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Slowly Going Green: Raising green kids

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for seven years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to a preschooler and kindergartener who are, without a doubt, the cutest kids ever. Mother...

Instilling a green lifestyle

Are you hoping to "go green" but have no idea where to start? Or perhaps the idea of "greening up" your life is a little overwhelming, like it was for me. We have solutions! Stick with me each week as I make suggestions for slowly going green, one baby-step at a time. This week, we'll discuss raising green kids.

Little girl recycling in kitchen

Raising green kids isn't a fad. It should be something parents do as part of daily life -- like brushing teeth or taking baths before bed. I didn't necessarily intend to "raise green kids," but my daughter innocently reminded me that I'm doing exactly that during a walk the other day. Keep reading for tips and on how to raise green kids, beginning in toddlerhood, and to find out what my little one did. (Annoying "proud mommy moment" alert!)

1Talk about it

Kids learn from their surroundings. They learn the ABCs because they hear you -- and their favorite cartoon character -- sing them. Don't assume that your children just know they shouldn't let the water run for 10 minutes while they splash away instead of rubbing their hands. In fact, it's safe to assume that they will let the water run.

Learn how to stop wasting water >>

Make your green lifestyle part of your everyday talk. I've always told my kids, "Remember to turn the water off while we scrub our hands because we're very lucky to have clean water. We can't waste it!" Simple, right? But as it became a habit and as they got older, they wanted to know why. Now, at two-and-a-half and four years old, my kids understand that water doesn't just magically appear in the faucet, that we shouldn't waste it and that clean water is a privilege.

Read up on water conservation and get the facts >>

2Do as I do

As parents, we're pretty good at the "Do as I say, not as I do" routine. However, you can't expect your kids to make green choices if you're doing the opposite. My little ones see me put everything I possibly can into the recycle bin, turn the water off while I brush my teeth and use old rags instead of paper towels. In fact, my son asked why they use paper napkins at school because we don't do that at home.

3Make it fun

One thing is always certain about kids: They love fun. And with little ones, it's not hard to make mundane daily activities entertaining and educational. When I'm putting away groceries, we play silly games, like "which containers can go in the recycle when we're done?" Lame for an adult, I know, but for kids, it's all about participation.

Learn a few fun ways to teach your kids about recycling >>

My proud mommy moment occurred the other day when my 2-year-old picked up a nasty fast-food cup, complete with a chewed-up straw, in our grocery store parking lot. After I finished hyperventilating and gagging and mulling over the feasibility of bathing her in rubbing alcohol -- I've mentioned I have germ issues, right? -- I got it together enough to hear her say, "This is gross! Someone made a bad, bad choice. We do not put trash on the ground. It could kill the fishies!" (We live right by the ocean.) She marched over to the trash and tossed it in. My son gave her a high five, thus causing me to twitch even more over the germ transfer, but reminding me that they both get it.

It turns out that I'm raising a couple little environmentalists. And that makes me happy.

More Slowly Going Green >>

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