Question of the MonthOct. 2nd

PP Question_Leaf

How do you pack a more healthy, sustainable lunch for your kids?

lunch bentos

With everyone caught in the Back to School frenzy, our October topic is all about our desire to explore how to pack our kid’s lunches in a way that aligns with our values regarding keeping our planet and our bodies clean and sustainable. With many modern parenting issues, there are often more questions than answers that come up, and we are all about taking ideas and putting them into action. For some, sustainable may be about organic, for others, about going vegan, or even dabbling in urban permaculture. In the end, we all have to make it work within our family’s budget and time constraints. It isn’t a contest to see who is the greenest parent, but comes from a desire to put good things in our children’s bodies so that they can feel healthy, happy, and energetic. We want to show our kids how to be stewards of the earth and make good choices for themselves and their future families. The resources that come out of making these inquiries will hopefully help you come to terms with the lunchbox struggle in a way that fits your values.

This month we will be sharing ideas, recipes, and yes, PLAYING around on Youtube! Stay tuned!

Water WisdomMar. 25th

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W = Water Wisdom

Water WisdomTalk to children about the importance of water conservation.

Clean drinking water is something that many families assume is and will always be readily available. We turn on the tap and clean water comes out, like magic. The reality, however, is that our water supply needs to be protected and our resources conserved if we hope to have clean water available all over the world for future generations. Preventing pollution keeps water safe for drinking, while conservation reduces operating costs and the need to expand water infrastructures. Wasting water has dire consequences, for our oceans and land, and for our everyday life. Water equals life, so it is one of our most important resources. The good thing is our children come into contact with water so many times a day and have a natural affinity with our oceans and waterways that we have lots of reachable, teachable moments to share with them to talk about the importance of water conservation and protection.

The average American uses 100 gallons of water every day!

Simple Steps

  • Replace faucets and shower heads. Leaks account for as much as 14% of the water used in the United States. Replace leaky faucets and shower heads with low-flow models to eliminate waste.
  • Shut the water off when you brush your teeth. Get kids involved in water conservation by teaching them to turn off the faucet when the water isn’t being used.
  • Adopt your watershed. Get involved as a family to help monitor the safety of your local watershed, organize trash pickups in the area, and educate your community about your local watershed.
  • Landscape your yard with native plants. Using plants indigenous to your region reduces (and may even eliminate) the need for additional watering. If you do need to water, water in the early mornings or late evenings to avoid losing water to evaporation.
  • Take lots of family trips to lakes, oceans and rivers! Learn about season and environmental water changes, aquatic creatures and groovy water plants. Teach children the impact of pollution and find ways to participate in cleaning up shores. By visiting natural water destinations you’ll foster a fundamental love of everything from springs to waterfalls to rolling tides, and your children will be lifelong advocates of water conservation.

Learn More
Read more about how to adopt a watershed. Visit the EPA’s WaterSense for Kids website to teach kids about water conservation.

Park Ur CarMar. 25th

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P = Park Ur Car

Are you looking for a way to improve your health, help the environment, and support your local economy? Get rid of your car!

Well, unless you live in an urban area with great public transportation, going completely car-free for many of families would be a big leap. But it isn’t all of nothing. You can still make a big impact on your health, the local economy, and the environment by choosing to drive your car less often.
Driving less often means you’ll reduce the amount of fossil fuels you use. Parking your car more often can also save you money on other maintenance costs that are hidden in the high cost of car ownership. The benefits to your lifestyle are huge. You may find that you are more likely to visit local businesses because they are closer and easier to get to, which helps to support your community’s economy and strengthen your community ties, and you might buy less, because you have to think about transporting things home instead of mindlessly dumping countless items in your trunk. And of course, if you choose to walk or ride a bike instead of driving, you’ll benefit physically and emotionally from the extra exercise and time outside. Even if you aren’t ready to give up your car completely, making an effort to drive less often can improve your health, mood and bank account.

The average American uses 450 gallons of oil per year in their vehicles.

Simple Steps

  • Use public transportation. Although public transportation still uses energy, the total resources used is much less per person. This is a great way to get across town that often costs less than driving, and you don’t have to be the one paying attention to the road. Many children love busses, subways and trains more than cars, because public transportation gives a sense of adventure to the trip.
  • Pick one car-free day. Choosing one day per week to give up driving encourages habits like walk or biking to nearby businesses and planning your errands more efficiently.
  • Park your car BEFORE you leave for work. Looking into alternative ways to get to work or school or another big daily commute, including public transportation or riding a bike will yield the biggest impact. You might start a carpool program with other co-workers who are interested in driving less.

Learn More

Read about celebrating World Car Free Day on September 22nd each year. You can also read Tammy Strobel’s e-book, Simply Car Free for more information and inspiration. Several apps and services help families live with only one car instead of two or help people live car-less lives. See if your community has a Zipcar service, or if you can find others who share your commute at eRideShare.

Nurture NatureMar. 23rd

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N = Nurture Nature

Nurture NatureTaking time to enjoy the great outdoors may, it seems, actually make us better people!

As parents, we understand the importance of encouraging our kids to get outside on a regular basis. Outdoor play is an essential part of a child’s development. So is time to connect with all of the natural Eco-systems around us—oceans, rivers, streams, desert trails, buttes, mountain tops, forests and gardens are full of lessons, healing and wonder. Growing up shouldn’t keep us from making time for nature. In fact, research has shown that getting outside to enjoy nature and fresh air has multiple benefits for adults. It helps to make us feel better about ourselves and encourages us to be less self-focused and more other-focused. Spending time in nature helps reduce stress, improve mood, and promote an overall increase in well-being.
Loving the outdoors also makes us natural conservationists. Children who grow up connected to the world of nature are investing in protecting and preserving it, and family’s who include Eco-stewardship in their activities reap all sorts of benefits.

Hospital patients with a view of nature recover faster than hospital patients without a view.

Simple Steps

  • Go for a nature walk. Make the most of your mini-trek by trying to name the plants and animals you see. You might snap a few cell phone photos of species you want to look up later. Digital photography is a hobby even young children can enjoy, and can be a great tool for appreciating what they see. Collect photos of the insects you see on your walks, or of the color of dirt or sand at different locations.
  • Plant something. Whether it’s a vegetable garden, flower containers, or a tree, a hands-on experience with nature has restorative properties for you and the environment.
  • Create a weather chart with your kids. Keeping track of the weather is a great way to build a habit of observing nature as it occurs around us and at different locations.
  • Go camping. A night spent sleeping under the stars or in a tent is great for getting in touch with nature. It’s also a good ways for families to unplug and reconnect together.

Learn More

TeachKidsHow.com offers tips for teaching kids of all ages about nature. The Arbor Day Foundation website provides lots of ideas for how kids and adults can get involved in enjoying and preserving nature.