume less. That may be one of the most challenging things too. It’s hard to break habits when you grew up in  a time where most people thought nothing of buying anything they needed or wanted, ignoring both the environment and financial common sense in a lot of cases.

Next best is to buy used when possible. That’s really not so hard, and some thrift and resale shops have amazing finds in them.

Using handmedowns counts the same as buying used, of course, except you don’t get to shop around.

We do this a lot in my family, and are working on being more deliberate about it. We’re talking toy and movie swaps between families, because, let’s face it, between Christmas and birthdays, friends and relatives, kids these days get way too much stuff. We can decrease the amount of stuff we as parents buy with appropriate trading and handing down.

Steps keep getting bigger as you go, but for many that’s the way to start. You do the lazy things first and then realize that some of what you thought was too hard is starting to make sense.