Friday, June 28, 2013

Playgroundology: Play Panel Discussion

EcoYogini shares some thoughts on play...

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a fascinating panel discussion concerning playgrounds.
The "Play Panelists" and Host Alex Smith

To be fair, my childhood did not consist of visiting fun, interesting playgrounds. My village didn't have one. Instead, I grew up playing outside, in the woods near our house, on the ocean shore and in the woods near our cottage. Comparatively, playgrounds (as they existed in the school yards at that time) were boring. Even at my elementary school we spent more time in the wooded area (which is now off limits for kiddos) than on the cookie cutter playground equipment.

Which just goes to show that playgrounds could be so much more interesting for child development and learning. If we can just get beyond our own selves.

The discussion was organized by the creator of the phenomenal blog "Playgroundology": Alex Smith. Alex is the father of four lovely children, three of which are often featured playing in playgrounds around HRM on his blog (I especially love his Father's Day post: "Dads4Play" you should check it out!).

He's also the editor and creator of "Halifax Plays" which chronicles his discovery of playgrounds around HRM (an extremely useful site for any HRM or even Nova Scotian playgroundologist :) ).

The panel discussion included a panel of four "experts" (the play people panel) in the fields relating to playgrounds:

Rachel Hawkes Cameron: A recent graduate of NSCAD's Master's of Design Program. Rachel presented her thesis; "From the Playground Up" which was an exploration of the benefits of provocative playgrounds. (You can actually view her thesis in electronic form here!).
(Playground in Europe- parents AND children are all actively involved in the play- Rachel assured us the parents were not in fact yelling cautionary comments for the children to be safe, but encouraging them in their climbing. 
Photo from "Playgrounds" at RachelHawkesCameron.com)

What I found absolutely amazing were her photos and her reviews from her travels to playgrounds in different parts of the world. The theme of perceived threat to safety (and we all agreed, a certain level of manufacturing fear from the media), was present throughout all four panelist's discussions and I would say evidence of one of the largest barrier's our North American society has in promoting creative and developmentally stimulating play.

Sarah MacKeigan: Sarah is actually someone I know from another "life"; as she's a local yoga instructor (one of my favs!). So it was neat seeing her in another context. Sarah is the project lead for Stepping Up Halifax- which helps communities and organizations link together to encourage physical activity in HRM.

What Sarah reminded us, was the connection of play and playgrounds to the physical health of our children (and ourselves). The current stats on our children's failure to achieve recommended amounts of physical activity are frightening and for myself it was a reminder that in this digital world we, as adults, need to make the decision that our children *will* play outside and that we actually need to be physically active role models ourselves.

Be the change you wish to see...

Bridget Quigley: Bridget actually began our discussion with her story on how she, along with a group of other motivated parents, managed to fundraise and build a more innovative and creative playground for her local school.

Bridget's take on playground spaces was something I had never considered: the importance of making playgrounds and play spaces a permanent *community* focused fixture as opposed to a place for children only. Along with the "permanence" theme, I loved how her group used natural elements such as logs and pieces of cement and stone from a local demolished church.

Bridget's message was clear: if we want change and creative play spaces for our children, we may have to take that step in advocacy ourselves.

Sue Sirrs: Sue is the principal landscape architect for "Outside Planning and Design" which was the project lead for the fabulous Submarine Playground on the Halifax waterfront. Sue brought with her the safety guidelines from the provincial government on public playground equipment and play spaces... which is several hundred pages thick and filled with overly cautious (and litigation-cautious, let's be honest) regulations and stipulations.
(Alex and his three youngest posing at the submarine playground at the Halifax waterfront. 
Photo credit: http://playgroundchronicles.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/the-play-people-panel-alderney-gate-library-june-12-from-7-830-pm/) 

Although disheartening to see our society move towards such a "bubblewrapped kid" culture, the positive piece is two fold:

a) a little bit of parent and social education around child learning (and de-fear mongering) can go a long way
b) government leadership IS possible in removing barriers and redtape to childhood education. A fabulous example of this is New Zealand's innovative and internationally lauded early childhood education legislation: Te Whariki.

So on this Canada Day Weekend, my fellow Canadian peeps; Go get out there and play!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not


Mindful Echo will happily dig through your trash pile in search of treasure.

Since living in Halifax I've experienced an interesting phenomenon: the curbside giveaway.

