Educating Children On Sustainability

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Educating Children On Sustainability – Most children are unaware of the role they play in society. For kids, life revolves around a small radius that includes their home, family, friends, and school.

They may not always understand how their actions and choices can affect the world around them.

From a young age, children should be taught and guided by their parents, older siblings, and teachers about the many opportunities they have to help out in their own small ways.

With the right information, children will find it educational and even fun to go green.

Educating Children On Sustainability

Why Teach Children About Sustainability

The concept of going green can create many opportunities for teachers to bond with kids in the pursuit of a common goal. It can help build trust and good communication, and enhance a child’s creativity and self-confidence. Here are some key points on why it is important to teach children to go green:

They Will Learn About Responsibility and Accountability

Although the concept of social responsibility may seem too complex for very young children to understand, teaching them about how their actions impact the environment and the society they live in will help create awareness of their actions and the consequences of their choices. Kids learn how to think on a much larger scale and realize that they, too, can contribute by choosing a certain action over another.

They Will Learn About Sustainable Consumption

Even from the time they are infants, children already become consumers. As they grow older, their needs and wants change, which gives them plenty of opportunities to go green once they choose products and services that offer sustainable solutions.

Kids will learn how products and services are produced and which ones provide a more environmentally friendly option. Something simple is for them to use a reusable water bottle at school.

From a young age, children will be able to learn how to choose sustainable products and the importance of this choice. This is critical since when they get older, they too will have the same power as consumers like their parents.

They Will Learn How to Appreciate What They Have

When children learn how to reuse, reduce and recycle, they develop a better appreciation for the things they have. Often, children will find surprising ways to reuse items such as school supplies, clothing and toys, so teachers should encourage them to be creative and to find unique approaches and ideas to boost their interest.

They Will Inherit What We Will Leave Behind

Good habits create better citizens and since young children today will take over once the adults pass on, they should be aware of the little green changes they can make to create a sustainable environment for themselves and their future children.

Starting Kids on Going Green

If you have a desire to teach children the basics of sustainability, you may wish to pursue higher education. Once your degree in received you will be able to explain sustainability to children in an easy to understand way.

The most basic things that children should learn to do in order to go green are embodied in the reduce-reuse-recycle practice. Here are some ideas to get started in a Greener Lifestyle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Encourage children to bring food and drinks in reusable containers instead of plastic or carton boxes.

Designate a Donate-A-Toy day and encourage kids to donate old, unused toys to orphanages and underprivileged children. Teach children to ask their parents for recycled paper for them to draw on. They can also bring in old and unused items from home to turn into art projects. Create a project such as an organic garden where kids can grow vegetables organically using scrap materials.

Recycling is the last step in the process after reducing and reusing. Teach children the importance of recycling by setting up bins in the classroom that they can use to segregate trash and other materials. By making them active participants in an environmentally green practice, children are more likely to remember the lesson and realize its relevance.

How Do We Teach Our Children Not to Be Consumers?

With sustainability and trying to create a sustainable society I feel like America’s biggest issue is our consumerism; the constant need to buy things, buy new things, update our items, etc. Sometimes I feel these pulls, but I remind myself that doubt I actually need that item.

Often waiting a designated amount of time (like a week) will show me that I actually don’t need said object or I will look for a used option, so I am at least not adding to the use of new materials.  While it may be too late to change this habit for older generations, the younger ones still have a chance.

I am concerned with how to teach my son to not become a consumer.  This is very challenging from the get go, since I feel the best way is to practice what you preach.  When you are pregnant people keep telling you everything thing you need – it kind of scared me and showed me why people think children are so expensive.

I tried to keep it to a minimum, we decided against the changing table, we use cloth diapers, and tried to borrow as much as possible (co-sleeper, toys and other baby equipment that is only used for a few months).  Also when possible we bought baby items used (Craigslist is my friend), again in hopes of being more sustainable (reuse is part of the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle).

Then there are the clothes. You are gifted so many clothes.  Why?  Because they are cute?  I soon realized that you only need about 10 days worth of clothing and all else is a bit unnecessary.  I am starting to realize the same for myself, so hopefully I can minimize my stuff in the near future.

