Sunday, July 5, 2009

Encouraging your toddler to be Green

While many of us may struggle to make changes in the home, workplace or everyday life, if our children are brought up being taught by example and by understanding impact, future generations will surely benefit.

As a 30 something first time mum, I have found that I have the “best of both worlds”. I grew up knowing how much fun it was to run under the sprinkler on a warm day, to stand and water the plants until they are floating in a pool of goey mess (not sure if this was my best gardening feat) and to run a bath so full that it overflowed all over the bathroom floor!

Nowadays, I find myself congratulating my family that we have managed to meet the governments targeted water usage of 155 L per day. I bathe my daughter once a week, and bath time is a special occasion and one to be enjoyed. Every other day, it’s a quick jump in the shower to save water, but still fun nonetheless

We have fun playing with the big bucket in the shower, (this collects the shower water that not only our indoor plants, but half of our grass “patch” as well!) and we take turns bucketing water from the bath to the garden to ensure that the bath water is recycled as well. By involving Mia in this process, she has learnt that water is precious and needs to be used wisely.

Now that my parents have retired, they spend an amazing amount of time in their super-dooper “organic patch” at the bottom of their garden. It is always a trip to look forward to when visiting, as Mia enjoys a special trip to the “Patch” with Grandma and Grandpa” to find hidden delights! Some of her favourites are the Raspberries, Strawberries and baby carrots. She not only understands at the age of two and a half, that fresh foods come from plants or in the ground, she has started to grasp the concept of “seasonal” and loves going to hunt around for the best of the crop.

(Oh– it was a sad day when the raspberry canes stopped offering their succulent berries though!)

Another favourite is Grandmas 3 chickens. A warm egg that she saw drop straight from the bum of a chook soon set her straight as to whether eggs “materialize on the supermarket shelf each week in their little boxes, or whether they come from somewhere else….” in fact, if you ask her where eggs come from, she proudly tells you that its from a chickens "bot-tom"

You may not have your own chickens, veggie patch, or parents who have the time to maintain one, yet there are many ways we can introduce this concept to our little ones—Many communities offer a “Municipal or community garden”. Our council has set one up with around 6 large garden beds, full of a mix of herbs, veggies and fruit, along with a big wood fire oven and other areas to cook. Take your child for an outing, meet new people and lend a hand in the garden! In areas with strong multicultural groups, there is a lot to be learned in relation to gardening, preparation and cooking. Other great day trips can be farmers markets or berry/fruit picking in outer regional areas. Your child will love the fresh air, the amazing taste of organic produce and the boundless knowledge that is to gained from visiting these places.

Think about ways of teaching your munchkin to recycle. Every 2 year old will love taking their empty containers (eg: yoghurt cups/sultana packets) and placing them in the “special” bin. Make these important steps in learning to recycle and talk about the various items that are suitable for recycling. Another great idea is to make a “recycled” projects—but more about that next time!

We set up a worm farm around a year ago—not because I need bait for fishing but because, like everyone, we have loads of food scraps, a garden that is sorely deprived of water, and a daughter who is intrigued with all things animal!

Where possible, our food scraps form the basis of dinner for these little beauties, Mia squeals with delight when we get out a worm and “play” with it in the garden, and our “liquid gold” worm wee has greatly improved the quality of our soil and plants. Worm farms can be purchased at Bunnings, and many other garden centers and are great fun to set up in any size backyard.

1 comment:

  1. This is pure gold, Jo. If we all started to raise our kids just a little bit more green and a little bit more caring, imagine the world we would soon have!

    My daughter (5) gets such a kick out of our chickens, she religiously lets them out and feeds them every morning, collects the eggs and puts them away at night. There's no chance we could ever forget!