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Why Environmental Education is Important for Children

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The world our children are growing up in is changing in so many ways. Future generations are going to be faced with rising sea levels, an increase in the number of natural disasters, climate change, the loss of agricultural land, and a reduction in biodiversity. Tropical diseases will extend their reach, countries and factions will compete over decreasing fresh water supplies and more and more people will become migrants and refugees as parts of their homelands become uninhabitable. Those are big challenges for society to face. Our children need to be ready – they need to be educated.

Global, national, personal
Although these issues might seem overwhelming, there are things that national governments can do to reduce the rate of climate change and deal effectively with its consequences. Our children are the generation that will need to take charge of this. They will need the know-how to develop effective policies. They’ll also be able to make changes at a personal level, from adopting more eco-friendly diets to driving electric cars, insulating their homes, generating their own eco-friendly energy, and recycling, repairing and repurposing the things they buy.

Introducing environmental issues
Helping children to engage with environmentalism starts with small things. Keeping pets – even small animals – helps them to understand the relationship between the individual and the environment. Going on nature trips helps them see how different factors in the environment interact. Craft projects can help them to become enthusiastic about recycling even when they’re too young to understand why it matters, and as they get older environmental education can become a part of their schooling, enriching their perspective on biology, chemistry, geography, engineering and more. Principles derived from environmentalism also give them the ability to see how all the subjects they learn fit together, building cross-disciplinary skills that give them an advantage in a changing economy.

Educating the public
Children attending good schools get to learn about environmental issues and what they can do to make the world better, but it’s still important to find ways of reaching out to people more widely, so part of what schools need to teach is how to do effective outreach work. Students from Stamford American international school in Singapore contributed to a video promoting Global Earth Hour in 2016, helping people around the world to understand why protecting the environment matters. It was a year in which over 400,000 people engaged with Earth Day educational events in the US alone, but there are billions of people who still need to be persuaded to change the way they live, so every effort matters.

Inheriting the Earth
Educating young people not only prepares them for what they will inherit – it helps to give them a voice in the present. That means adults who are careless about the environment have to deal here and now with the people who will live with their mistakes, which is in itself a way of bringing about change. Properly educated well-informed children can speak up for themselves and defend their future.

 

 

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

5-eco-friendly-ways-to-plan-for-thanksgiving-dinner

Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you hosting the big dinner this year? There are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone in your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that are imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass resuable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

4 Fall Inspired Eco-Friendly Art Projects for Green Kids

I love fall – it is my favorite season. Have I mentioned that before? Ha! I love the colors, textures, and find myself crafting with Eben more during the autumn season. With that being said, the artwork really piles up around here. Many pieces get photographed and recycled, however there are pieces that we love so much we want to keep and display. Here are 4 fall inspired art projects that we have enjoyed over the year and thought they might inspire you this autumn:

1. Baker’s Twine Apple
Whenever I work with baker’s twine, it seems like I am left with a few scraps that I keep for craft projects. I recently came across an amazing baker’s twine apple project that would be perfect for those leftovers. I adore it!

+ Baker’s Twine Art
+ Domestically Speaking

2. Button Art
If you have a large button collection – this is the project for you! I love the different colors and sizes – I think it would be fun to do a set of four, one for each season, arranged on a wall together. This would be a perfect project for children of all ages too!

+ Button Art
+ Diane Payne

3. Leaf Prints
Eben loved this project because it incorporated a nature walk and pigment paints. This is a project that we tend to make over and over again each fall. It’s easy, a fun way to get our hands dirty and the perfect excuse for working together after school.

+ Leaf Prints

4. Alphabet Leaf Animals
Again, this is the perfect fall project for kids! It gets their creative juices flowing as they arrange the leaves into different animal shapes. I have to admit, Eben is much better at this than me – he is fantastic as seeing things that I never would. Are your kids like this?

+ Leaf Animal Prints

What fall inspired art project are you and your children working on?

7 Easy Ways to Adopt a More Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

Although everyone celebrates Earth Day on April 22, there are so many opportunities to help “keep it green” all year-round! For those who want to adopt an eco-friendlier attitude throughout the year, there is more you can do than just recycling cans and plastic bottles. You can adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle and attitude.

