My children are not so different from any other across the country. They like out door sports, they like shows on television, they have a Wii. Just like adults they like to see some tangible reward for their efforts. When we began to go green as a family it was hard to convince the kids that it was worth it. While they don't understand any impact our lifestyle has to a global community, they do understand the concept of money. We knew as parents that if we wanted to make big changes there must be some goal to work towards, and a prize for reaching that goal.
Green Living in The Outdoors
We are good stewards of the land. Our family enjoys several camping, rafting and hiking trips a year. The children know that trash doesn't belong in animal habitats and when they see it they pick it up. The same goes for our community. When we are out on evening walks we make sure to pick up after ourselves and others. Through this experiment we were able to teach the children the importance of recycling. In their own way they know that, if everyone recycles, there will be more coloring pages to color. They also know that if you collect enough aluminum cans, you can take a family of 8 to Six Flags for the weekend.
Green Living and Energy Use
We are conscious of energy usage. When the children leave a room everything is turned off. This habit was a little harder to implement. Kid's can be forgetful. We broke our monthly energy spending down so they could see exactly where every energy dollar was going. Using the average monthly bill total we started a savings plan. When we started this years ago our average monthly electric bill was $295.00. We are diligent about lowering this figure. Every dollar saved goes in a family trust to be used for family fun. The children get to vote on how this money is used. Often it is used for ice cream, or movie night's in. In February of 2008 the children voted to go on a winter vacation. As a family (15 in total) we traveled to Branson, Missouri for the weekend. The reward system really does work.
Green Living Healthy Eating
We grow a garden every year. We have containers for herbs, hanging planters for tomatoes and strawberries, and plant a row of corn on the side of our home. Children love to see something sprout from a seed. Each child in our home draws a plant from a hat. They are responsible for that plant from seedling to harvest. The kids are proud of themselves when they bring in the fresh produce they have grown. We live in town so space is limited, however, we are able to grow a variety of food. Over the years we have added apple and mulberry trees, blackberry, and raspberry vines, and grapes, in addition to the vegetables we grow.
Green Living Water Catchment
Our children learned early on in gardening, the importance of rain. They understand that water is a gift not a right, and that when rain doesn't fall crops die. They are much more in-tune to our natural resources and they do not waste water. We collect rain water to water the plants, and grey-water (from the bathtub) to flush the toilets. It amazes me how many gallons of fresh water are wasted every month just from flushing the toilet. It may surprise you to know that in other countries it is illegal to use fresh water for flushing. If everyone in our home flushed the toilet only one time a day we would waste 1,440 gallons of water a month. We use city utilities but practicing water conservation prepares us for off grid living which is our goal.
Green Living Recycling
We reuse everything in our home. Glass jars that originally held sauces from the grocery store are reused for drinking. Plastic containers that originally held butter, potato salad, or a variety of food -stuffs are used to store leftovers. Coffee containers now hold sugar, spices, flour, and cornmeal. If you eat a meal, at our home, you can be sure your taking leftovers that would seem to be made by Country Crock. Clothing, bedding and towels also meet the same fate when they have lost usefulness. Much of the products remade you can see right here on Info Barrel.
Green Living Simply
We live a simple life. We have shaved expenses down so far that friends and family laugh at us. Much of what we do seems odd to people that don't understand our reasons. We simply don't see a need to waste anything. The reward for living this way is also simple. Because we conserve, we have more in reserve. We can take trips, spend time as a family, and have freedom to do as much as we choose. My husband does not worry about how we will make ends meet. Raising six children is not the hardship many would believe that only have two. We do not owe debt, we don't have credit cards, everything is bought with cash. We own out-right this home, our cars, and the few toys stored in the garage. All of this is possible because of our diligence.
To people that do not know us it may seem that we do not have much. My glasses don't match, but they hold drinks just fine. Tupperware would be appalled by the containers I use to give as gifts. Who cares? Five years ago we chose to make a change, and we are happy we did.