For a household to save energy, resources and money, it takes effort from everyone who lives there. Yes, even the kids need to get involved. That means no more turning off the lights behind them or putting up with their overly long showers. Though energy-efficiency may not be in their nature – yet – we have five tips for getting them to live greener.
Set an example. It's cute when your "mini me" curls up to read a book in the exact same way you do, but not so fun when you see him or her replicating your bad habit of standing in front of the fridge with the door open – for several minutes. If you want your kids to form good habits, you need to demonstrate them yourself. Then you won't have to remind them to turn off the computer, pack their lunch in reusable containers or think about what they want for a snack before opening the refrigerator – these actions will be second nature.
Give them a job to do. Allow your child to take charge of an energy-related task around the house. For example, your youngest can make sure all the lights and electronics are turned off before heading out the door every morning. He'll enjoy getting to police his older family members and he'll really feel like he's contributing to the household's energy-saving goals.
Have fun. You've probably tried making a game out of cleaning up your kids' rooms. The same strategy can work when trying to save energy and resources as well. When you enjoy what you're doing, it makes the job easier. Want everyone to take shorter showers? Set a timer for each family member and race to see who can take the shortest one. You can even make a chart to keep track of who wins bragging rights each week. Try setting aside one night a week to play board games rather than watch TV or play video games. Collect reusable materials such as containers and cardboard to make decorations for upcoming holidays.
One goal at a time. If you're trying to get your child to change multiple wasteful habits, she might get overwhelmed. Try working on one goal at a time. That way the turning-out-the-lights goal can become a habit before she moves on to tackling the forgetting-to-recycle-paper goal. Don't be afraid to establish rewards along with the goals for extra incentive! For example, if your child meets her goals for four weeks in a row, she gets to choose the next family outing.
Pick your battles. Sometimes your child doesn't have the skills, interest or maturity to change his ways and accomplish a certain goal, no matter how much you emphasize the importance of saving energy. Instead of getting frustrated, work on a different goal for the time being. It's true that kids grow up fast – it may only take six weeks or six months for your child to truly embrace short showers over tub-brimming baths.