Guest Post: Helping My Kids Heed the Ways of the Great Suzuke

David Suzuki by environmentnorth via Flickr (CC)

Remember those David Suzuki “You Have the Power” campaign ads featuring a group of kids sitting around in a circle complaining to the Great Suzuke himself (that’s what I call him; he’s kind of my idol) about their folks’ non eco-friendly ways? (Something along the lines of, Child: “David, my parents don’t even use fluorescent lights.” Suzuke: Gasp.)

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m raising kids who are going to be exactly like the kids in that commercial. (Ooh, maybe one day I’ll open the tree house door and the Great Suzuke will be sitting there, chatting!)  Either way, it’s fine with me. They can lecture me all they want if I ever fall off the eco-friendly wagon, and even if I don’t.  (As long as they don’t tell me I’m not allowed to buy any more shoes.) Frankly, I’m just happy my three-year-old son is actually listening to me. He conscientiously turns off lights and tells anyone who will listen he doesn’t want to “waste energy”. Also, we have a time limit on sprinkler use and other water-related activities because (picture this said in the most sanctimonious three-year-old way possible) “Water is precious.” Once a week, we even don our special Garbage Gloves and pick up plastic debris we find on our street, and recycle it. It’s turned into the Best Game Ever as far as my little ones are concerned. Who needs toys and games when your mom lets you touch gross garbage while wearing special gear? One day, I’ll tell them about the floating piles of plastic debris in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but I’ll probably wait ‘til they’re older so as not to give them nightmares.

Today, environmental education has become a part of almost every curriculum, and I find this thrilling. My hope is that to the next generation, environmental stewardship will be second nature, and conservation a constant quest. But I don’t feel ready to pass the torch to my kids just yet (partly because they’re two and three respectively, and likely not quite prepared to save the world on their own.). I think as parents it’s important for us to set a good example— es, children do learn a great deal at school, but they learn the most important life lessons from the people they look up to most: their parents. (Yes, they do look up to you. Even when they’re talking back.) So it actually does matter if you make the switch to incandescent lights and explain why, or start shopping in bulk when possible to reduce unnecessary packaging and talk about it, or have discussions about endangered species and why preserving their existence is important. We’re handing a world down to our babies, and frankly, we’ve left it in pretty sorry shape. I think we should show our children how committed we are to turning things around for their future by teaching environmental education at home, too.

Long live the Great Suzuke!

—Marissa Stapley of Saving the World (In Sensible Shoes)

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