In addition to two annually-scheduled region-wide events, the citizens of Halifax proper - and to a lesser extent, the municipality at large - love to give things away. I'm not sure if it's because Halifax is a student-filled town, home to three universities and a college, or maybe it's just that Atlantic Canada is typically low to middle income families who appreciate the value of a dollar.

Sure, I had seen the occasional piece of furniture on someone's lawn with a "free" sign in the other cities in which I've lived, but never to this extent. Without exaggeration I can say that a sunny day in Halifax will guarantee a handful of curbside "free stuff" piles.

Don't get me wrong; sometimes it's total crap. But every now and then, there's a gem to be found. It's these gems that make the treasure hunting worthwhile.


This antique desk chair was a curbside find a few weeks ago. It's solid wood and in perfect condition. As you can see, it was claimed almost immediately by Leroy, who appreciates recycling as much as I do.
Regardless of what motivates this type of sharing, it's obvious to me that it beats out store-bought items almost 100% of the time.This is particuarly the case for me, as I can't always afford the high quality, built-to-last furniture that I would like to purchase. My price range is more in line with a certain company that sells Swedish-designed, particle board, DIY furniture. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about; while the designs are sleek and fun, the furniture itself rarely lasts for any significant length of time. Thus, second-hand is the ideal solution for my situation.

A friend who is moving out of town hooked me up with these goodies. I wouldn't recommend taking opened food from someone you don't know and trust though.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, we score a D on the municipal waste generation report card, placing last out of 17 countries. How embarrassing.

In our current culture of convenience, it makes sense that we're content with regularly replacing crappy furniture and other items with new versions of the same. Since so few things are built to last, we've come to expect a short lifespan on most of our home investments.

What's so wrong about just tossing your old crap? Actually, a lot. The more municipal waste we create, the more environmental issues arise, including the destruction of animal habitats, groundwater pollution, and a number of other forms of air, soil, and water contamination.

I found this free chest last weekend. I took it home, removed the lid, and now it's a planter-in-progress.


Planter-in-progress. Soil needed. :)
This post should leave you with two future actions to consider: First is to think about donating your used items before tossing them. Post them on your FB to offer items up among friends. Alternatively, you could drop them in donation box of your charity of choice.

Second is to be conscientious of your purchases. Does it have to be something bought new or could you make-do with second-hand? For me the incentive of vintage quality is my motivation, and finding items cheap or free just seals the deal.

Either way, think about how long that item will be of use to you before it just becomes another lump in a landfill.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Organic Pest Control


Queen Composter shares ways to rid house and garden of unwanted insect neighbours.

Happy Solstice!  Now that summer is officially upon us and gardens are blooming, Nature’s little critters are making an appearance and causing endless headaches. As a backyard vegetable gardener I appreciate the value of organic food because I understand how hard it is to keep destructive insects away from the plants without resorting to easy toxic pesticides. This makes me even more willing to pay for organic produce.

I use three different organic methods for dealing with unwanted insects in my house and in my garden: application of a green “pesticide”, removal by hand, or acceptance and living in harmony. I have found that green methods are never 100% effective and must be continually reapplied, which is why I suppose people use toxic pesticides for their “slash and burn” effectiveness.

The three critters that are making my life difficult at the moment are ants, caterpillars and aphids.

Ants

A sure fire sign of the temperature warming up around my home is the arrival of ants trying to get into my home. 
The sand or dirt pile around the nest hole.
This is in the cracks of the concrete by my garage.
The method that I find the most effective is a Borax mixture, which the ants ingest and take back to the nest. This is supposed to kill all the ants in the nest, including the queen, if enough is brought back. I mix approximately one cup of water with one cup of sugar and 1/8 cup of Borax and heat it up on the stove until everything is completely dissolved. I have seen different ingredient ratios (with a smaller amount of Borax) but they are less effective for me.  Then I clean the areas that the ants have been so erase any of the scent trails they have left for their buddies back at the nest. I have cats and small children and Borax can be toxic if ingested in large amounts, so I soak cotton pads in the mixture and put them inside a plastic container with a small hole cut out of the side for the ants to get in. I place the container near the ant entrance location. Sometimes I have to pour some of the mixture into the cracks of the door frame where they hide.  I also try to locate the nest and pour some down the hole. Other times just pouring boiling water down the hole does the trick, albeit temporarily because it never penetrates deeply enough to the queen.
Inside the hole is a Borax solution soaked cotton ball.
My raised garden beds and large planters are full of ants and after initially trying to rid my beds of ants, which began to feel like a Sisyphean task, I took the last approach, living in harmony with them. After all, the ants aerate the soil, which is good. As long as they don’t come into my home I’m ok with them in my garden. The problem with ants, however, is that they “milk” aphids for their honeydew secretions. So where there are ants I find aphids.