But back to the question- how do I teach my kid not to be a consumer?  It is constantly being pushed in his face.  Christmas, Easter, Halloween, birthdays, and any other Americanized holiday.  They are all about consuming, all about getting something.  Personally I plan to forgo the Easter baskets because I will never understand a bunny handing out eggs.

As for Christmas and birthdays, hopefully we can discourage presents from people, or ask for books instead.  Also before each of these holidays clear out old toys and donate to children in need, because why does a child need a room full of toys when he finds the kitchen spatula the best toy?

On top of all the holidays forcing stuff on my kid and forcing him to demand stuff, there is the branding on every type of product he may need- sippy cups, pajamas, pacifiers, etc.  Why do I have to decide what type of character (that I have never even heard of) needs to be on his toothbrush?  I can only be thankful that we do not have television, so we avoid all the children shows and ads directed toward children in that manner.

We are on this adventure of avoiding consumerism, I will keep you updated on our journey.  If you have any tips, please comment and let me know.

Now vs Then: Look At The US’s Environmental Impact 50 Year Ago

Look at the air quality trends collated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and they clearly show that the air is far cleaner than it was fifty years ago.

The significant change in air quality stems from a number of sustainable green reforms that were introduced over a period of time. The EPA was asked to introduce a set of guidelines that would make American citizens realize the benefits of a safer and cleaner environment. The agency set to work and numerous green initiatives were brought into being to protect the environment.

Educating Children On Sustainability
Courtesy Tiny Banquet Committee under CC License

EPA History and Earth Day

Some fifty years ago toxic waste could be off-loaded into fresh waters, and industries were not stopped from pumping poisonous gases into the air. No one could prevent this from happening because there were no clean water and air acts in force.

The EPA had not been formed; hence there was no regulatory body to protect the environment. However, congress was not prepared to let the nation continue to pollute the atmosphere at such an alarming rate.

Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency, an organization that encouraged all American citizens to follow green initiatives. The agency was keen to reassure all that the green acts would make our world a better place to live in.

So, what was America encouraged to do to lower the amount of pollution in the air?

. The Clean Heat program was introduced. This green initiative aimed to lower air pollution by encouraging everyone to change oil heating boilers for modern heating systems that utilized cleaner fuel sources.

. Reduce the amount of Sulphur contained in heating oil.

. Expand the nation’s natural gas supplies.

. Electrical and hybrid vehicles were introduced to the municipal fleet, a green reform that encouraged environmentally friendly ways of transporting members of the public.

. Lower the soot pollution caused by diesel vehicles, smokestacks and wood-burning stoves.

Has the Green Reform Made a Significant Difference to America’s Air Quality?

Yes. Toxic heating oils are gradually being phased out and many people are busy updating their current heating systems to comply with green policies. However, some ten thousand buildings that still burn toxic heating oil have until 2030 to clean-up their act.

Fifty years ago the streets were filled with diesel fueled vehicles that caused considerable air pollution. Today, the new zoning changes and reduced bus emissions have improved the air quality considerably. Keep The Earth Supreme And Go Green

Will the Clean Air Act save Lives?

Half a century ago the American citizens were inhaling all kinds of noxious substances that greatly affected their well-being. Today’s Americans are breathing in fresher, cleaner air that contains far less sulphur and soot. Toxic air is a major cause of lung problems and cardiovascular disease. The cleaner air has meant that fewer citizens are suffering from illnesses linked with air pollution.

How much have the Green Reforms changed the Air Quality?

Examine the percentage change in air quality and note that the concentrations of the most common pollutants have significantly improved during the last fifty years. The air contains less lead, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.

Have the Green Acts Impacted on the Percentage Change in Emissions?

Look at the percentage change in emissions and note that the numbers show a significant reduction in emissions. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide , lead and volatile organic compound levels are all lower than they were half a century ago.

One can only conclude, through higher levels of historical study, such as a history degree online that the green reforms have made a significant impact on the environment. As a result of these reforms the citizens of America are now leading healthier lives.

Best green baby products

Finding the best green and organic products for your baby can be difficult. Not only do they have many needs, but this is a relatively small market and the products can be hard to find. At the same time, diligent mothers are finding great products for their children. Here are some of the best green baby products of 2013 that you are sure to love.

