I’ve always been a bit of a keen green kind of person. When we had kids, we became extra aware of how our consumption was impacting the world around us. Somehow, the addition of 2 little people has had a tremendous ripple effect on how we lead our lives. For the next couple of day we are going to explore what it means to raise an eco-friendly kid. I hope to share lots of tips and tricks…but, I also hope to share some more thoughtful information with you. Perhaps some information that will help you understand how easy and important it is to be conscious our little lives have on the big Earth.

A – Assess Your Motivation – Thinking of making some changes in your life? Thinking about trying to live a little greener? What’s your motivation? Assessing your motivation can help you determine what your “first steps” down the new path might be. The easiest way to assess your motivation is to make a quick list. What are 3 things in your family’s life right now impact the environment and concern you the most? Could be your health and diet, could be a long commute to work, could be the mountains of trash that you throw away each week, could be the mountains of plastic toys that you store every day, or it could simply be curiosity. Whatever your family’s motivation to change might be it truly is the place to start.
B – Baking Soda – Yep, baking soda! Why, you ask? Because baking soda is a super affordable and super available and super earth friendly product that is the mega-multi-tasker in any house. Baking soda can work as a deodorizer (think stinky diaper pails and sport equipment). Baking soda is an incredible  cleaner…think crayon marks on the wall. Combined with it’s best friend white vinegar and you have a super powered cleaner for sinks, toilets, bath tubs and dishes. Top it all off with the fact that you can use it to bake with and you have to admit baking soda is pretty awesome. (check out Care2.com’s 51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda)

C – Compost and Camping – Okay, I couldn’t help myself…two options for “c”. Compost is an easy one. If your city doesn’t collect compostable food items then creating your own backyard compost pile is fairly easy to do. Check out this post from Growing Green Fingered Kids for a little how-to. As for camping, well the easiest way to get kids to love and respect the Earth is to take them outside to explore it. Camping can seem overwhelming and yes there is some gear you will need. But, when you sleep outside in a tent you will feel like a kid again.  If you can’t make to the nearest campground you can always camp in your own backyard. Pitch a tent, bring a book and a flashlight. Listen to the night sounds, examine the stars in the night sky and wake up with the sun. Camping creates a true connection with our environment and believe me, your kids will never forget your camping trip.

D – Dandelions – Dandelions are a weed that grows exceedingly well in our part of the world (Toronto). Dandelions are a great example of a wild flower that has been labelled a “weed” and is therefore a top priority outlaw in any lawn. So, how can we deal with weeds in a more eco-friendly way? Put away the pesticides and look for alternative ways to deal with your local weeds. Teaching kids how to properly pull weeds is a great lesson in responsibility.
E – Earth Day – Do you celebrate Earth Day? I mean do you really celebrate Earth Day? While it is true that everyday should be Earth Day, it is very important that we take advantage of the one day of the year when everyone is truly focused on issues effecting the Earth. So, this year bake a cake with your kids and really celebrate mother Earth. (check out Earth Day Canada’s site for more Earth Day inspiration)
F – Farmers’ Market – Is there any better way to spend a Sunday morning then wandering through a farmers’ market? Taking children to a market can be as incredible as visiting an amusement park (okay, I might be exaggerating on that one). Make your next trip to the farmers’ market super educational and fun for the kids; get the kids to plan a meal, make a list, carry the basket, meet the farmers, sample the food, try something they have never tried before. See what I mean, the farmers’ market can really open your children’s eyes to the beauty of food.
G – Garden at Home – One of the easiest ways to help kids understand the importance of the Earth is to show them how the Earth provides for us all. There might not be anything quite as magical as watching a seed grow into a seedling, grow into a plant and produce a tomato. Seriously, I am still amazed when I see a cucumber growing in our garden. It doesn’t matter how much space you have, you always have room for a garden. A pot of herbs on a window sill will teach your children about the glorious cycle of food…seed, plant, food. (check out NurtureStore’s amazing The Garden Classroom for over 50 kid gardening activities)

H – Harvesting – Speaking of growing a garden, don’t forget to get the kids out there harvesting the produce. Get those little fingers dirty harvesting and drying herbs and saving seeds from tomatoes for the next season’s crops. (check out the Pinterest boards : Edible Gardens & Lands and Gardening)

