Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Teach Our Children Well

By Archive, April 9, 2007  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Archive
Sharing our love for the planet with kids is one of the smartest steps we can take to ensure sustainability. Laura wrote in to share what she is doing with her young son to teach him about reusing everyday items: “We use egg cartons for painting, coffee cans and cottage cheese containers to store his toy cars and markers/crayons; he has painted many beautiful pieces of artwork on brown paper bags and the backside of gift registries; Daddy’s old shirt is the perfect art smock; and what little boy doesn’t like a big old box???? Jake is currently learning all about composting. Again tons of fun for a little boy: Throwing leaves, grass, newspapers, and kitchen scraps into an outdoor bin. ‘Slam dunk!!’ in Jake’s own words.” It’s great to teach kids of all ages about ways we can conserve our resources. I chanced upon The Great Water Odyssey (put together by the St. Johns River Water Management District in Florida) the other day when looking for some online math games for my nine year old. She had lots of fun playing and loves telling me about the water conservation tips she learned in the concentration game. What other ways do you teach your kids about conserving and taking care of the planet? What environmental learning websites do your kids enjoy? I look forward to checking out your favorites.
Category: Green Action




Micaela FIscher says ...
While I don’t have any children myself, I’m often faced with buying gifts for small children of my friends and in my family. I’m always trying to spread the environmental word and I’ve yet to find a better way to do so to children than by making sure that they all have a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” Thirty years after its initial publication later, there is still very little in America that gets the point of environmental conservation across to children so precisely and poignantly as the phrase “I speak for the trees”
04/11/2007 1:28:31 PM CDT
Shelly Chisholm says ...
Each year on Earth Day, my children and I, accompanied by our neighbors, walk around the neighborhood and pick up all the litter we can find. It's amazing how much trash we end up collecting! It's a great way to teach the kids to respect the earth and they feel good knowing that they have done something positive!
04/19/2007 6:33:55 AM CDT
Sandy Hilker says ...
It seems EVERY day my 2 kids bring home numerous papers from school (communications from the school, homework papers for parental review, fundraising info, etc.). We take those papers that have blank backs and put them in a drawer for our use. I also do this with mail. The kids use them for artwork and writing notes. I use them as notepaper or to print recipes, info from the internet, whatever. The only caution is make sure the back of the item doesn't contain personal financial info, etc., in case you pass along the newly printed info to someone else.
04/19/2007 7:51:55 AM CDT
nancy harris says ...
I have worms! In my garage and in my compost bin in my yard. A few years ago, I got interested in worms after reading the book "Worms Eat My Garbage". I bought a large plastic storage bin with a lid, and ordered Red Wigglers online. A few days later, I was in business! My grandkids loved "feeding " the worms banana peels and other scraps and then "feeding" our plants with the worm compost. My grandson has a prize winning cabbage growning now and he will taste it as he grew it. What a wonderful way to teach our kids and grandkids about where our food really comes from and to recycle our garbage.
04/19/2007 8:13:11 AM CDT
Mary Janicki says ...
Every few months my husband cleans out his t-shirt drawer and brings the old white t-shirts down to the kids. Together they make their "own" t-shirts using old poster or art paint, glue, buttons, saved yarn from old projects. They have gotten many compliments on these shirts which they have worn. Over time they have become quite creative and come up with some excellent ideas. It's a great way to spend an afternoon with dad and mom and get some art and creativity in as well.
04/19/2007 12:05:33 PM CDT
Germaine Schaefer says ...
I'm trying to teach my two children, 2 & 5, to be good stewards of the earth. As such, we recycle cans, plastic bottles/jars, newspaper & cardboard via the city. In addition, all vegetable scraps go into a compost bin in the yard for "recycling". We also save all our plastic supermarket bags. These are either: recycled at the market, taken to daycare for use, or used at home for trash bags. Both of them already know not to run the water when brushing their teeth. This year we will be getting a rain barrel so that we can recycle rainwater to use in our garden. We have a vegetable garden that is pesticide/fertilizer free. I'm teaching them about planting compatible plants to fight pests/attract "good" bugs. We try to get out in the morning to dispose of slugs and caterpillars by hand, and we use our home-made compost to ammend the soil. Lastly, we pick-up trash from our block and neighborhood park on a weekly basis. This has really helped them understand how terrible littering is (and smoking!).
04/19/2007 12:10:35 PM CDT
Jamie Casolari says ...