WeeGo Bottles

If you try to buy baby bottles from any supermarket or regular store, you will only find plastic bottles. Smart moms know that plastic is full of chemicals, potential irritants and overexposure to plastic has been shown to have bad effects. The WeeGo bottles are made from glass, but they have an extra benefit that you won’t find with other glass bottles.

A silicone sleeve covers them. The sleeve provides some protection because it will keep the glass from shattering if the bottle is dropped or thrown by the baby.

Sophie the Giraffe

Sophie the Giraffe was originally made in 1961, but it still remains a popular toy that green moms love. Sophie is made entirely from natural rubber, not the synthetic stuff that other baby toys are made from. She’s also great for chewing because the rubber is pliable enough to help your child’s teething, but the rubber won’t leech into his or her body.

Sophie also makes a little squeak sound, which will help develop your child’s senses and sense of control. This is easily one of the best green toys that you can buy for your baby.

Sprout Baby Food

There are three common problems with baby food: the containers have BPA, the fruits and vegetables aren’t organic and the food is simple. Sprout baby food fixes that by giving you BPA-free pouches of organic baby food. The food is also surprisingly complex, which will help your baby develop a good palate.

For example, there is a pasta and lentil Bolognese meal for older infants. Most of the meals also have roasted herbs, which deliver vital antioxidants while making your child appreciate better foods. “This is a product that will help your child love fruits and vegetables as he or she grows up.” says Jennifer Anderson a maker of monitored home security

SwaddleMe Organic Swaddle

Do you know why newborns like to be tightly swaddled? It imitates the feeling of the womb, which helps them calm down and sleep better. While you can always swaddle the baby yourself with a cover or sheet, many parents have a hard time swaddling the baby properly.

The SwaddleMe organic swaddle can help. Not only can it give the right amount of pressure to your child so that he or she is comfortable, but it doesn’t have any dyes or chemicals.

California Baby Shampoo and Body Wash

Have you read the labels for shampoos and body washes? Many companies hide their ingredients because they are full of dangerous chemicals and pesticides that you would never want your baby in contact with. The good news is that there are many organic shampoos and baby-care products available.

One of the best line of products comes from California Baby. All of the cleaning products are made with organic oils that are sure to keep your baby clean without exposing him or her to dangerous substances.

Naturepedic Organic Crib Mattress

Babies are asleep for most of the day. It may not seem that way with all of the crying and fussing, but it’s true. This means that you should give your child a great mattress to sleep on to help him or her be as healthy as possible.

The Naturepedic mattress is easily one of the best. Not only does it feature organic cotton without any chemicals or dyes, but the mattress was made by baby sleep experts. This ensures that your child will be comfortable and healthy, but don’t expect him or her to stop crying anytime soon.

Green and organic baby products are hard to come by, but they are out there and this market is growing considerably. If you want your child to be as healthy as possible, then consider switching over to these safe items that will keep your child from being around dangerous chemicals and dyes.

From Milk Jugs to Green Toys

Best green baby products

For my son’s first birthday he received a set of blocks. These weren’t wooden blocks, or foam ones, but green blocks. They weren’t green in color mind you, but My First Green Toys, from Green Toys. The toys are made from recycled milk jugs that are free of toxic chemicals, including BPA, phthalate, and PVC.

To date, the company has turned more than 6 million plastic milk jugs into various plastic toys. Manufactured in the United States (California to be exact), Green Toys furthers the aims of environmental and economic sustainability. By keeping jobs local, Green Toys is an economic boon to the state.

The packaging of Green Toys is minimal, using as little material as possible. “All Green Toys products are packaged in recycled corrugated boxes with no plastics, cellophane or twist-ties, and are 100% recyclable. So, not only are they earth-friendly and ready for your recycling bin, they are really easy to open.”

By keeping packing materials light and raw materials domestic (not shipped from overseas), Green Toys reduces the energy needed to transport the finished products. According to the US Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agencies, one pound of recycled plastic saves enough energy to power a laptop for a month, a TV for three weeks, or the equivalent of 3,000 AAA batteries.

Green Toys line includes kitchen and cooking accessories, building toys (including the blocks mentioned in this post), outdoor toys. In addition, Green Toys is launching their Green Eats collection of tableware for children.

