How to be an environmentally conscious parent in India

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With the recent plastic ban and segregation laws taking effect in Maharashtra, it is important to include children in the conversation as well. After all, this is a generation of children, that unlike us, is extremely used to seeing disposables and plastics all around them. However, the days of our grandmothers carrying their own steel boxes to fill atta and daals, seem to be making a comeback and its better to begin introducing children to this lifestyle as soon as possible. Below are 5 simple ways to include sustainability into your child’s life.

Step 1: Plastic free alternatives

Using durable, reuseable containers, bottles and cutlery is definitely the way to move forward. This has both health and environment benefits, especially if you replace the plastic in your life with copper or clay bottles and containers. You can also have a waste free party for your child, with no plastic and reuseable products wherever possible such as steel/glass dishes. You could tell your child that they can get the “adult” plate for their birthday party and also involve them in cleaning afterwards so that they learn responsibility.

To read more about the plastic ban and products that you can replace plastic with click here.

Step 2: Simple pleasures of cooking at home and avoiding food waste

Food waste makes up 70% of the total waste that is generated in an Indian household! And to think that most people do not utilize this amazing resource is shocking. When left to rot in a landfill, this waste gives out methane and other gases that lead to global warming, but if composted, food waste can be used as rich manure for your plants.

Cooking at home and having your child help, teaches them responsibility and makes for fun, quality time spent together without gadgets. It is also a a very healthy practice to eat homemade food. If you don’t know where to start, Youtube has excellent, simple recipes in several languages. This channel is great for recipes that are child friendly.

The first step is of course to teach your child to not waste their food. If however, you do have food waste, this company provides good home composters. Another really simple way to use cooked food waste is to grind it with water and mix that concentrate into a bucket full of water with which you can water your home plants. This is a good method if you have a lot of plants at home and it helps in teaching children about the farm to table concept and recycling food waste.

If composting at home is not possible for you, try and get a composter for your apartment complex or send your food waste to a composting facility through these guys.

Step 3: Say NO to the straw and other single use products

Definitely cut single use, disposable products from your life. Even the ones that aren’t banned. It is hard to make the switch but it really helps the planet that you will leave behind for your children. Straws and a lot of other single use plastics have already been banned in several states in India, (to read more about that click here) however, it is helpful to remove other single use products from your life as well. One such example is a paper cup that has a horrible wax coating inside that is both bad for health and for the environment.

Step 4: Gardening and Nature Walks

Get your child excited about nature from an early age by taking him/her for hikes and walks in nature and introducing them to gardening. Being amidst nature is scientifically proven to have significant health benefits such as reduced anxiety, anger, and stress that leads to lesser cholestrol, blood pressure and heart disease. Getting your child acquainted to this at an early age will ensure that they remain healthy and positive.

Step 5: Upcycling

Use everyday dry waste from your kitchen and home to create beautiful pieces of art with your child. This helps them become more creative human beings and also allows them to develop hobbies that do not revolve around technology. It is a fun activity to do together, especially on monsoon days when one has to stay indoors, and it teaches your child to begin viewing waste as a resource from an early age. One idea is to transform your old clothes into cloth bags after the current plastic ban. There are several such ideas available out there using waste bottlestoilet rolls, and old toys among others.

Sustainability and a low waste lifestyle is not only better for the environment, but also better for your health and for your pocket. With the way things stand currently, it is more and more important to begin incorporating these things into one’s life.

*Our organization, Upcycler’s Lab, creates learning tools and programs for parents and schools around sustainability. Our vision is to change mindset and behaviour around waste and therefore we only work with children below the age of 9 since most behaviour is formed by that age. Our newest program for schools uses play based learning, storytelling, crafts and songs to teach waste management to children.

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