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Teach your Children Well…

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
April 9, 2009
File under: Family Time, Food, holidays


Earth Day reminds me of Valentine’s Day, which is as good a reason as any to promote the consumption of chocolate. It’s just that you want the people you love to know you cherish them—through words and heartfelt actions—every day. Otherwise, the holiday starts to feel hollow, fast. Well, Mother Earth deserves nothing less.

True stewardship requires good habits. Lucky for me, good habits can be learned—and bad ones broken.

In my own adventures in parenting, imitation trumps all. That has its drawbacks: I no longer swear, which I used to enjoy. And my boys notice my every foible. But it also forces me to be a better person, someone worthy of imitation.

Come Earth Day, we can show our kids what it means to cherish healthy soil, fresh water, clear breezes—Nature at its best. Be their steadfast, quiet guide. And your children will follow in your newly lightened footprint.

Just start simply, one step at a time. Instead of lecturing little ones, take on the challenge yourself and pick one habit (of many) to change:

  • Recycle: Everything from paper and plastic to electronics and still-usable gear (try freecycle.com).
  • Stop the madness: Use a mail-stopping service like Tonic to ban junk mail from your home. Then, stroll with your kids to the mailbox every day, and let them carry the few things you still get (and want) home.
  • Reuse: Carry your own coffee cup, water bottle, grocery bags. They soon will, too.
  • Park your car: And walk, ride your bike, or take the bus. Start by doing it once a week, if you can.
  • Live locally: Buy milk, eggs, meat, vegetables—anything you can—from local farms at your nearest farmers market. Bonus points: Eat one meat-free meal a week, something simple and delicious your kids can help you prepare.

When you slip (and you will) and forget to turn out a light when you leave the room, pick yourself up. Remember that while you’re modeling good habits, you’re helping preserve the natural world our wide-eyed children will inherit from us.

Then, sit down and enjoy a meal you’ve made with love. Together.

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