Zoe B Organic’s Biodegradable Beach Toys

The other day I received a small box with several items from Zoë b Organic, a company that sells earth friendly products for children. I was expecting to review the biodegradable beach toys (bucket, shovel, and cups), but also found a teething ring and pacifier packed among the toys.

When I first took out the beach toys I was surprised at how sturdy they were. Perhaps it was the fact that they are biodegradable combined with the images of cheap, flimsy pails from my youth (as well as seeing them line the shelves at the local supermarket), but the set from Zoë b Organic felt like it was built to last, ironic given that they are indeed designed to be fully biodegradable.

As pointed out though on the FAQ section of Zoë b Toys’ website, the toys are quite durable, which is evident from my first impression. The built-in handles, as opposed to a flimsy, “external” plastic handle, will not snap off and make for a more durable product.

Unlike plastic beach toys which can take several hundred years to degrade, especially problematic for those toys left on the beach or washed away much like my last pair of expensive sunglasses, Zoë b Organic’s beach bucket and accessories will naturally breakdown within 2 to 3 years.

According to the FAQ page, the toys “are made with a biobased material that comes from American-grown corn. Specifically, this bioplastic from Mirel™ is made with PHA, a polymer produced by microbial fermentation of sugar.” Even though the bucket is biodegradable, it can withstand high heat, exposure to the sun, and is dishwasher safe. Instead, the toys will breakdown “in microbial environments, including natural soil and water, home composting systems, and industrial composting facilities.”

Zoë b Toys were created in the cradle to cradle mold, considering the full life cycle of a product. The goal was to make a completely sustainable product, one that is “born from nature and ultimately returning to nature.” The polymer created (PHA) is “different from the more familiar PLA, used for things like biodegradable drinking cups.

PLA only biodegrades in high-temperature, industrial composting facilities—which aren’t available everywhere.” In addition to taking the beginning and end of the product’s life cycle into consideration, they are made in the United States, which keeps jobs in the country, while reducing economic and environmental costs associated with shipping.

The beach toys retail for $19.99 and include a scoop, two cups, and a lid with shapes built in for sifting sand. The toys can be purchased at a number of stores and online retailers. For a full list, click here. Despite their higher cost, the durability of the bucket represents a nice value. After all, sustainability will not succeed if products are not durable as well. For more information on the beach toys visit Zoë b Toys’ website.

As a follow up, this picture of a broken, flimsy shovel was taken at the playground where my son and I play with the beach bucket from Zoë b Toys.

Ethical sunscreen: getting it covered?
Source: Crane and Matten blog

Ethical sunscreen: getting it covered?

The end of July. School is out, the beach is beckoning, and North America is just emerging from a massive heatwave. OK, so its grey and chilly in much of Northern Europe right now, but for many of us, summer is truly here.

And like all self-respecting sunworshippers, we’re all too aware that this means it is time for sunscreen. The question is, though, what is the responsible choice among the myriad brands in the market? And what counts for responsible when it comes to sunscreen anyway?

Over at the Ethical Consumer website, help is at hand. The UK-based magazine publishers and all-round ethical shopping wonks produce ethical buying guides for just about everything. Their buyers guide for sunscreen is available free and includes probably more information than anyone could possible want about how the various brands stack up against a wide array of social and environmental issues.

Top of the list of things to avoid are potentially harmful chemical ingredients, including various parabens and cinnamates. Not to mention one of the more controversial ingredients around, nanoparticles. These are widely used in sunscreens, but have raised concerns around safety and environmental issues. Of course, the most responsible sunscreen is one that actually works.

Natural, non-chemical ingredients are all well and good, but not if they don’t guarantee you the protection you need … or has been the case in the past, do not actually provide the SPF protection they claim on the package. With the EU tightening up regulation a few years ago, some of the “natural” producers have struggled to comply and stay in the market.

That said, unsurprisingly for an organization that has always held multinationals in low regard, the top-ranked brands according to Ethical Consumer are still largely small-scale natural product specialists, such as Yaoh organic hemp sunblock, and Green People sun lotion. Among the more well-known international brands, Clarins, Malibu, and Nivea are among the best scorers, though it has to be said that they all come in at less that 10 out of 20 on Ethical Consumer’s scoring system.