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle an enviromental slogan everyone is familiar with. My kids and I try to take this idea as far as possible by incorporating "found" treasures into our home and yard. Old canning jars found in the barn become storage for our dried beans and nuts. Old buckets, watering cans, wheelbarrows and washtubs become planters for our herbs, spinach, greens and nasturtiums. Decorative, yet functional. Coffee grounds and egg shells become natural fertilizers for the lavender, hydrangeas and rhododendrons. An old workbench is topped with a scrap miscut piece of granite countertop to become our new kitchen island. A 1940 stove becomes our new stove.Reclaimed lumber becomes our backsplash, makes our dining room table and shelving for our kitchen. Interesting old kitchen items and signs become our artwork on the walls. Country auctions and garage sales become a day of entertainment and a game of what if... By making old everyday items into something new and different we are repurposing many items that would otherwise become landfill garbage. Everything in our home and yard has a story and a history, much more interesting than saying I got this at the mall! As a result of learning to think in this way my children are praised by their teachers for being creative thinkers and interesting participants in classroom discussions. They have learned to think for themselves and have become leaders instead of followers.
04/19/2007 12:24:04 PM CDT
Katrina Lacovara says ...
In order to teach my kids (ages 8, 6 and 2) to reuse, I have them help me bring bags back to Whole Foods to reuse. The 5 cent rebate we get for each bag, they get to keep, which they think is great!
04/19/2007 1:34:47 PM CDT
Antonia Strasser says ...
Just a comment about using egg cartons. In working with children at a state-funded daycare, we were warned of the possible dangers of using cardboard egg cartons. They may contain salmonella virus. For safety measures, we washed and bleached the foam containers for craft use rather than the cardboard variety.
04/19/2007 10:25:30 PM CDT
Natalie says ...
For Earth Day, why not gather the family together and purchase a tree that you can plant? You can give your kids a simple explanation for global warming and let them know how trees play an important part in the process. The tree planting ceremony would also allow them to realize how ONE can make a difference. Alternatively, you can get free trees through LA city council (with a fair bit of work involved): http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp000744.jsp
04/20/2007 12:51:01 PM CDT
Natalie Carter says ...
For Earth Day, why not purchase a tree and plant it together as a family in you garden? You can give your children a simple explanation for global warming and let them know the important role that trees play in the process and, how ONE can make a difference. Alternatively, you can get free trees from LA city council: http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp000744.jsp If you don't have a garden--try finding an organization online that will plant a tree on your behalf. For a greener planet!
04/20/2007 12:59:32 PM CDT
Peggy Ayres says ...
My six children learned about reduce, reuse and recycle long before they learned their ABC's. They amaze me with some of the creative ways they come up with to reuse items that so many of their friend's families view as trash. So many times they have come home and said, "Mom, you'll never believe what so and so's mother is throwing out". We have made quilts out of old flannel pajamas (they are so soft and warm), wind chimes out of old keyes that no ones knows what they go to, and purses out of old jeans. Even old bits and pieces of broken crayons get melted in the microwave and cooled in old muffin tins (found at the curb) and made into multicolored "cookie crayons". Broken dishes get saved and used for creating stepping stones - pizza boxes are a great mold for this use.
04/20/2007 1:35:35 PM CDT
Elaine McCracken says ...
As our washrags and dishtowels wear out, I keep them in a small cabinet above our broom closet. We use those to wipe up most spills, dry our hands, and do other chores for which we used to use paper towels. Paper towels are used only for wiping up grease or pet "problems." When the rags are too wet to use again, we put them in a small basket under the sink and wash them with the laundry. By doing this we have had to buy only one roll of paper towel every month to 6 weeks. I also cut old t-shirts (that are ragged and cannot be taken to a charity store) under the armpits, then cut the resulting "tube" of fabric into two pieces. We keep those with the old washrags and they're wonderful, soft, and a bit larger wipes.
04/21/2007 4:10:09 AM CDT
Kim Hamilton says ...
I think a fun way to encourage recycling is too make a game out of it. For instance, if the city or a big corporation like Whole Foods sponsered a game where kids of all ages were to see how many containers they could recycle in a certain time in the right containers, and kids could win prizes, I think it would a positive experience all around. First, you could have the community bring cans, glass, and plastic bottles to a certain drop off point about two months before the event. Then, make three, appropriate size containers with appropriate size opening for deposit. Then invite all the kids in the community and arrange the competition by age group. And then finally, get businesses around the community to donate prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and "everybody wins prizes". So, on Earth day, each kid have three minutes to recycle as many articles as fast as possible in the right container. The most correct deposits wins. I think it would be a lot of fun, personally, having the feel of supermarket sweeps. In fact, a child/parent competition would be fun too. I bet by the second year people would have developed strategies on how best to win, which would mean they have been thinking about recycling subconsciously for the rest of the year.
04/21/2007 7:58:44 AM CDT
Meg says ...