I – Investigation – Kids are always curious…this is where investigation comes in. Exploring your environment through investigation provides kids with an opportunity to thoroughly learn and understand new concepts. Set up a rain gauge, make your own weather vane, explore how solids become liquids. There are so many amazing things to investigate in the world around us. (A great site for science fun for kids is Science Sparks)
J – Jamming – Nope, I am not referring to jamming with your musical friends. I am talking about taking the food you have grown and harvested and extending it’s life through preservation…jamming. We love heading to the local strawberry field each year and collecting baskets of strawberries that we make into yummy strawberry jam. (go to Pick-Your-Own.org to find a farm near you…worldwide site)
K – Knowledge – A lot of what goes into raising eco-friendly kids is “behind the scenes”. As parents we make the choice and we do the research. There are so many studies being released about our food, plastics and chemicals in our lives it’s enough to make a parent’s head spin. But didn’t someone once say that knowledge is power? So, sometimes it is worth while to do the research and gain knowledge…sets a great example for kids…until they are old enough to do the research themselves. (The Great Organic Produce Debate,  Which Milk to Drink, Are Room Deodorizers Safe?)
L – the Local Movement – Have you heard people touting the importance of eating local, shopping local, buying local? What’s that all about anyway? Well, it is pretty simple. In a world where the price and availability of oil is not always certain it is important sometimes to look at how far the goods we consume have travelled to get to our plate. Now maybe it isn’t realistic to shop 100% local where you live…but what about 50% local? Buying seasonal and locally grown produce not only supports farmers in your local community but it cuts down on food being shipped and flown all over the world. We’re going to be exploring the local movement throughout 2013 on the blog – it’s a concept I am curious to know more about. (a great article about the local movement can be found on TreeHugger.com)

M – Metamorphosis – Last summer we grew our own butterflies! What an incredible experience that was. We purchased tiny (I mean pin head sized) caterpillars and watched as they metamorphosed into beautiful butterflies. Hands on interaction with nature is pure magic. The reality that some of our caterpillars did not survive and some of our butterflies were not “perfect” is an amazing life lesson for children. Nature is never perfect…we cannot expect perfection from ourselves either. I think that’s a pretty great lesson for kids and adults.

* wondering about N thru Z…check out ABC’s of Raising Eco-Friendly Kids – Part 2 *
The “ABC’s of…” is a web-wide series which involves over 70 Kid Bloggers sharing fabulous A-Z tips, activities and information about a variety of kid-related subjects. Raising Eco-Friendly Kids is part of the Mom’s Tips and Tricks segment of the series. Please, browse through all the incredible topics and blogs that are taking part…

Being a Hands on Mom from hands on : as we grow
Connecting with your Kids from One Perfect Day
Family Field Trips with Kids from Edventures with Kids
Fun Healthy Snacks for Kids from Juggling with Kids
Kids Party Ideas from Mama Pea Pod
Mama Survival from The Dizzy Mom
Organized Home from Mamas Like Me
Printables from Mama Miss
Raising Boys from Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Raising Eco-Friendly Kids from Kitchen Counter Chronicles
Raising Girls from Mess for Less
Raising a Healthy Kid from Living Life Intentionally
Raising a Thinking Child from The Outlaw Mom
Raising Toddlers from Home Learning Journey
Raising a World Citizen from All Done Monkey
Simply Celebrating Holidays as a Family from Inspired by Family Magazine
Teaching Kids about Money from Carrots are Orange
The Family Dinner Table from Connecting Family & Seoul
Values for Children from True Aim Education

Looking for more ways to connect with your kids, why not follow Kitchen Counter Chronicles on Facebook, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter.

Cerys @ rainy day mum January 7, 2013 at 9:08 am

What a fantastic part 1 I can’t wait for part 2. Some really great points and have pinned to my parenting and life inspiration board

Jen Farr January 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

Thanks so much Cerys.

JDaniel4's Mom January 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

This is wonderful post! I remember teaching my son to pull weeds correctly. It was such fun.

Jen Farr January 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

Thanks so much, weeds aren’t so bad when you think about it.

Hannah White January 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I love this! Thanks so much for sharig it with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday!!

Becki Lewis January 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Thanks for sharing this on Eco Kids! It was our most popular link, and I LOVE it. I’m featuring it tomorrow (and I’m your newest follower too!)

Jen Farr January 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm

thanks so much Becki! That’s awesome! I’ll be sure to check it out and share!

Hannah White January 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

Popping back in to let you know that I (too lol) am featuring your post on Eco-Kids Tuesday!! Great info! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/01/eco-kids-tuesday-link-up.html

Karen January 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Thanks for the shout out for Earth Day Canada! We’ll be offering a kids action campaign for Earth Month!

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