When I give my preschooler something to throw away, he’s happy to help. As he walks away from me, I can see him look down to see what he’s got in his hand, and I can see him think about it. He then either walks to the kitchen and puts it in the trash can, or walks through the kitchen and sticks it in the recycling container in the laundry room.
It occurred to me the other day that this will always be his world. He will always consider whether something is trash, recyclable, or — if his mama can get her act together and set up a bin — something that can go in the compost pile. At three years old, he’s learning to be a good steward of the Earth. And he makes me proud.
Granted, my little one is only right about half the time. But it’s a start. And I don’t want to lose that momentum. I want to make it a priority in our home to show him the value of appreciating nature. Not to waste. Not to destroy. To conserve. To protect.
So where do we start? Here are a few things that you can begin to do in your home. Make them a priority at first; after a couple of weeks, they will simply become habit.
Don’t let the water run. While you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, washing the dishes or watering the plants, use water intentionally, not mindlessly. Try shorter showers and limit baths, unless you have little ones, of course.
Recycle. Really, there is no reason not to. Fort Worth has a great program that makes it easy, and cost-efficient, for us to sort through what we are throwing out. Know the rules, though. Did you know that aluminum foil is a no-no, but pizza boxes just made the approved list? Visit fortworthtexas.gov/solidwaste/recycling for details.
Unplug. Yes, it will take a few more minutes for your Keurig to heat up in the morning or for your computer to boot up, but unplugging and turning off your electronics at night adds up in savings — in watt-hours and electricity fees. Take it a step further. Initiate a family day each week, when you pledge not to use unnecessary electronics. Grill your dinner outside, play games, or walk to the park instead of watching TV and ignore nonemergency emails, texts, and tweets. Enjoy each other.
Use the tap. Buy a reusable water container for everyone in the family. CamelBak, Klean Kanteen, and Sigg make some cute bottles that the kids can use at school. I’ve seen them in stock at Backwoods and Climate. Then invest in a filter for your faucet or a filter pitcher for the fridge. It’s so much cheaper and smarter.
Eat local. Fort Worth offers many opportunities to purchase fresh food from local vendors. Consumer-supported agriculture (CSA) has been popular in this area for years. Try Jazbac Farm, Elizabeth Anna Farm and Garden Market, and Weatherford’s Cold Springs Farm , which sets up delivery in a neighborhood plot near the Cultural District, for fresh produce, meat, and dairy . . . and community.
Farmers markets like Cowtown Farmers Market and BRIT Farmers Market have been popular Saturday outings for a while. And when Burgundy Pasture Beef opens its storefront on 7th Street in the next few weeks, you’ll be able to purchase high-quality, grass-fed beef raised just south in Grandview.
Plant a tree. No really, it’s that simple.
I asked my friend and neighbor Haily Summerford, director of the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center in Cedar Hill, for advice on how to foster conservation in children. She says the most important thing is to get the kids out of the house. “Get them outside, whether it’s in your own backyard or at a nature center,” she said. “Children must make a connection with nature to want to preserve it.”
Good advice, and luckily Fort Worth has many places you can take your kids to enjoy the wonders of nature.
Some of my suggestions:
- Attend one of the Little Sprouts days at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.
- Visit the new Gigantabugs exhibit at the Fort Worth Zoo.
- Enroll your adventurous and curious child in Camp Brit this summer.
- Hike through the Eagle Mountain Park.
- Take the family canoeing at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge.
How are you teaching your children to take care of our environment?