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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Raising Green Kids

Raising Green Kids

While kids may be busy learning about earth-friendly practices from teachers, scouting officials, camp counselors, community leaders, TV, and the Internet, parents can assume a fun, active role in teaching their children sustainable measures at home.

If it’s true kids learn best by example, practicing what they preach is extra important for adults, with the home (inside and out) becoming a kind of domestic laboratory to help ensure that the planet young people inherit is the one they and their families had a hand in healing and creating, not destroying.

Learning about the earth and its many miracles and possibilities really should be fun, with preservation and green practices promoted as activities children can initiate and undertake on their own, for the most part. From simple ventures such as reusing plastic and paper bags, and even zipper-type storage bags from the freezer and fridge, or the ones that held sandwiches at lunch (these can be washed in the sink and air-dried), to efforts that may require a little more time and planning, like composting and planting a garden, most children will embrace the opportunity to make a difference in their world.

Learning just how to do that alongside a patient, approving mom or dad can make even the most routine task one they can’t wait to tackle. And connecting planet-preserving actions to everyday responsibilities, like cooking or cleaning up, can establish and reinforce our connection to the earth.

Because children like to learn how to cook, for example, making dinner with mom or dad may involve the use of multiple appliances such as an electric can opener, food processor, blender or microwave. Known as “ghost” or “vampire” loads when left plugged in while not in use, these small appliances consistently drain energy. Teaching kids to unplug after use, including electric toothbrushes, cell phone chargers, lamps, and computers, can help them make a contribution toward preserving the environment.

When straightening up bedrooms and play spaces, or cleaning out drawers and closets, instead of tossing old clothing and unused toys which may find their way to the landfill, ask your child to come up with creative new uses for these items. With recycling and repurposing high on the eco-education agenda, a little ingenuity can mean old shirts or jeans sewn together become a trendy beach or shopping bag, and plastic toy components or containers become bright and decorative storage boxes or even planters.

In the bathroom, a simple act like turning off the tap while tooth brushing can save up to four gallons of water in the morning and again at night, which adds up to about 240 gallons per month. A quick (but efficient and super clean!) shower in tepid, rather than hot, water can also save energy, and has been reported to save three to seven times more water than filling the tub.

When it’s time to visit friends or run errands, and especially in warmer weather, rather than asking for rides, encourage your kids to walk, skate, or ride bicycles with appropriate helmets. A family grocery shopping expedition, if the store is within walking distance, can be achieved using collapsible, rolling pull carts for food transport (in cloth grocery bags, of course).

And finally, learning how to effectively compost, and planting a vegetable garden together using the compost for fertilizer, if possible, can teach children powerful lessons about investing in the earth. With a little effort, greening your kids can result in more fun “together time,” and a future they will be proud to claim.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.