Earlier this year my son and I did a lake shore cleanup with the scouts. I was excited not only to participate in this but excited that my son could participate in this cleanup. As we walked along the roads and the shores at Land Between the Lakes my son quickly realized the importance of not only what we are doing, but the importance of keeping our lands clean.
How can we help?
There are lots of ways to help and in almost every situation you can get your kids involved as long as they are old enough to walk a short distance. Even before they are able to walk short distances to help clean up here are some ways to help keep our our lands clean and get your kids involved.
Teach your kids about conservation
In our house we recycle. Our bins are right in the middle island so that everyone has easy access to use them. Any time my kids try to throw away a plastic bottle or an aluminum can I remind them to put them in the recycling bin.
When your children are smaller show them every time you recycle. Explain to them the importance of reducing your waste and why it helps the earth. Show them what kind of plastics you can recycle and which bin is the plastic bin. Then explain to them the importance of recycling cans and make sure they are aware of which bin they should go in. If you recycle cardboard/paper have them put their empty cereal boxes or toy boxes in the paper bin.
At bath time you can teach them about water conservation. Explain how to be a good citizen of the earth by using less water at bath time. Only fill the batch up half way and demonstrate how to get clean quickly and then they can save the rest to play in after they get washed up. While they are brushing their teeth have them turn the water off. Then they can turn it back on when they need to rinse.
Although you probably already do this, remind them every chance you can about energy conservation. Ask them to turn off lights when they leave a room or not leave a night light on all day when it isn’t needed. Explain the importance of conserving energy not only for the environment but also to help save money. No need to run up electric bills that are unnecessary.
Teaching your kids conservation by example
Earlier I spoke about the shore cleanup. This was a wonderful opportunity to teach my son about how to be active in keeping our lands clean. Our scout groups all met together and were dispatched into smaller groups to different areas around Land Between the Lakes. Since our scouts were younger we didn’t do to much along the shore and stuck to the roadways. It wasn’t long before we found our first piece of trash. An empty beer can. As we walked the road we explained to the kids why it was important to clean up this trash and even more so why it was crucial to not just throw your trash on the side of the road.
At the end of this cleanup all the scouts piled up the trash collected at one site so the scouts could see the total amount of their efforts. They could see the bags of trash and the piles of old tires and scrap metal that had been dumped. You could see how proud these kids were that they did their part in the cleanup.
You don’t need an organized cleanup necessarily to lead your kids. You can start in your own neighborhood and pick up the trash along the road and around your own block. We live on a fairly busy highway so walking along that road to pick up trash isn’t necessarily safe. But you can always go to a park and pick up trash in a small area to show your kids how to do their part. And remember if you pick up recyclables to put them in the proper bin.
If you don’t have recyclable bins in your house you can have an inexpensive project to build some bins with your kids. They can cut out some pictures of what type of items should go in each bin and tape it to the box. This way they can be reminded each time where the plastics go and where the cans go.
If you take your kids fishing you can always pick up trash and old fishing line laying around and dispose of them properly. It saddens me when I take my son fishing and we see soda bottles or old worm boxes littering the landscape. We always follow the scouting principles of leave no trace. And make sure the area we visit is cleaner than we found it.
Doing our part
Always be on the lookout to teach your kids how to keep our lands clean and be conservation minded. If you have a state or national park nearby, more than likely the rangers will host days to teach kids more about conservation. You can always sign your kids up for scouts and part of the requirements is learning about conservation and leave no trace. But we only have one earth and it seems there are more working against us littering the landscape instead of helping out and cleaning up after themselves. And even if you are on your own with no kids do your part and pick up the litter if you see some trash on the sidewalk. Be a good citizen and keep our lands clean.
Have any more advice on how to keep our lands clean and teach our kids conservation? Head over to our Facebook page and drop a comment.