Is The Future Disposable?
My two-year-old daughter is convinced that there is no need to feed our fish because we can simply replace them when they die. My four-year-old son cannot understand why we do not buy a boat on a whim. My nine-year old neighbour insists on having the latest tablet to replace last year’s model. My colleague washes his kitchen floor with a disposable mop pad rather than with vinegar and water. The middle-aged couple I met on the bus bought a house for the third time in seven years because they would rather move than renovate.
From homes, toys and technology to food and water, we are part of a society that consumes in excess without much thought for long-term consequences. We seem to always be seeking the newer and better, and these throw-away habits are depleting our finances and natural resources. What’s more, change seems improbable considering that our attitudes and impulses are rubbing off on our impressionable children who are growing up to believe that all is dispensable.
The absence of personal accountability is so prevalent that we even encourage (directly or indirectly) our children’s tendency to abandon commitments that are difficult to sustain, whether it be sports, music or part-time jobs. No longer are our children willing to tackle a challenge, instead we are reinforcing the prevalent attitude of a generation that thrives on instant gratification.
The solution: raise conscientious and responsible children who will lead future generations in sustainability instead of waste. The method: get them involved!
- Recycling: Teach your children about recycling by having them sort garbage, packaging and compost. By having them identify what bin an item should go into, children become actively involved in the recycling process and internalize eco-friendly habits more easily;
- Eating Food: Serve small portions of food at meals, allowing for second helpings if needed. Explain the importance of finishing what is on the plate before taking something more. Save and serve leftovers! Stress how precious food is and teach children to be grateful for what they have;
- Growing Food: Grow a garden in your backyard and get the kids involved! They will have tons of fun digging, planting and cultivating, while tangibly learning how to grow food. By experiencing the cycle first-hand, they will be more reluctant to waste;
- Water: Teach your kids how to conserve water. Turn the tap off while you lather the soap in your hands or brush your teeth. Take shorter showers and water your garden in the evenings to avoid evaporation. Given that some families struggle to survive on one litre of water per day, it should be a punishable crime to ‘sweep’ your asphalt driveway with the hose;
- Reuse: Once kids have outgrown their clothes, shoes or toys, get them to help package and distribute the items to others in need. Encourage them to wear second-hand clothing. In fact, they sometimes prefer wearing clothes that belonged to an older cousin or neighbour whom they admire.
It is never too early to introduce the value of conservation; however, modelling the behaviour rather than simply preaching it is fundamental to the assimilation of this lesson. More importantly, stop believing that happiness is directly proportionate to material gain and begin to modify your own consumerism. Quickly, you will lighten your financial burden and reduce your environmental footprint.