Teaching Kids to Be Green – the 4 R’s


It’s that time of year again, the Great American Teach-In is this week and I’ll be talking to my sons class about How to Be Green.  I’ve talked to his class every year since Kindergarten and each year seems to take a slightly different turn.  I have 30 minutes to spend with them on Thursday and I have to decide what this years message should be.

I always talk about the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the 4th R (or first R).  REFUSE! We can all practice this one in our daily lives and I think if we teach children at a young age that it’s ok to refuse wasteful items we can train them to be even more eco-friendly and green than we are.

5 Examples of ways to refuse:

  • Refuse a straw at a restaurant and drink from the edge of the cup instead. Or use a glass straw like glass dharma – they are kid friend
  • ly and guaranteed for life.  We have one but I always forget to take it with us.
  • Refuse bags. Do we really need a bag for everything?  Even if I forget my reusable bags when shopping sometimes the item is  easy to carry without a bag.
  • Refuse your receipt at the gas station. Unless you need a receipt for tax purposes do you need to have a receipt for all of your gas purchases?  I’ve even noticed more restaurants asking if you need a receipt for your purchase.  As long as I don’t plan on returning an item, giving the item as a gift, or verifying that the prices are correct I always just thrown them away anyways.  What a waste!
  • Refuse more than one napkin – or refuse them all and bring your own.  When you are at a restaurant do you really need more than one napkin per person (unless you have small children the answer is probably yes)?  Sure if you are eating ribs or chicken wings you may need more than one but for the average meal one napkin is plenty.  General rule of thumb – we may need 5 napkins but I doubt we need 25 of them with your Happy Meal.  Be honest, how many have you just thrown away unused?
  • Refuse bottled water. Bring your own refillable water bottle and fill it in a sink or faucet.  Whenever we visit friends or family away from home I will usually try to bring at least one bottle or cup with us.  Those new reusable plastic cups with lids and straws are the BEST yet!  I actually use them more than the bottles – and I remember to bring it more often.

The best part of talking with the kids is that I open up the conversation.  I don’t want to be all preachy and tell them what they ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do.  I ask them to brainstorm with me and come up with simple ways they can Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…and now Refuse!  I always love hearing what they come up with.  Last year I even talked about reusing cloth diapers and the kids loved it.

The final part of my presentation is always a quick craft project using found items.  I think the project they liked the best over the years was making bookmarks from cereal boxes.  I had them pre-cut and ready to decorate and they each got to take home a ‘brand new’ bookmark at the end of the day.

I need to look through our junk collection and plan our a project for this year.

Have you ever spoke to your kids class about your job or passion?  What are some ways you can encourage change by getting kids to start problem solving at a young age?

Photo source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1191196

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One Response to Teaching Kids to Be Green – the 4 R’s

  1. Pingback: Dear Mrs. P, — Cloth Diapers, Green Living and Going Green with Kids - The Eco Chic

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