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Reinforcing the Three Rs

At an early age, all children learn about the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Elementary school teachers use these simple words to teach children to protect the environment. At home you can remind your children of the reasons behind the green behaviors you expect from them. For example, when your children leave the room and turn off the light, praise them for reducing their energy usage. Congratulate them for reusing resources when they drink from a refillable water bottle. And of course, keep reminding them of the importance of recycling paper, cardboard, glass, and many plastics!

Here are some ideas you can practice with your children:

Reduce:  Cut down on the number of disposable products your family uses by giving your children their own cutlery to bring with them for school lunches or fast-food restaurants. Have them practice saying “no forks, please” when you order food.

Reuse: Before going shopping for new clothes, check first with siblings, cousins or friends' children for hand-me-downs. Then have a fashion show to make these previously worn clothes special and their own! When you do go shopping, have your child get involved by decorating  reusable shopping bags with fabric markers. Then give their artwork a place of honor in your house – so they can remind you to take them and avoid using plastic bags!

Recycle: Look up your local recycling rules with your children. Then, once your kids know how recyclables need to be sorted, encourage them to volunteer in their classrooms to make sure that all of the recyclables go in the right containers.

Remember, the more enthusiastic you are about the Three R’s, the more excited your children will be to go green!

Kathleen Kellett, a writer with an M.A. in Children's Literature and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children, sees toys as a great medium through which children can hone their own storytelling skills.