Aphids

When I water my garden or my house plants I take the time to inspect them carefully, especially along the stalks, underneath the leaves and on new growth. If there are only a few, I brush them off and check again the next day. But sometimes they multiply quickly and before I know it I have an infestation. I use insecticidal soap and spray directly on the aphids. Commercial insecticidal soap sprays may contain soy, so I suggest making it from scratch. It's easy, just two tablespoons (or slightly more) of liquid castile soap and one quart of water in a spray bottle (any stronger may burn the leaves). The plants can be eaten right after spraying if thoroughly washed. Just be sure to check every day because once I have them I know they’ll be back.
So gross, yet fascinating, close up.
I have had ladybugs in my garden and they are effective at eating the aphids, but they also fly away.

Caterpillars

Cabbage moths, those pretty white moths that my daughters like to chase, lay eggs on my plants. Their caterpillars eat all my Brussels sprouts and other plants related to the cabbage. I have garden cloth to lay over my young plants, which I forgot to do, and now I must deal with the green wiggly things slowly decimating my plants. I have found the best way to deal with them is to find them and remove them by hand. Sometimes I can enlist my daughters to help with this. I have read some tutorials on sprinkling my plants with a flour and baking soda mixture which kills the caterpillars when they ingest it. I may have to try this out if they start to take over again this year.
How can they be destructive when they are fuzzy and cute?
Organic pest removal is more work than more toxic methods, and it can be truly maddening sometimes. Occasionally I have to admit defeat and accept the intrusion, or even pull up plants. I also have to accept that my garden will look less than perfect. In the end it is worth all the efforts when I can eat my own organic produce.

How do you deal with pests?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

To Prep or not to Prep

A while ago the New York Times ran an article about prepping, saying:

"Prepping is the big short: a bet not just against a city, or a country or a government, but against the whole idea of sustainable civilization. For that reason, it chafes against one of polite society’s last remaining taboos — that the way we live is not simply plagued by certain problems, but is itself insolubly problematic."

This is true, and maybe this is why no one talks about whether we should be preparing for some potential disaster, whether it be environmental or economic. For my part, all I've done is wonder if I should be prepping and read Sharon Astyk's books on how to adapt our lives and homes for an uncertain future.

But when the internet goes down at work for a few hours, it reminds me of how reliant we are on electricity and the internet. I'm so used to the idea of information being readily available at our fingertips - but there's no way to look up skills or tools if the internet's not working. I know how to bake bread, and my boyfriend knows how to make hard cider, but consuming and bartering those can only get one so far. My ability to grow my own food is quite limited, based on the meager supply coming out of my garden right now. Should I be spending more time on learning useful skills?

There's also the issue of prepping versus minimalism. I'm on the minimalist end of the spectrum, so the idea of having a stockpile of canned food and blankets and survivalist gear doesn't sit well with me, nor is there really room for it in my home.

I'm more in favor of the strategy espoused by Sharon Astyk - having things not just to hide away for some future emergency, but to find ways to incorporate them into your everyday life, which can reduce our reliance on infrastructure in the meantime. For example, using solar lanterns inside instead of lamps, using heavy blankets in winter to keep the heat low, and learning to grow your own food. Other items might be useful for camping trips.

When I asked my boyfriend if he's ever thought about it, he noted that he actually meant to create "go bags" for family holidays gifts last year. So maybe we'll get around to doing that for ourselves and loved ones next winter. And I think I'll take The Self-Sufficient Life out from the library.

Have you put any thought or work into prepping?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Get Outside and Play!

The Climate Crusader is resolving to play outside more.


The Summer Solstice is happening in just a few days on June 21, 2013. Here in Canada ParticipACTION - an organization dedicated to encouraging Canadians to get moving - is proposing that we celebrate it as the Longest Day of Play. The idea is that we can mark the solstice, which is often called the longest day of the year, by playing.

