Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green, But It's Worth It!

By Lon S. Cohen

This post originally ran in my "Ask Dad" column in Long Island Pulse Magazine's April 2008 issue. It has been edited slightly for a wider audience.

While environmental issues have been talked about ad nauseam since Senator Gaylord Nelson put them squarely onto the nation’s conscious with the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, popular commentary such as Al Gore’s, A Inconvenient Truth, show that we still have a long way to go.

So what’s a parent to do in a world succumbing to the effects of a disastrous global policy toward the earth? Is anything going to work in the face of such a monstrous tidal wave of environmental doom and gloom? Perhaps there are a few strategies we can employ with our kids.

Tu B'Shevat is called the “New Year for trees” in Judaism. It’s frequently used as an opportunity to teach children about the environment by planting a new tree or learning about fruits. Think: Jewish Arbor Day. Religion instills a sense of stewardship over the earth as protectors of God’s creation. If you are raising your child with any religious affinity, try to put environmental lessons in there for good measure.

Expose children to nature, firsthand. Take them out to see what this world has to offer in the way of natural preserves and wilderness; believe it or not, there’s still a lot left around here. Better yet, plan a camping trip with the kids and tech them to live with nature at the basic level. There are plenty of campsites with direct access to woodland trails, waterways, and animals in their natural habitat.

Instruct and inform children on how to be a better environmental citizen. Start by not littering. Even a flick of used chewing gum amounts to wastefulness. Teach that on a personal level it’s a small effort to live by the three R’s of environmentalism and it can go a long way over time.

Lead by example. There are plenty of ways to do this, but here’s one tip: Use eBay. My friend buys lots of good quality toys for her kids from eBay. Not only does it reuse items that might end up in the trash, it reduces the amount of waste because the toy has already gone through the wasteful packaging cycle. And who doesn’t hate opening those little plastic twisty-tie things anyway? Even better, why not consider opening an eBay store yourself to recycle the toys your kids are finished with, instead of throwing them in the trash.

It ain’t easy being Green, but it’s worth it.


balmeras said...

Really thoughtful and well done post, Lon. As I always say -- backyard before rain forest. Kids need to learn to love and appreciate nature before we ask them to save it. Play outdoors before environmental ed.

Modeling is incredibly important, and not just sustainable practices, but model joy and enthusiasm for the natural world.

Recycling toys is a great tip! Other good ways are through garage sales and thrift stores. Scaling back on toys is also good. Did you know that the stick made it into the Toy Hall of Fame this year? Things like rocks, sticks, leaf piles and the like are great outdoor toys -- no plastic or packaging, but LOTS of imagination.

Happy Earth Day- Bethe @balmeras

ObilonKenobi said...

Thanks, Bethe. I am so an advocate for taking the kids out into nature because once they fall in love with the earth they'll grow up wanting to preserve it.

And no I didn't know about the stick making it into the Toy Hall of Fame. That's awesome! Did you blog about that?