My eight-and-a-half-year-old son: "Mum, I'd like to build a natural frog pond to encourage rare species of frogs into the garden. I also want to get chickens so we can eat their eggs. And maybe a goat for milk."
Me, looking around our relatively modest garden: "Well we could probably do the pond…"
As a family, we have a great enthusiasm for all things sustainable and environmentally friendly.
My son, a young environmentalist in the making, usually has a number of recycling projects on the go at any one time. He has some amazing ideas about how wind power should replace coal mining and why solar is the way of the future.
My daughters are right into the veggie patch and help me with all things composting. I personally have never met a beeswax wrap I didn’t like and am incapable of popping into town without visiting our local co-op.
We are also a busy family of five, and while we are keen on integrating sustainable practices in our home, it’s not always easy (or time friendly).
Finding simple ways that our family can work towards a happier, healthier planet - without it giving me a nervous breakdown - has become our jam. These are four of our favourites.
1. Have a daily recycling system.
The bigger your family gets, the harder it becomes to stay on top of recycling. While we eat a lot of food made from scratch, and buy ingredients in bulk where we can, we still end up with a bunch of stuff destined for the recycling bin.
Now that my kids are old enough to understand how recycling works, they have become involved in the process. My son is responsible for all bottles and cans as he is right into Return and Earn, and has a special tub for everything he collects (more on that in point number 2).
My daughters are in charge of plastics that can be put into the recycling bin while I collect all soft plastics to be returned to our local supermarket. We also have a small compost bin under the sink in the kitchen which the kids can easily access to dump their fruit and veggie scraps each day. They then take it in turn each week to collect the compost ‘juice’ which is then diluted and used on our veggie patch and other plants.
2. Find programs that make it fun (and financially rewarding).
While I feel that this generation of kids is more tuned into the environment and the wider world than many before them, they are still kids with waxing and waning interests and busy brains going a million miles an hour. Finding programs that help them to learn about sustainability and the environment in a fun and engaging way can be hugely helpful in building long-term understanding.
We have been taking part in Return and Earn for the last year and it’s been a fantastic way for the kids (my son in particular) to learn about the impact that recycling can have on the wider community, while also earning some pocket money. My son collects bottles and cans from us, our neighbours and his grandparents, then takes them to our local collection point every month. You get 10 cents for each drink container that you deposit at one of their return points (they even have local maps so you can easily locate one of the 600+ collection points around NSW).