In my last post, I talked about the steps I'm taking to raise environmentally-conscious children. One of the big ones is spending more time outside. Fellow Green Phone Booth contributors Green Bean and Eco-novice weighed in, saying that they do the same thing. The idea is that the more time we spend outside with our kids, the stronger their connection to nature, and the more that they'll want to protect it.

With more hours of daylight at this time of year than any other, and with the arrival of summer, this is the perfect time to get outside and play. The benefits don't just come from building our connection with nature, either. The more time you're spending outside moving under your own steam, the less time you're spending doing things like driving around in your car, using electronic devices, shopping and so on. Not only is this better for your health, it can also reduce your environmental footprint by switching from carbon-producing activities to carbon-neutral activities.

Let me pause here for a confession: I'm trying to get better at spending more time outside with my kids, but that doesn't mean I'm always good at it. It's often easier to plunk them down in front of the TV while I get some work done than it is to head out into nature. But at this time of year we can head to the park after dinner or even just go out into our backyard to pick some carrots and raspberries and play in the evening. In February, when it gets dark early and the weather's cold, this isn't possible in the same way. So I'm trying to take advantage of the season and set the habit of getting outside as much as I can while the weather (and daylight) cooperates.

Why don't you consider making June 21 your Longest Day of Play, as well? It's a way to get your summer off to an active start, build your connection to nature, and embrace some fun that's easy on the planet. You don't have to have kids to get outside and play, either. Anyone can take a walk, go for a bike ride or explore a nature trail. You may be an adult - but you can still have fun!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When Environmental Issues Overlap with Culture and Heritage

Mindful Echo bemoans the cultural implications of fracking.

I think it's safe to say that, at this point, most people have heard about the environmental cost of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking). In fact, Climate Crusader wrote a great post about some of the issues not too long ago. By now, most of us have seen the pictures of drinking water being set aflame, and have read the stories about groundwater contamination and the release of chemicals into our atmosphere.

Aside: If you're a visual learner, this site gives a fantastic explanation of the fracking process.

While it's plain to see that there are real, long-term environmental consequences to fracking, I think that it's equally distressing to hear about how these endeavours impact the the people who live on this land, the people who have sacred connections to it, and the people who lack the agency and resources to stop it from happening - such as in the case of a number of Canadian Indigenous communities.

This past weekend, I read about how peaceful protestors are being arrested in New Brunswick, Canada as seismic testing is taking place in Signigtog, part of traditional Mi'kma'ki territory, in preparation for fracking. According to APTN News, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples of New Brunswick were not sufficiently consulted by the Province for this shale gas testing to occur. This raises the concern: if the Indigenous community wasn't involved in the decision-making at the testing phase, how will they have a voice if/when the government decides to allow the fracking to commence on their land?

Outside of Canada, there are also so many reports of communities being taken advantage of by the companies who are testing for, and carrying out, fracking procedures. One that really struck a chord with me is this story about the exploitation of Amish farmers. According to grist.org, oil companies are offering farmers amounts far below market value for the rights to drill on their land. Since Amish beliefs limit their options for recourse, it is pertinent that they negotiate reasonable contracts - something that isn't always happening. Not to mention, the destruction caused by the fracking procedure can and will hugely affect their farm-able land. As grist.org writes: "because the Amish don’t rely on modern farming technology, making a profit on their land is a constant struggle, so being cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars is especially painful." It's heartbreaking.

Photo: Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park

Fracking is affecting our ecological heritage as well. Those living around Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, know that it is a brilliant example of geological evolution in its demonstration of plate tectonics. It's our planet's geological history and it needs to be preserved. Gros Morne is a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place that I would love to visit someday. I have ancestral roots in Newfoundland and hate to think that the beautiful landscape will be forever changed for the worse before I, and generations to come, have a chance to experience it. Is gas development really worth losing this World Heritage Site?

Thankfully, a number of communities in Nova Scotia have successfully passed bylaws that prohibit or restrict fracking within their limits, as well as prevent the release of wastewater into local watersheds. It's a start and I'm so grateful for those who make the efforts to raise awareness and prevent fracking from happening in my own backyard.

At the same time, I'm afraid for those communities who have not been so lucky.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Please . . . No More Stuff!

From the bean of Green Bean.

One month ago, a wildfire lapped at my friend's door.  She was asked to evacuate - on two separate occasions.  Even though she had plenty of time, my friend filled only two paper grocery bags and left.  Only TWO!

She has lived in that house with her husband and two school aged kids for over 10 years.  Out of all the things they had accumulated in that time, only a handful were worth saving.

