As a mother and environmental professional, it’s often hard to find a middle ground when communicating the importance of environmental responsibility to my kids. Children are naturally curious creatures, so a simple “turn off the light” request is very often met with “but WHY Mom?” I usually fall back to the overused “because I told you to” but what I really want to say is “because leaving lights when you don’t need them wastes energy and money.” But of course that is then met with “what is energy?” When that explanation begins, eyes glaze over and my daughter has completely lost interest, forgotten why she wanted to know about energy, and the light is still on.
I have to remind myself to keep things simple. Very simple.
I was struck by this struggle this morning when my daughter got ready for camp and put on her “It’s Good to Be Green” shirt. She is just learning to read and read the phrase over and over again. It then spurred a discussion between her and her two sisters. They started discussing being green in terms of riding bikes, planting flowers, picking up trash, and using the recycling bin (note the absence of any discussion of turning off lights!). They may not yet know the science behind it, but they certainly have placed some value in “green” and have positive attitudes about it. And that is something I am quite proud of and want to continue to encourage.
Truly, something as simple as a t-shirt with a positive message about the environment in “kid-friendly” terms was all it took to bring the environment to the front of three kids minds today. Maybe what I ought to say next time my kids question my request to “turn off the light” is “because it’s another way to be GREEN!”
By: Sarah O’Connell