If you are the parents of young children or even babies it seem as though being eco-friendly and recycling is the message really being pushed towards this next generation from a very young age. It is so important for them to see the bigger picture about saving the planet and helping to save endangered animals. On every major channel dedicated to the entertainment of young children there are specific programmes explaining the simple truths about saving animals such as Dora the Explorer’s cousin, Diego, who saves an animal who is endangered every episode. The children are encouraged to learn about the animal’s habitat and how their actions can help save energy to maintain the animal’s habitat.
The children are taught about conserving energy by switching lights off and how conserving water when brushing their teeth by turning off the tap will really help save the planet. They are even encouraged to grow their own vegetables, eat healthily, be active and recycle their waste. These messages have really been inspirational to children who are all about having a go at things and getting involved.
Then you look at their toys who are inspired by the programmes, and they are made from non recyclable materials in tonnes of packaging and need battery after battery. As a parent I wonder if the money spinning toy industry even have watched the programmes and realise they are not exactly getting the message.
If you are a parent who cares about the planet and is actively trying to encourage your children to save energy and water and know how important it is to recycle, then you must also find the sheer amount of waste from a birthday or Christmas celebration quite disturbing.
There are a few things you can do to help a celebration have an eco-friendly message too.
Wrapping paper and cards are really lovely but the toys surely come with packaging anyway why not simply place the toy in a paper decorative bag and then you can re-use the bag for another gift later. Ask your friends and family to do the same on the invite and it will save a black bag full of paper and wrapping that you cannot sometime recycle.
Making your own banner and decorations rather than using the plastic banners that cannot be re-used, or simply buying one to say happy birthday and using it several times rather than just once.
Using paper plates may seem a better idea for recycling but if food has spoilt the paper then it cannot be recycled, so investing in a plastic set you can wash and reuse would actually be better for the environment. Better still get a picnic set in and you will be able to use it for small celebrations and any picnics that you go on in the future.
Party games can also be environmentally friendly or themed, taking the kids on a Diego or Dora adventure to look at the bugs in your garden or somewhere like a park to explore wildlife, can give your child a deeper understanding about the natural world and how we need to protect it. Have a tick list and give a prize for the winner who finds all of the items in the garden.
Using the internet you can source many eco friendly gift ideas from places like Fair Trade and Well Cultivated who sell items that have less impact on the environment and help the local people involved in their manufacture of the items get a fair price too.
The only way the children will really get the message about being more eco-friendly is if their parents or family also keep in mind their carbon footprint and effect on the planet. Children will learn from your actions so give them the gift of being actively good for the planet.
David is committed to using environmentally friendly products. Selling a range of bamboo fabrics as well as bamboo nappies and hooded dressing gowns, David currently works for Well Cultivated in the UK.