It’s Earth Day: be a greener family

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By Sara Jackson

With Earth Day today, now is a great time to take a minute to reflect on what you and your family can do to encourage environmental protection right from your own home. The themes for Earth Day 2017 are environmental and climate literacy.

We sent Sara Jackson, naturopath and nutritional therapist of SJ Health, to speak all things green with Lisa Bronner, environmental activist, green mum and granddaughter of the founder of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Dr. Emanuel Bronner himself. If you don’t know of the company already, Dr. Bronner’s makes organic fair-trade soaps and personal care products and is a family business committed to making high-quality socially and environmentally responsible products and dedicating their profits to help make a better world. As Sara found out, they are the real deal.

We asked Lisa her three top tips to get our kids interested in the environment, and to teach them about the effects of climate change:

  1. Kids don’t believe what we say as much as what they see, so get them outdoors and give them first-hand experiences. Take your kids to a place that has been or may in the future be affected by aspects of climate change. London is one of the most vulnerable parts of the UK to climate change because of issues like its population size and density, the Victorian infrastructure that we all depend on and London’s geographical location in the southeast. We have been experiencing hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters, plus extreme weather patterns like heavy rainfall and heatwaves, which the Mayor of London points out scientists agree are due to human actions that emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Relate your discussion to a place or environment that your children know well. It can be as simple as taking your kids for a walk along the River Thames and discussing flood risks. While 60 percent of the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is deemed at risk, parts of other boroughs north of the Thames were also found to be in danger, including Newham, Tower Hamlets and Barking and Dagenham. As Lisa says, “Your kids need to know that, even at their young age, they can do something about it.” From turning off lights to walking to school, everyday choices add up to an impact. Check out NASA’s Climate Kids site for more ideas on how kids can help nature.

  1. Educate your children about organic methods of growing. Kids of all ages can be introduced to ecosystems, biosynthesis and permaculture in easy ways in our own gardens. Let your kids get their hands dirty and plant a garden using worms and compost instead of petrochemical fertilizers. They can use natural pest control like ladybirds to combat aphids rather than toxic pesticides. Simple steps like this can really make a difference and teach your children firsthand about the cycle of life. Growing a natural garden, particularly if you’ve grown fruit or veggies, is self-rewarding—you will have beautiful, tasty produce as well as having learned about your local ecosystem and introduced the concepts of sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Kids don’t believe what we say as much as what they see, so get them outdoors and give them first-hand experiences.

Try growing sunflowers, lettuce, snow peas, cherry tomatoes and strawberries, which are relatively easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest.

  1. Talk openly about the broader issues. The way in which you do this will be entirely dependent on the age of your children and their knowledge, but keep it relevant to them and their interests. Lisa says we need to “get kids to look beyond their own little spheres and take in what’s going on around the world.”

If your kids are really interested in animals, you can look at the disappearance of the ice caps and the consequences on polar-bear habitat. Show your kids maps with the ever-expanding dead zones in our oceans where the water is so depleted of oxygen that fish and other sea life near the ocean floor can’t survive. Talk to them about human interventions like crop fertilizer and the high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous that have been washed out to the ocean, causing these dead zones. The solutions to these zones are finding better sewage systems, better practices of chemical disposal and using less fertilizer, which may be beyond the remit of your family home, but education is the basis for change and progress. By informing and empowering your kids, you are already making a huge difference.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap is involved in an amazing initiative called the Project Green Challenge, an opportunity for university and high school students around the globe (including the UK) to change the world in 30 days through environmentally themed challenges. Find out more here.

Sara Jackson

Sara Jackson is a registered naturopath and nutritional therapist who runs SJ Health, a busy London clinic specialising in women’s and children’s health. Head over to her blog at www.sjhealth.co.uk or her Instagram feed sjhealth.co.uk for more top health and wellbeing tips and delicious recipe ideas.

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