How many of us would have filled more bags?  When it comes down to it, I'd guess that most of us would have left most of our stuff behind as well.

Yet, modern life seems to be centered around stuff.

Yearning for it.  Saving to buy it.  Splurging on It. Using it.  Cleaning it.  Maintaining it.  Tiring of it.  Getting rid of it.

I can get a grip on my own things but what about the children?  Every trip to the doctor or dentist involves a toy or two for the kids.  Every outing with the grandparents ends with some non-consumable goodie or other.  Outings to major league sports games culminate with free door prizes of bobble heads, crazy hats or "rally rags."  Every minor holiday or fair yields an endless amount of pencils, erasers, plastic rings and parachute men.  Class parties, season end sport's parties, birthday parties all involve more stuff.  And let us not forget birthdays, Christmas and Hanukah, Halloween and Easter.

Until we are drowning in stuff.  Literally.  The photo below is my son's room.


My question - when faced with a situation like my friend's - is this?

Is all this stuff worth the havoc we wreak on the environment to produce it?  (Check out Story of Stuff  for the price our forests and oceans pay for parachute men and bobble heads).

Is this stuff worth the money we earn and save to buy it?

Is this stuff worth the effort to clean it, move it, maintain it, and eventually get rid of it?

For me, the answer is a resounding NO!  For me, there is just too much stuff.

What have you done to reduce the amount of "stuff" in your life?  Declutter?  Put a moratorium on new items?  Move to experiences rather than materials?  How have you encouraged family and community members to get on board?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Introducing Queen Composter


I am Queen Composter, a newbie blogger, mother, elementary teacher and wife. I live in an historic fishing village in a suburb of Vancouver, B.C. I live a short walk or bike ride to wetlands, beaches and farms. Being close to a natural setting is very important to me and is part of the reason why I love living here.
The river bank at the mouth of the Fraser River, one of my happy places.

While I have always been a little crunchy and worried about the impact my actions have upon the Earth, having my own children has made me more aware of the kind of world I would like to leave. This is a cliché but it is so true for many people; children help us realize it is no longer just about us. We have a tangible link to the future.
Me and my youngest on an autumn nature walk.

I took a leap and started blogging a little under a year ago to document what I was doing to live an eco-conscious life, to connect with like-minded people and to learn from others. I believe in teaching through modeling and I try to be an example for my students and my own three young daughters. In the same way that being a teacher and parent has made me be more conscious and mindful of my actions, blogging has helped to make me accountable, at least in my own mind, of what I do and why I do it.

Blogging has also helped to push my eco boundaries, to try new things and grow. The biggest challenge, and biggest area of change for me, is the first environmental R – reduce. My consumer choices as an eco aware suburbanite are somewhat limited, so I have found that making my own products from scratch (or as close to scratch as possible) is the best way for me to reduce my family’s exposure to toxic ingredients and to reduce excess packaging.

My backyard garden so far this year: strawberries, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, kale, chard, onions, various herbs, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, beans, peas, quinoa, beets, various summer squash and greens.

I am also a newbie gardener and passionate composter. I grew up watching and helping my grandmother in her extensive vegetable garden, but as an adult I have lived in apartments and a townhouse and have had to be content with container and small space gardening, which presents challenges for someone with a would-be green thumb. When we moved to our single family home just over three years ago it was a dream come true for me and I immediately set my sights upon tearing up the lawn and growing vegetables. I currently have four raised garden beds, numerous garden containers, raspberries, blueberries, and an apple tree. My garden is a work in progress and labour of love. 

I have much to learn on my eco path and I am excited to be a part of The Green Phone Booth. It is a vibrant community of eco heroes and I hope to add to the discussion.

I can also be found blogging about all things green at Eco Journey In The Burbs and on twitter @christyrollo.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Trying to Shop Eco-Consciously

Julia from Color Me Green shares her complex and laborious approach to shopping.

My approaches to shopping tend to skew toward opposite spectrums. On one end, about half of the clothes I have collected over the years have been gifted to me for free by friends or my sisters. Most of the rest of my clothes are bought at thrift or consignment stores.

On the other hand, if I get in mind a particular item I want, I try to find a high quality version of it that will best meet my needs, even if it's expensive. While it seems contradictory that I am both into cheap and free clothing while also willing to spend a lot when buying something new - it's really all part of my approach to reducing resource consumption.

