Like most families, we embrace a new year as an opportunity to talk about how we can make improvements in our lives and those around us. Very young kids might need help with the word “resolution” but setting “goals” is certainly easily understood. We parents here at Playper were kicking around some ideas about what we could do to teach kids more environmentally-friendly practices. Playper Co-Founder Susy Christiansen got inspired and ran with it, so I’ll happily turn this month’s blog over to her!
10 New Year’s Ideas for Planet-Friendly Families
Kids are inherently optimistic and eager to do the right thing. Many kids today are aware that the planet could use our help, and there’s no lack of enthusiasm for wanting to jump in. But when it comes down to making the small choices that take us to that goal, things can get a little harder. I know I’ve had to make a habit of going around and turning off all the lights that my kids left on as they rushed out the door to school.
As parents, we teach our kids that in reaching any big goal, it’s the little changes we make every day that collectively have a big impact. (To help drive this point home, your kids might enjoy the Shel Silverstein poem “Melinda Mae” about the little girl who sat down to eat a whale; though everyone said she couldn’t do it, she tackled it one bite at a time and finished 89 years later!)
By sitting down as a family and setting some small goals for the new year, you can also enjoy some family bonding through a meaningful talk with your kids. And we think these ideas make for some fun family time, too!
1. Appoint a Bag Keeper. Most of us have reusable bags but forget to bring them when shopping. Formally appoint your child an official Bag Keeper – it’s their job to remember to bring the bags when going grocery shopping. Emphasize that it’s an important job, and they’ll be proud to have such a big responsibility.
2. Trade cans for ice cream! Start a collection of recyclable cans and bottles. Once you have enough, make a family trip to your local recycling center (just search “recycling center near me”), and then use the money you’ve earned to buy ice cream or a favorite treat. Or better yet, encourage your kids to save it towards a bigger purchase and teach a second lesson about saving money!
3. Go on an adventure. If your family usually travels by car, plan a trip to the local museum, library or park using only public transportation. It’s lots of fun for kids to try something new, and it’s a perfect time to teach the kids how buses and trains work.
4. Unplug. Make a family pledge to turn off the lights whenever anyone leaves a room. And don’t forget about all those other gadgets – TVs, computers, chargers left plugged in and anything else with that glowing light on it. Want to make it fun? On leaving the house, have the kids do a speed run into every room, and look for anything that should be shut off.
5. Create a craft box. Before throwing away a container or anything with craft possibilities, save it in a box. Then for a fun activity, pull out the box once in a while and see what you make. Can you combine the coffee can and old buttons to make a robot? What creative use can you find for that empty egg carton or old magazines?
6. Turn off the tap. Type up a cute sign and tape it to the bathroom mirror to remind kids to turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth. Fun fact: turning the faucet off while you brush can save 2-3 gallons of water every single day!
7. Take the 30 Wears challenge. Before buying a piece of clothing, ask the wearer: will you wear this at least 30 times before you throw it out? If not, maybe it’s not something you need. (This kind of thinking is also great to teach kids about mindful spending.)
8. Learn about an endangered animal and talk about what little things you can do to help make sure that animal is around for future generations. Sometimes making a specific connection helps kids understand the bigger picture.
9. Choose sustainable. When you shop together, make it a point to have your child help find alternatives to plastic. Should you choose the water in glass bottles or in cartons? Are there other options to buying that plastic toy or that single-use container?
10. Think outside the box when gift-giving. When birthdays and holidays come around, try a handmade gift – every grandparent loves a special card made by their favorite grandchild. Or consider a recyclable product or an experience gift, like tickets to a movie or ballgame.
Have your own ideas? We’d love to hear them! Send us an email at email@example.com or send us a message through Instagram (@PlayperKids) and we’ll include your ideas on our social accounts. We at Playper wish you and your family a happy, successful, and planet-friendly new year!