Linda D. Dempsey's Blog
As you've gotten older, you have become successful at living an energy efficient lifestyle. You purchased a fairly green home and have developed good habits for living green. Now you have children who are reaching an age to start doing things on their own and contribute to household chores and upkeep. Awesome. Just remember that you’ll need to work with them to teach them the good habits you developed for yourself. You’ll need to demonstrate how to perform tasks without being wasteful and will want to monitor your kids as they take on new chores and responsibilities. Start with the basics and moving on from there, your children will soon be able to contribute to your home and develop positive habits for maintaining an eco-friendly and energy efficient lifestyle.
Here are some areas of responsibility where children are likely to misuse energy and some ideas for guiding them in the right direction from the start.
It is very easy for kids to overuse water. The most significant use comes from brushing their teeth and showering. It might seem to you like a no-brainer, but you'll need to show your children they don't need to run the faucet the whole time they're brushing their teeth. Teach them just to get their toothbrush wet and then complete brushing before they turn the tap back on to rinse. Long showers and overfilled baths are another way that children can unintentionally over-use water. Show them how to be efficient while showering. For example, by shampooing their hair first and then letting conditioner set while they wash their body to save time. To further assist simply use a timer to limit the length of their shower and help them become aware of time-wasting things they might be doing. For baths show them the level to which they should fill the tub and maybe mark the line with a decal so that they don't overfill the tub unnecessarily.
Dishes are another area of potential waste. If you have a dishwasher, the easiest thing to do is to get your kids in the habit of rinsing dishes immediately after using them and placing them directly in the washer. Plates and cups with dried food and sauces require more water to rinse before putting them in the dishwasher. If you're teaching children to wash dishes by hand, rinsing and washing immediately after use is still the best method. First, fill both sides of your sink with water and add dish soap to one side. Use one side to rinse all your dishes and the other for washing. Drain the rinse side and refill for a final rinse to remove soap before placing dishes in the drying rack.
Teaching your children good electricity management is easy in theory, but you will have to stay on top of their practices while they build good habits. The simplest way to start is by teaching them to turn off the lights every time they leave a room. This practice will quickly help you manage your family's electricity bill. As your kids begin to accumulate new technology, you'll want to make sure you're working with them to create the habit of turning off their gaming systems after use, turning off the television and DVD player when they’re done watching it and shutting down their laptops or family computer. Managing constant flows of electricity throughout your home is a good thing to teach your children and an effective way to live an energy efficient lifestyle.
Now that you have some ideas for how to get your kids positively contributing to your family’s water and electricity use its time to start thinking about food waste management. Read on to part two of this article for more ideas.