The benefit of adopting an eco-friendly attitude is not just related to conserving resources and the environment. In fact, the therapeutic and preventative effects of eco-friendly choices can be reflected in human health. Humans who eat organic meat and pesticide-free vegetables, for example, avoid ingesting harmful chemicals and hormones that interfere with the body’s natural ability to digest and process food. However, an organic diet is not the only path to a healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle. By following some of these tips below, you can help conserve the Earth’s natural resources, positively improve your health, and maybe even save a little money as well.

#1: Adopt a Natural Cosmetic Routine
There are so many chemicals that go into the average cosmetic product. By using natural products, you will be reducing the chemicals that you are putting on your skin, and eventually into the Earth. You can also adopt green habits by purchasing fewer beauty products in general, and by looking for products with two-in-one capabilities, for example, a conditioning shampoo. Why use two plastic bottles when one will do?

#2: Exchange Traditional Eyewear for Laser Surgery
Laser eye surgery has gone from being a luxury to a common and reliable procedure that makes glasses and contact lenses a thing of the past. Laser surgery corrects the cornea, so light falls accurately on the retina. By exchange your eyewear for laser surgery, you will be saving the materials necessary to make the glasses or contacts, as well as the fluid needed to clean them on a daily or monthly basis. If you need advice on the advantages of exchanging conventional contact lenses with surgery, you can find Lasik consultations in Minneapolis and many other states across the country.

#3: Eat in Season
Although most fruits and vegetables are now available year-round in the average grocery store, you can usually spot the ones that are in season. They are the juiciest, most delicious looking ones in the store. Eating vegetables that are grown in the appropriate season reduces the likelihood of ingesting harmful preservatives that are used to keep produce fresh during long distance travel. And not only that, seasonal produce usually tastes way better too!

#4: Exchange Cotton for Bamboo
Cotton is probably one of the most used fabrics on Earth but to grow it, you need a huge amount of water. There is an alternative to using cotton, however. Bamboo can be used to create an incredibly soft fabric that is fast becoming a popular choice for bedsheets and pillow cases. Bamboo is not only soft and requires less water to grow, it also absorbs moisture from the skin, in addition to removing harmful bacteria.

#5: Exercise Outside
Have you ever had a gym membership that you never used? Gym memberships can be costly to the consumer and, in addition, use up an inordinate amount of electricity operating treadmills day and night. Walking, running, or biking outside is free, uses no electricity, and it exposes the participant to a much needed dose of Vitamin D.

#6: Use Your Slow Cooker
Slow cookers can be a huge time-saver. Simply throw some ingredients into the slow cooker before work in the morning and you can come home to an absolutely delicious meal. Using a slow cooker offers many eco-friendly benefits as well. Cooking with an oven can generate a lot of heat. As slow cookers use less far less heat than conventional ovens, using one can help keep the kitchen cool, reducing the burden on your air conditioner. Slow cookers also use about the same amount of energy as the average lightbulb, so they can even save you money on your power bill!

#7: Limit the Amount of Tech Time
Watching television and using the computer, in addition to texting on cell phones, can consume an inordinate amount of time and electricity daily. By limiting the amount of time spent using these gadgets, you will not only save money, but you will also have more opportunities to interact with other humans. Another eco-friendly tip, many of these devices (like televisions) consume power even when they aren’t turned on. Investing in a power bar with a timer can shut off the power at the source at a predetermined time of night, then turn the flow back on in the morning.

All of these behaviors are simple ones that do not require a lot of money to adopt. By changing actions that can become toxic over time, or by adopting habits that allow reconnection with nature and other humans, you will be doing your part to save the Earth. And in the end, more than just the Earth will thank you. Your body will too!

Have a Happy Halloween with this Fun Organic Lunch

To kids, Halloween is far more than just trick or treating. It’s all about costumes, spooky TV specials, and the spirit of the holiday!

Treat them to this super simple, and super yummy, organic Halloween lunch, and make it extra special. Jump over to ECOlunchbox for the recipe!