I try to buy from the bulk aisle to avoid packaging. I use the plastic containers for my nuts & grains. When they are empty, I wash them and bring them back to refill. It usually saves me time because I don't have to write the number of the bin again since the sticker stays on the top. I also try to reuse the plastic produce bags a few times and bring back my grocery bags over & over. My kids (8 & 11) use cloth napkins, carry a no-trash lunch with reusable containers and Sigg waterbottles, bring back their fruit cores/peels to feed the worms and are great about turning off lights when they leave the room. We carpool as much as possible to school & activities.
04/24/2007 1:21:43 AM CDT
Nancy Catania says ...
As our family's contribution to keeping the earth a better place for generations to come, we recycle ALL of our cardboard boxes coming from food or other items, i.e. cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, anything that comes in a box. We also recycle any paper containers from anything, as long as they are all paper - like cookie bags. We also reuse the plastic bags from the supermarkets for our cat litter scooping purposes, as that uses a new bag every day. We always reuse the plastic bags that our daily newspaper comes in - for lunch bags every day, as well as reuse our ziploc freezer bags over again, marking them for the specific uses, as you don't want to reuse a bag used for freezing meat to freeze something other than that purpose. Supermarket paper bags are either reused or recycled, as well, for wrapping packages for mailing or for general household uses. We don't have alot of trash because of the things we recycle, so less in the landfills and better for the earth! We shop at Whole Foods in Princeton, New Jersey.
05/03/2007 7:44:21 AM CDT
Sun Enge says ...
My 10 yr old son has become quite the label reader, if something he wants to buy has any of the 'bad' ingredients, like high fructose corn syryp or not organic, he'll put it back, saying "That no good Mom,we've got to find one that doesn't have the bad stuff!" He also is in charge of the compost bucket, the recycling and the trash, and helps in the garden. (Snail eradication is one of his garden duties, he "teaches them to fly" as he wings them out of the garden.) Once he learned where ketchup comes from, he goes out every day and checks the progress of "his" tomatoes. He also shreds his papers from school, and brings home his recycle-able trash from his lunch, even tho the other kids tease him about not throwing his aluminum can away. If we don't teach the children, then how else can they know and teach their children??
05/04/2007 5:02:18 AM CDT
Jampa Williams says ...
I am vegan. There is no single choice you can make that will have a greater "green" impact. I enjoy learning green strategies from others, and I am always grateful for what I learn and can implement. But I consider being a vegan to be the foundation for all of our other environmental approaches. I'd heartily recommend reading: "Reclaiming Our Health" and "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins, and "Mad Cowboy" by Howard Lyman, for a start.
08/29/2007 8:39:31 AM CDT
Jenny Pommer says ...
Try reusing your spent dryer sheets as glass and mirror cleaners. They work great! I use them on eye- and sunglasses; they are also easy to carry in the glass case and they can be reused multiple times. On mirrors, they clean the smudges and haziness with any liquid cleaner.
08/30/2007 12:34:38 PM CDT
Marilyn J. Brackney says ...
I've been encouraging children to reuse and recycle materials to make art for more than thirty-five years. Although many adults are finally getting into the habit of recycling, I think kids are the ones who will make a difference in helping to save natural resources and landfill space. About ten years ago, I decided to launch a Web site that teaches children how to creatively reuse and recycle materials to make art and crafts. Some of the activities include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, papier-mâché, and marbling. A Trash Matcher helps visitors find appropriate art activities for the solid waste they have available, and a feature called the Badge Matcher allows Brownies, Girl Scouts and their leaders to quickly locate art activities that help satisfy badge requirements. Trashasaurus Rex, a giant dinosaur made of solid waste, heads the site's Public Relations Department, and there are numerous links to other art and environmental sites in the Research and Development Department. I hope you'll visit The Imagination Facory, and if you have suggestions of additional types of solid waste you'd like to see reused, please contact me and I'll create something.
09/08/2007 9:25:06 AM CDT
KateBla says ...
I was truly amazed at the number and content of all the postings here. Everyone has such great ideas and I've learned a lot. It's also good to know that I'm not the only person who brings home from the beach (or anywhere else that I have lunch outside of home) banana peels and orange skins for the compost bin. Just today, I told my six-year-old son to bring back home from school the aluminum foil his pizza slice was wrapped in. Thank you everyone for sharing ideas. It's hard to add anything new, other than a thought maybe that we should also encourage recycling in public places. I volunteer at the babysitting room of my gym. Kids use a lot of paper for coloring and it was so easy to put a carton box marked RECYCLING out for whatever they didn't want to take home with them. Places like that also go through a lot of toilet paper so we collect the rools for projects.
11/10/2008 9:40:52 AM CST