Every day before sleeping, our kids say a little prayer – this ritual covers variety of requests like speedy recovery from a little cut on a finger, a get well for a sick friend, and sometimes even requests for brainwashing parents into letting them eat more ice-cream or getting them a pet. I am not kidding – these are actual things for which God is expected to intervene!
Since last week, they have been praying for the Amazon forest fire to stop and for the trees and animals to be safe. This breaks my heart every single time I listen to it. Coincidently, we’d recently got them a big picture book on the Amazon forest. Now, our children are often huddled over the book worried –what would happen to those animals?
As parents we often feel helpless about many situations that our kids may have to face in the future. We worry if they will be safe commuting, meeting strangers, staying safe from bullies, etc. Then, you have environmental factors that seem too big for us to change or manage. But can we really not do anything?
We have to make sure they have a safer future, and we need to show them we care about the earth’s natural resources, and how precious they are. It all begins with one small step. Here are few of the eco-friendly habits we can follow as a family:
1) Finish what is on your plate – It’s incredible how much food is wasted every day. Each grain of rice takes months to grow and we do not think twice before just pushing leftover food into the bin. All the effort, energy and resources that go into growing food is lost in a second. Please do tell your children about the importance of not wasting food. Eat locally produced food, cook as per family need and finish the food on the plate. Praise them every time they finish their food. Tell them how they are helping the planet by doing this simple thing. You will be amazed how well a simple praise can work.
2) Switch off the lights before you leave a room – This habit should be inculcated in children from an early age. Electrical equipment of any kind, of not in use should be off – simple. I often see my elder one scolding her younger sibling if she comes out of the room without switching off the light – “Do you want all the trees to be cut? No, right? Then switch off the light”. We will deal with sibling fights in a separate post. But right now, please talk to your children about the importance of switching of electrical equipment.
3) Take your own grocery bag – Did you see NatGeo’s photo of a little bird trapped inside a plastic bag? Plastic has come into our life in a manner where it is no longer easy to separate it from us. But let us start with one habit at a time. Buy a reusable grocery bag that fascinates the kids (and you!), or better still make one with the kids. I remember my mother had stitched a pink and black jhola for our house and it was used for our vegetable shopping for over 15 years! Have your own house jhola – decorate it with the kids. We have one with kid’s hand prints on it. Use it as much as possible.
4) Print on both sides – I don’t know why we prefer printing just on one side of the paper. Please change the default setting of your home and office printer. Start printing on both sides. I remember suggesting this at our office and six months after implementing this, we were astonished at the savings! Make this change in your office and encourage kids to suggest this to their school.
5) Save water – We have watched numerous campaigns around this issue, we all know what needs to be done — close the faucet while brushing, put RO’s discarded water in plants, etc. But we still forget! Start telling children about why we need to save water. Build it in your family routine.
6) Reusable straw – Plastic straws are one of the worst things for our oceans. Our use of a straw lasts for less than 10 mins and it takes about 200 years for it to decompose! Buy a few reusable straws. Keep them in your bag. You will forget first few times but soon it would be habit.
7) Grow a garden – It is super fun for children to see something grow. A small tomato plant, a chilli plant, coriander, mint, beans, eggplant – these are some plants that grow very easily in pots. Encourage your children to plant these and take care of them. Gardening is not just an eco-friendly thing to do, it is a wonderful stress buster too!
None of these steps are out of the ordinary. We have read about them several times before. But many a times we fail to teach our kids the simple things. Let us start doing it actively – for us, for our children and for this planet.
Today, even I will pray for the forest fires to stop and for the animals to be safe. Hopefully, we don’t need another devastating fire to make us realize our responsibility to our planet. The kids are watching, we need to show them the right way.
See you again soon.