But this is mainly because the sunscreens are not just being ranked on their ingredients and other product-specific qualities. Ethical Consumer has always taken a more holistic view of a product’s ethics, taking into account the producing company’s policies and practices on a wide range of issues including employee rights, sustainability reporting, political involvement, and much more besides.

In fact “product sustainability” is only one of five categories that a product is ranked on, the others being “environment”, “animals”, “people” and “politics”. In essence, they evaluate the brand, not just the product.

Such a wide ranging assessment may not be for everyone. Some people just want to rate the product, not the whole corporate culture. In the past, you’d just have to stick with the final assessment given by the company doing the rating, but organizations like Ethical Consumer are now providing more sophisticated tools.

We love the way they provide a customizable scorecard online so that you can quickly and easily prioritize the ethical issues that matter to you and de-prioritize those that don’t just by using the sliding scales. And when you do, the differences between the sunscreen brands turn out to be more driven by company factors rather than simply product-specific factors.

That’s not to say these company factors aren’t important. But clearly, not everyone is going to care as much about all the same issues. So customization is a technique that really works in ethical product ratings.

Where the sunscreen ratings don’t quite convince though is on the real basics. People buy sunscreen to get protected from harmful UV rays. An ethical sunscreen has to be one that provides superior protection. But none of the more than 20 categories ranked by Ethical Consumer appear to include an assessment of actual performance.

Maybe they just assume that if the products meet the legal standard then they are all of acceptable standard. But as far as we’re concerned, ethical performance is not just about the ethical add-ons. It’s also about doing the job the product is designed to do – and doing it well.  Marketers refer to this as the “core” and the “augmented” product.

If ethical evaluations pay no heed to the core product benefits, then they miss out on half the picture. Its like lying in the sun and using sunscreen on everything except your most sensitive areas. Sure, you’re taking precautions – but you’re still gonna get burnt exactly where its going to hurt the most. Ethical rankings need to get the essentials covered.

Concern for the Kids

Kids may seem fragile to some people, but coincidentally enough in all their delicateness, they are surprisingly resilient. As parents we try our best to influence our children positively by being domestic role models but let’s face it – we’re competing against some heavy hitters. With strongholds like the internet, cable tv, pop stars, movie stars and even more powerful than all combined, their peers, we are often grasping at straws and coming up short.

Once children start going to school, our time with them is at a bare minimum and the influences they are subjected to are unrelenting and at time, not always that powerful. Some of us try to bridge this gap by over compensating and locking our children away from technology while drowning them in so many activities, they sometimes become resentful of them.

Others throw in the towel early and just let the kids fend for themselves, coming up with answers to questions and solutions to problems with which they could really use our assistance. Even with limited time and money, we have to make an effort to find a happy medium. Here are a couple of the problems kids are facing today and how we can help.

Trouble with school work:

This may appear to be an everyday casual problem that will sort itself out, but the fact is, you may not even know your child is having a tough time dealing with school work before it is too late. School budgets are getting cut left and right which leave them without the means to provide the quality of supplementary tools kids need to excel at their academics.

With organizations like TutorToday.com, you will be able to find an affordable, flexible, knowledgeable tutor for your child to help give him or her a cutting edge on their work. For things as general as help with home work organization skills to more specific problems like calculus and literature,  getting a tutor will give your child the clarity and experience they need to enjoy their school work and not consider it such a chore.

Alcoholism:

Kids mimic a lot of what they see and if they see parents and adults using alcohol as a coping mechanism, bet your bottom dollar, they will catch on that. As a rule, once you have kids who are under the age of 18, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having them do. Sound extreme but we’re certain you will use your discretion.

Alcoholism in kids is becoming more and more prevalent as we’ve seen the numbers in prepubescents, adolescents and teens sky rocket. They are drinking a lot and their bodies are succumbing to the alcohol. By the age of 16 some kids have been in and out of rehab centers twice.

We have to be more responsible with how we consume alcohol and if we have problems within ourselves, begin treating them in a healthy way. Kids are drinking in school, at home and when they go out – if you must, slam the ban hammer down and let them know there will be dire consequences. Don’t consider it a threat; let them know that’s just how the world operates when you break rules.