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Teaching your children to be environmentally aware

Caring for the environment, and tending G-d’s creation, the Earth, is a core value in Judaism. How do we instill in our little ones the practices that will help them live Green as they grow?

Here are a few examples:

  • Get your children to recycle, early: Place simple recycle bins in your childrens’ rooms. A box on the floor can be used to recycle paper. For recycle bins in family friendly locations, such as the kitchen, have children decorate the bins as they like and put a picture of what gets recycled on each bin.
  • Take a family hike: Weather permitting, incorporate taking a family hike to a nearby park or nature trail on a regular basis. There is nothing like being in nature to give your children an appreciation for the world around them.
  • Have a periodic “power down” day: If you traditionally observe Shabbat, you already are taking one day each week in which electronic devices are turned off. Even if you are not Shomer Shabbas, pick a weekend day at least once a month when everyone in the family turns off computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. It’s a great way to slow down, save energy, and reconnect with other members of your family by playing games, telling stories, and taking walks. Introducing your children to this idea will help them see that they can have fun while reducing their energy consumption.
  • Turn trash items into creative objects: Give your children empty gift boxes, toilet paper rolls, greeting cards you have received and similar items and let them get creative. These items can be repurposed into toy forts, board games, and other playthings. This is a great lesson in how to reuse things rather than to throw them into landfills.
  • Read environmentally themed books to your kids: A few of the better known titles include Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” and “Hoot” by Carl Hiaasen. There also are many children’s books focused on recycling, such as “Recycling,” by Gail Gibbons and “Where does the Garbage Go?” by Randy Chewning.

Doing the simple things listed above will give your children an invaluable gift. It will teach them to respect the natural world around them and to reduce the amount of waste on the planet.

Resources: Earth 911

This blog originally appeared in www.jewishinsaintlouis.org

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Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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