Teaching kids to respect and care for our natural world begins with parents. Our actions and choices don’t have to be perfect, but showing how health, well-being and the environment are all entwined is a great holistic approach.
Whether it’s consciously saving water throughout the day, using better body products, or buying a less toxic mattress, there are tons of things you and your family can do to create awareness and understanding of our impact on the earth.
Here are five health lessons parents can teach their kids to be kind to the planet and their bodies by leading by example:
Turn Off the Tap
You probably already know that running the water while brushing your teeth is a waste, yet we do it anyway because we forget. Yes, 70 percent of Earth is covered by water, but only 1 percent is available for human consumption. Our ever-expanding population leaves our lakes, rivers and aquifers struggling to meet the growing demand for fresh water.
We can’t live without water, so to reduce personal demand and help conserve this essential natural resource, we can start by turning off the tap when it’s not necessary to have it on. There are plenty of ways to conserve water, and turning off the water while brushing your teeth is a great way to start.
Avoid Body Products With Chemicals
A chemical called triclosan is found in products like deodorants, laundry detergents, and hand sanitizers, which is linked to an increase in antibiotic resistant organisms. When washed down the sinks, triclosan can change the biochemistry of amphibians, fish, and plants. There’s potential to cause long-term negative effects in the aquatic environment because it doesn’t degrade quickly and reacts with other chemicals in water to become toxic.
There are plenty of products out there that don’t contain harmful chemicals, such as deodorant made with natural plant and mineral-derived ingredients and do not contain aluminum, phthalates and artificial fragrance. Schmidt’s is our favorite brand.
A website called Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database contains nearly 70,000 products, such as toothpaste, makeup, moisturizers, and baby shampoo. Each product is rated into low, moderate or high hazard based on the product’s ingredient list.
Buy Eco-Friendly Big Ticket Necessities
Everyday household products aren’t the only “green” purchases you can make for the family. Big purchases such as mattresses, solar panels to save on electricity, car tires, and even electric lawnmowers, are a few examples.
You would think beds are safe to lay on every night. Most people have their mattresses for 10 years or so. Wouldn’t you want to make sure they are not filled with chemicals? Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are associated with respiratory problems and skin irritation.
“Mattresses are like cigarettes were in the 1930s,” according to Walter Bader, author of Sleep Safe in a Toxic World. “Completely unregulated and everyone thinks they’re safe.”
Experts are divided on what exposure levels pose a danger. Toxicologist Janet Weiss, MD, has studied these chemicals and said, “Like the new-car smell, mattress smells aren’t hazardous.” Others say even a small amount of inhalation adds up over time.
Eating Plant-Based Foods Instead of Processed
Beans are packed with protein and are low fat and filling. They also have a relatively small carbon footprint, especially when compared to eating beef. Researchers have found that if Americans ate beans instead of beef, the U.S. would realize a 50-75 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Also, it takes 660 gallons of water to make one burger, compared to the 17 gallons of water it takes to have an 8-minute shower.
In addition to water conservation and reduced carbon footprint, whole foods are a healthy option. Even if you don’t want to cut out meat entirely, one idea is cut down on the processed meat and increase the fruit and veggie intake. A unique and easy way to get a vegetable into your diet is to sprinkle burdock root powder into soups, stews, pasta, rice and on casseroles. Burdock root is a great source of the pre-biotic inulin and it’s known to help reduce blood-sugar and cholesterol levels as well. Dr. Cowan’s Garden produces organic plant, root and vegetable powders that make it easier than ever to incorporate 5 plants a day into your diet. Use our exclusive coupon code DRCOWANSGARDEN at checkout to get 15% off your entire order.
Recycle What You Can
What’s better for the earth is usually better for the body. Americans currently get about 15 percent of their protein from plant-based sources. Shifting that to 25 percent could result in enough water savings to provide two-thirds of California’s water supply.
Speaking of water, bottled H2O impacts the environment negatively with it’s disposable plastic packaging. According to The Water Project, only one in five bottles are recycled, which means the rest of people are tossing them in the garbage. U.S. landfills are filled with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles.
All these numbers and statistics may sound overwhelming, but if everyone takes baby steps and does their part to impact the environment throughout a lifetime, the world will be a better place than it is today. It’s an ongoing journey and parents have a great opportunity to show the kids how living more holistically is done with these easy health lessons.