Every year, as Earth Day approaches, there is a lot of talk about being green or making changes in our lives to live more sustainably. You might hear about a local tree planting or that your supermarket is giving away reusable bags to celebrate this event. You might wonder: what can you do to bring a natural attitude or rhythm into your home, and why should you bother?
The argument in the media about global warming is well-known and both sides get heated about how to interpret the science. For me, the bottom line is that our society is living in a disposable world where we throw away everything. We don’t seem to be phased by plastic spoons, paper plates, plastic bags, and way too much packaging.
We recently visited our local county landfill as a family. This is an eye-opening trip for adults and children alike. It is so important to start the conversation with our children about where our trash goes and what impact our daily choices have on the Earth. My children were in awe at the pile of garbage and immediately wanted to do everything we could to help reduce waste.
It can be overwhelming when you live in a society that has accepted a disposable lifestyle. However, the idea of throwing everything away is not that old. Disposable diapers have only been considered the standard for about thirty years; plastic bags and plastic forks were introduced in the 1950’s. Paper plates may have been invented 100 years ago, but most elderly people are still shocked at how easily we all throw things away.
The attitude change has happened in my own lifetime. This relatively new trend is not something we have to accept. In fact, I think it is extremely important to help our children see the big picture so they can right the wrongs of our generation. After all, we are handing this problem down to our children and grandchildren to solve. The only way to make a real difference is to start the conversation in your own home.
So how can you bring a love and respect for the Earth into your home? There are many ways your family can make a difference and establish good habits for everyone in the family to follow. I think looking at your home’s garbage is a great way to start.
What items do you bring into your home?
You can buy used and repurposed goods, items made of natural or recycled materials, and quality items that can be reused for many years. All of these help lessen the amount of garabge that your family sends to the landfill.
What do you do with trash in your home?
Items that cannot be reused should be sorted as compost, recycling, scrap paper, potential art projects, and only at a last resort should they go in the trash. If you can teach your own children to question the way we look at garbage, there is hope that they can stop this destructive path of a throw-away society.
You can use all the reusable bags in the world but it won’t do any good unless you are creating a sustainable mindset in the eyes of your children. Real change starts at home. I hope you will consider ways your family can create a positive change within your own home that go beyond Earth Day and become part of your daily lives.
Andy Hawbaker, his wife Suzy, and their two daughters live in Northern Colorado. They love hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. Andy is co-owner of the online store, Hip Mountain Mama, is a volunteer for his local open lands program, and is working to grow his daughters’ Nature and Science School. He blogs about getting kids excited about nature at Kids Loving Nature.