Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
Sustainability and eco-friendly living are concepts that my family has been making a conscious effort to delve into. As stewards of the earth, it is important that we leave the earth better than we found it by limiting our impact on the environment. Below are a few ideas of things that have been working for us in this initiative, and I also encourage you to check out the video for art specific fun as well:
- Chalk board/white board: Drawing is an essential aspect of unleashing creativity, yet so many projects are simply discarded into the recycling bin after completing them. While we can use both sides of the paper, an alternative that we love is the chalk board and white board. Each provides a different texture, similar to what crayons, color pencils, and markers do on paper. Chalk and white boards allow children to draw and create infinitely, wipe away, and start again!
- Painting on glass or rocks: Instead of using paper for our painting activities, we have been using large rocks that can be placed back in nature. Rocks can be painted with actual paint or more simply with water, which allows for the motion of painting, without the added color. We also invested in a plexiglass cover for the children’s art table, where they can use the plexiglass as a canvas. Once painting is complete, simply wash off the plexiglass and start again!
- Cutting and hole-punching leaves: Using scissors and a hole-punch help children to develop fine motor skills. In place of paper, we have been using leaves to meet this need. After the cutting and hole-punching is finished, we simply return the scraps to nature!
- Use cardboard: So many of the products and foods that we purchase come in cardboard. We have been utilizing this as our main paper source to draw and paint on, if we want to keep an art project. Cardboard and other recyclable materials are also great for making DIY toys and learning materials, as well as fun storage options.
- Save washing with smocks for eating: I save myself from a ton of laundry each week by having my children wear a full smock during meal times. Bibs don’t cover the whole of an outfit, leaving room for food to fall and stain the lower part of shirts and pants. Using smocks has cut back on the need to wash every clothing item worn each week, which helps the environment with less water consumption.
- Plants galore and open windows: Decorating our home with plants serves a multitude of purposes: adds beauty, cleanses the air, and teaches the children how to care for the environment/nature both inside and outside. Similarly, opening the windows helps to air out the home and keep circulation flowing, creating a healthier, indoor environment.
- Natural sunlight: We make use of as much sunlight as we can. This includes opening the blinds, but also getting outside daily. Connecting with nature is an easy opportunity to introduce eco-friendly living to our children. It also eliminates the need for using things like: air conditioning, heat, water, and electricity for a portion of the day whilst out.
- Timed water consumption for showers and baths: Baths are an easy way to control of the amount of water used in cleansing one’s body. Similarly, timing one’s showers can make a big impact on reducing over use of water and potential wastage. On a similar note, creating a basin for collecting rain water is a great way to reuse it for watering plants.
- Reuse grocery containers for storage: As previously mentioned, some of the packaging that our food and other products come in can be reused as storage. The plastic containers that fruit come in are great, because you can close them, they are see through, and stackable!
- Limit your dishware: At the moment, my children have two sets of dishware that I wash between meals. We love this, because it helps keep the environment clean and neat, but also cuts back on using a ton of dish wash on large amounts of dishes.
- Cloth wipes: We use cloth wipes to clean the toddler during diaper changes, except for poop and when we’re out. This has cut down on our need for wipes and provides an eco-friendly alternative.
- Bamboo toothbrushes: Plastic toothbrushes take years to degrade and have negative impacts on the environment. Using a bamboo alternative is preferred, because the the wood is a natural material and therefore, better for the environment.
I hope this was helpful in getting you started on some eco-friendly home living and art that can be done with children! Share your ideas with me as well on how you integrate eco-friendly practices into your home, particularly with young children =)