This post is in partnership with IKEA, all opinions are my own.
I believe most parents want their kids to inherit a cleaner, greener world. As an adult I try to live a greener life, and I want to be an example to my kids as well.
Today, there are so many opportunities for kids and adults to live sustainably, many of which are things our grandparents probably did without thinking. As a society we’ve been accustom to convenience, but sometimes that means more waste and it isn’t always best for the world we live in.
I find that the easiest way to get my children involved is to make greener choices the most convenient option in our home.
IKEA has some great inexpensive items you can use in your home to help your children learn how to live a more sustainable life. In fact some of these items are so popular you probably already have them in your house.
Use less paper products in the kitchen.
If you know me, you know I love my paper towels, but I also try to use dish cloths and rags whenever possible.
To make this happen I have a drawer of dish towels in my kitchen. We use them for drying dishes and hands and cleaning up spills.
We use two to three towels a day and I throw them into whatever load is in the wash at the end of the day.
Every few months the dish towels get moved to the rag bin and we replace them with fresh towels. Not only are we creating less waste, we are saving money by not using a roll of paper towels every single day.
Having the towels close to the sink and easily accessible encourages my kids to grab a cloth towel instead of a paper towel when they need it.
Smaller bowls = less food waste.
Most of my children have eyes bigger than their stomachs and tend to take huge helpings if I’m not watching. Usually they can’t finish their food because they filled their grown-up sized plate with a grown-up sized portion.
Kids can’t help but take smaller servings on these kid sized dishes and if they are still hungry they are always welcome to get seconds, or even thirds.
Ever since I started using smaller dishes for the kids we throw away significantly less food every week.
I also use these plates and bowls for myself! They are great when you want to track how much you are eating and make sure your portions stay in check.
Reusing bath and pool towels to save water and money.
With six kids at home, we do a lot of laundry. One way to live a little greener is to encourage the kids hang up their towels after their showers instead of getting a new one every time. (There are even hotel chains who are rewarding guests with extra points for doing the same thing!)
However, it can be hard for younger children to reach the towel bar in most bathrooms.
We install a lower towel rack in our bathrooms so the kids can easily hang up their towels after they swim or take a shower. If the towel is hung up immediately after they use it, it can be used for several days without smelling gross.
When we rented our house we used the over the door towel racks so the kids always had a place to hang their towel. We also use them for pool towels and guest towels. This rack from IKEA has pads on the hanger so you don’t damage your doors when you use it.
Make it easy to recycle.
We have two recycle bins outside, but I don’t always want my younger children going out at night by themselves to throw something in the bin.
Keeping a small bin inside the house encourages kids of all ages to recycle and makes it easy for them to put boxes and cans in the bin throughout the day.
A small lightweight container like the IKEA DIMPA fits anywhere in your home and has handles so it is easy to carry out to the recycling bin several times a week. It folds up when not in use so you can put it away if necessary.
I’ve come to realize that if I make it easy for my kids to do something, there’s a significantly greater chance that it will get done when I’m not around to remind them to do it.
Encourage outside free play.
One of the best things we’ve done as a family is live close to green spaces (or have a large yard for the kids to play). Our kids love being outside, and finding fun activities that don’t require a ton of resources or electricity.
Not only does outside free play give them the opportunity to appreciate the world around them (and hopefully help keep it cleaner) it limits their screen time.
I hope as they grow older they will continue to appreciate the environment around them and be good stewards of their resources.