Earth Day to a Four Year Old

When I was a kid we didn’t have an Earth Day. Although, I suppose if we had it back then, we might not need it today.

I didn’t know anything about recycling until I was in high school, and then it was just the crazy neighbors down the street who recycled soda cans to make some extra cash. In college I started using the scratchy recycled paper tissues and cleaning my dorm with vinegar and lemon. Thankfully, being earth-friendly has become a lot more user-friendly, so much so that there’s really no good reason not to do it.

Try explaining that to a four year old.

My kid loves to turn the hose on in the afternoon on a hot day and just let it run, spay the dog, wash her swingset, you know, basically burn though Southern California’s scarce and precious water. Oh, and she loves to grab as many paper towels as humanly possible to clean up the tiniest of spills. This might shock you, but saying: “Sweetie, California is experiencing a drought,” or “Honey, think of the trees,” doesn’t work like a charm.

So how do you get even the youngest kid on board with living responsibly? Not sure I know the answer, but I’ll tell you what works for me.

Teach your child to live responsibly in all aspects of her life. First and foremost that means taking care of herself: things like brushing her teeth, dressing herself, and getting herself a snack. Then teach her to take care of others: feeding the dog and cat, making birthday cards for friends. Taking care of others requires respect and compassion, and if you can treat a friend with respect and compassion, you can do the same for the world around you.

Give your child the tools they need to directly impact their little world in positive ways. Before you know it, they’ll grow out of their little world and be smack dab in the great big world. If we all raised mindful, responsible kids, think about what Earth Day could look like 30 years from now. Maybe we wouldn’t even need an Earth Day in 30 years. I doubt that could happen, but a girl can dream…

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