Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So the Parent Becomes the Student

Before moving eight months ago I was decidedly environmentally unfriendly. I never recycled anything, drank only bottled water, hardly ever used travel mugs for my trips to Starbucks or reusable bags for groceries. I never thought twice about the amount of garbage we produced, how many lights we left on or how much gas we burned running errands. I thought all the environmental chatter was generally tree-hugging propaganda and I wasn't buying into it.

When we moved to our new town things began to change. There is a two bag garbage limit per week per household so we started to recycle. The grocery store gives a discount when you use reusable bags so I started carrying bags to the store with me. Then the kids started school and we started hearing a phrase over and over again. Sustainable Development.

At first I chalked it up to more tree-hugging nonsense but then I started listening, really listening to the concept and the practical application of this idea. I thought about the meaning of these two words ('Sustainable' meaning lasting and 'development' meaning growth and progress.) and started talking to people who were passionate about this idea. The more they shared their passion, ideas and practical application for sustainable development the more interested I became.

 Gradually, I began to understand the value, as a parent, of teaching this concept to my kids. Its about responsibility and being a good steward of the resources we have. It's much like asking the kids to pick up after themselves and take care of what belongs to them. If you want the good things in your life to last then you have to take care of them, it's just that simple.

When I started talking to the kids about this, excited to be imparting some of my new found wisdom to them, I found they already knew all about it. Truth be told, they could teach me a thing or two about this concept because they are living sustainable development, its pat of their every day lives at school.  Ask any kid about the value of taking care of the environment and they'll be able to tell you the how and the why behind this idea. They know that if we want future generations to enjoy our world, to be able to hike, swim and explore nature then it's their responsibility to take care of, and improve, what they have now. They know that change is up to them, and that it starts with the small stuff.

Earth Day is on April 22 and in preparation my kids' school has been amping up the SD ideas. They have been encouraging us to send litter-less lunches, encouraging the kids to use 'garabge' for crafts and a million other tiny ideas. The kids are excited about living a lasting legacy and not a lasting environmental mess. This year Earth Day means something in this Random House. This year we are switching off, unplugging, reusing and rethinking how we can show respect for our world. And like Dude pointed out yesterday, we're even going to get a used and recycled  dog.

Anyway here are a couple of links to some websites give some great ideas on Earth Day and Sustainable Development. Its not about the grand gesture of building a house out of milk jugs and tin cans ... it's about doing the every day, little things that add up to something big, something earth saving.

Earth Day Canada

Yes! Magazine


PBS Kids

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