Sporadic changes in the weather, annual haze and the appalling fact that Singapore is experiencing global warming at twice the rate of the global average has resulted in greater national awareness on global warming. But it shouldn’t have to take another flash flood for us to come to our senses and incorporate eco-friendly routines into our daily lives. After all, this is the environment our kids will be growing up in and we shiver at the thought of them having to experience erratic weather fluctuations and flash floods on the daily. So get your family involved in the effort to save Mother Earth by following these simple steps!
Save Water and Electricity
We’re no strangers to this basic eco-friendly rule but often times, kids don’t see the need to switch off the lights before leaving the room or turn off the tap after brushing their teeth. So sit them down and explain to them how leaving the lights on causes the power stations to emit more carbon dioxide and leaving the water running wastes our finite resources. Highlight the long-term effects of these situations in a way that relates to them and is easy to understand (eg. “The temperature will rise and not only will the weather be very hot, ice in the polar regions will melt, leaving the polar bears and penguins homeless” and “If we are short on water, you will be very thirsty and won’t even be able to water the plants and flowers. Firefighters won’t be able to put out any fires too!”).
If you realise your kids are fond of leaving the lights on and the tap running, constantly remind them to rectify the matter. You may also choose to implement a reward system to motivate the little eco-warriors!
You may also choose to make things more accessible for your child by placing a stool below frequently used light switches and in front of the sink, especially if your child is younger and struggles to reach the switches and taps.
Use Reusable Bags
Set a good example and encourage your kids to use tote bags whenever possible. Reusable bags aren’t only for carrying groceries, but for carrying everything and anything the family buys as well (eg. clothes, toys etc). Tote bags come in many stylish designs nowadays and the younger ones will love the trendy DIY canvas bags. So invest in a few tote bags and get to shopping! (Tip: If you forget to bring your reusable bag out, opt for paper rather than plastic bags. Paper bags are more environmentally-friendly because they can biodegrade in a matter of weeks unlike plastic bags!)
Get your little eco-warriors to carry the tupperware containers or tingkat whenever the family goes to the nearby coffee shop to buy takeaway food. This cultivates a sense of social responsibility in the little ones, encouraging them to do their part in saving the earth!
Buy a reusable water bottle for your kids to bring to school everyday so that they do not have to buy multiple bottles of water from the canteen.
Encourage your eco-warriors to ask if the fast food chain or drink store could fill up their water bottles instead of using the in-house plastic or paper cups (You can do this at stores like Starbucks and Gong Cha!).
If the kids frequently drink their canned drinks with straws, you may want to look into investing in reusable bamboo or metal straws.
Help your child develop the good habit of finishing their meals to prevent excessive food wastage. While most Singaporean parents use the “this will be your future partner’s face” superstition to scare their kids into inhaling the leftover food, try explaining to them that most kids aren’t fortunate enough to have three meals a day.
Instead of putting them down for the pile of leftover food on their plate, remind them to ask for a smaller portion the next time they eat and remind them again (eg. “are you sure you can finish that by yourself?” or “do you need a smaller portion?”) when you are buying their next meal.
Cultivate the habit of eating more vegetables instead of meat. Meat-lovers, do not fear, this does not necessarily mean that your whole family has to become vegetarians. All you have to do is make the conscious effort to eat less meat whenever possible. Explain how the mass production of meat causes a massive loss of global biodiversity to the little eco-warriors so that they can also make more informed choices in the future!
Get creative with the little ones by letting them design labels for four different trash bins. Having four different trash bins artistically labelled ‘paper’, ‘plastic’, ‘metal’ and ‘general’ in the house will cultivate the habit of recycling and motivate the little ones to go green!
Sharing is Caring
Get the little eco-warriors involved in spring cleaning and let them know that you’ll only buy them new clothes and toys when they’ve put aside some of their old ones for donation.
Bring your little eco-warriors along for your weekly trip to the supermarket! Reduce potential waste by taking a picture of your fridge before heading to the supermarket so that you know what you have and can buy only what you need, preventing potential food wastage. Get the little ones to help you by giving them the responsibility of referring to the picture and reminding you if you already have the item in your fridge. You can prompt them with questions like “do we need this?” or “do we have this?”
Additionally, set a good example for your kids and try to buy items with less packaging whenever possible (eg. go for the 1.5 litres bottles of sweet drinks instead of multiple individually packed drinks).
Avoid Producing HFCs
While it’s often hot and humid in sunny Singapore, it’s important that we avoid an excessive use of air conditioning. Besides the excessive emission of carbon dioxide by the power stations, air conditioning systems also use powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.
Take public transport whenever you’re going out for fun family outings and events! Vehicles emit powerful greenhouse gases including the harmful HFCs as well.
Encourage your child to use both sides of the paper for drawing to avoid wasting paper.
Invest in a printer that can print double-sided documents for printing your child’s online school work, supplementary test papers and more! While the double-sided printer is more costly, it saves paper, and in turn, trees that provide clean and fresh air for us!
Organise Eco-Friendly Family Activities
Take your eco-warriors to farms like the Aero-Green Aeroponics Farm and get them interested in sustainable living. Also, do your part on Earth Day and/or bring your kids to eco-friendly events such as EarthFest.
Watch kid-friendly movies that highlight the importance of green living, like Avatar, on ‘movie nights’, and grow plants and vegetables at home with the little ones. Who knows, they may have a green thumb!
While these may seem like a rather rudimentary steps towards saving the earth, such small steps play a big role in saving not only our homes, but also the homes of sea creatures and other animals. So set a good example and cultivate these eco-friendly habits in your kids today!