I welcome clothing cast offs from friends because it means I don't need to go out and buy something new and waste the world's resources - and I also don't need to spend my time or money on shopping. When I do need to buy something new, I want the best version for me that will last a long time, so I won't need to keep buying more stuff. For example, when I buy a pair of shoes, I want it to be classy enough for the office, but also comfortable enough for walking all day or dancing all night. I don't want to own multiple shoes to fit many different situations when I can find one or a few pairs to fit lots of purposes.

This leads to extensively long and laborious searches for the perfect this or that, which makes shopping seem like a lot of work and reinforces my desire to buy only the best so that I won't have to spend the time shopping again for a while. But finding high quality clothing is surprisingly hard. There are not a lot of good resources out there, and I don't trust price as an indicator.

Eco-friendly lines are often available only online or can not be found reliably in stores, which makes it hard to try things on. For my current shoe search, I'm using Zappos, even though I'd rather frequent local stores, just because I don't have time to go all over town from store to store until I find something that works. Lately, I've also had some success with Etsy, as many sellers are willing to custom-make items to fit your size or wants.

Much of my wardrobe doesn't fit perfectly because they're castoffs from friends or I've had it for so long that it's worn down and stretched out. But I'm not willing to go out and spend a small fortune to replace my whole wardrobe.

When things happen like the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, I stop caring that my wardrobe isn't perfect and am glad that I'm already doing what I can to avoid contributing to the ethical and environmental problems of the fashion industry, and then I stop car. Apparently Bangladesh is in the news again today as hundreds of garment workers have fallen sick from contaminated water.

What's your approach to shopping? Do the recent news about the conditions of garment workers make you think twice about where you get your clothes? Do you have any favorite brands or places to shop for eco-friendly clothes that you can share?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Raising Little Environmentalists

The Climate Crusader is trying to share her sustainable lifestyle with her kids.

I have two children. My daughter is eight years old, and my son is four and a half. As they get older, I'm spending more and more time thinking about how to involve them in my efforts to live more sustainably. Of course, they've always had a front row seat as I work in my garden, take out my compost, sort my recycling, visit the farmers' market, and so on. But increasingly, they're able to understand what we're doing and why, as well as make choices for themselves.

Any parent can tell you that lecturing kids isn't exactly the most effective way to get your message across. Your kids' eyes glaze over, and they stop listening, as you extoll the virtues of using less toilet paper or turning off the tap while you brush your teeth. So, other than lecturing or the modelling I'm doing already, I've been spending some time lately considering how to raise little environmentalists. Here's what I've come up with so far.

Down by the creek
Releasing salmon into a local stream

 Raising Little Environmentalists

  1. Get outside with your kids. A desire to take better care of the planet often grows out of a love for the natural world. The more time that you spend outdoors exploring, whether you're hiking in the wilderness, wading in a stream, playing on the beach or even just chilling in your back yard, the greater the connection your kids will feel with nature.
  2. Attend special events where your kids can learn about the environment. Here where my family lives in the Vancouver area, there are lots of community events, festivals and fairs that offer you a chance to learn about the environment. Whether you're attending a harvest festival, participating in a shoreline clean-up, or releasing baby salmon for their journey out to sea, this is a fun, family-friendly way to learn more about the planet and how to care for it.
  3. Join up and sign up. If you can, consider joining a local club or taking a class with a green focus. A young naturalists' club is a great option, if it's available in your community. Summer day camps (or overnight camps) that give your kids a chance to spend time outside or get up close and personal with animals or organic gardening are also fabulous. These programs take the onus off of you to teach your kids everything, as well as offering a whole lot of fun.
  4. Ask your kids to help you make decisions. As my own children get older, I find they're better able to take part in our family's decision-making. I also find that when they're involved in making a decision, they're more likely to abide by it. Plus, sometimes they have really good ideas. So why not consider asking your kids for their ideas? You may be surprised by what they have to share.
  5. Reduce screen time. I admit it - this one is a hard one. Like a lot of parents, I sometimes lean on the electronic babysitter more than I should. However, I notice that the more time my kids spend in front of the TV, the more advertising they see, and the more they ask for stuff. Those commercials make toys and junk food look so darn appealing. By cutting back, or opting for advertising-free TV, I'm able to reduce the gimmes and stem the tide of consumerism for my family.
What about you? What do you do to get your kids involved in your sustainable lifestyle?

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