Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teaching Our Kids to Live Sustainable Lifestyles

Parents and teachers have a unique opportunity to encourage and influence our students, and as Haim Ginott put it, it is all about how we choose to respond to that position. 

Our world is changing all around us. Good or bad, our children will be inheriting our successes and failures. We have a unique responsibility to make careful decisions with our youth in mind. How will our decisions immediately and/or eventually affect them?

Here are five of our suggestions for modeling sustainable practices: 

1. Recycle - Every city has different laws and guidelines concerning this so check with your local municipal waste to see if they offer a recycle pick up. If they do not, check to see if you have a recycling center close by where you can drop off such items as paper, glass and plastic. The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash everyday and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. **  75% of our waste can be recycled and often times isn't.**

Last year our service project was Cans for Pets. Students collected both new and empty cans of pet food. The new cans of food went to the shelter and the used cans were recycled.  This project allowed them to practice the collecting and sorting process necessary for recycling.

My Garbology has a really great and interactive method to help kids learn and better understand their impact on the world around them and how they can help through a fun game and critical thinking exercises.
Pittsburgh resource: Together Green 

2. Support local economy- Buying locally allows you and your children to build a relationship with your community.  Through this practice, community members directly benefit from our purchases. The money stays in the community, providing valuable jobs and a lasting economy.

3. Shop smart - Buy organic.  As more consumers demand organic products, they become more widely available and pricing becomes more reasonable.  The same is true for items made from sustainable materials such as bamboo and recycled materials.  If you're looking for which stores you'd like to support with your dollars, Better World Shopper is an excellent resource. 

4. Eat at home- Recently, we discussed the importance of eating at home on our blog.  It's a great way to teach your children about where the ingredients come from, food preparation and cooking techniques. Community gardens are a great source of local, organic ingredients for your meals at home.  Many Pittsburgh communities have community gardens that are always welcoming help from neighborhood members. For a more extensive list of Pittsburgh community gardens, check out Grow Pittsburgh or their site map.

5. Reuse: It is a simple concept but choosing to reuse when possible cuts down on a lot waste. Wash a dish instead of using a paper plate.  Put your food scraps, such as fruit and vegetable peels, to use as compost for your spring garden. Shopping at second hand and consignment shops for clothing and household items is not only affordable, it keeps those items out of the land fill and gives them a second life. 

To read more about our efforts to teach our students about sustainable living, check out our post:  Food for Big Thoughts: Eat and Live Healthy.  We also have some great recipes for food you can make at home, from snacks to smoothies to pizza!

We value the health and well being of our students, and we are always looking for innovative ways to teach students about sustainable lifestyles.  What are some of your ideas?


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