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Earth Day: Raising our own green generation

Earth Day: Raising our own green generationApril 22 is Earth Day and this year’s theme is The Green Generation Campaign. My husband and I are trying our best to raise our own green generation – our two almost six-year old sons. Here are the ways we try to instill in our kids love and respect for nature:

Garbage and recycling. We are lucky to live in a country like Switzerland, easily the country with the strictest rules on recycling, garbage sorting and disposal. I don’t want to go into too much detail (otherwise this post would be three times a long), but in our community, we sort our rubbish into more 10 different categories – biodegradable, PET plastic, paper, glass 1, glass 2, cardboard, metal, textiles just to name a few, to facilitate easier recycling. By teaching our kids to sort for recycling, we are preparing the next generation to carry on and to make the system in place sustainable.

Nature walks and hikes. Last weekend, we did the 7 km World Wildlife Fund beaver walk along the River Rhine. It took us three hours, including a short picnic lunch of sandwiches. We never saw any beaver and we saw the signs of beavers. This is just one of the many nature hikes we would do from March till October. The hikes may also include wading in streams and swimming in lakes and camping. In exposing our children to nature, we hope that they will learn to love and respect it.

Public transport. We use as much public transport as possible. Again, we are lucky because Switzerland has one of the most efficient public transport systems in the world. Our skiing holiday end of February, for example, were all done by public transport – by train and by mountain bus. We could send our luggage in advance, also by public transport. In using the public transport system, we reduce our carbon footprint, we help the economy, and we get some exercise – we have to walk to the nearest bus stop or cycle to the train station.

Energy savings. Switzerland is just a great place to be green, no doubt it. This country is doing its best to reduce energy use. Since the beginning of this year, the old energy guzzling type of light bulbs is slowly being phased out. The few left in the shops are much cheaper but we opted to pay more for the more energy efficient ones. In the same way, new construction is required to follow the so-called “minirgie” system, short for minimum energy. This includes better insulation for warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer, windows that require less artificial light, and installation of solar panels on the roof. Recently, fuel-efficient cars were also given special tax incentives.

Explanations. We reinforce practice with theory. We try to explain to our boys why we do what we do. Why we save on water and energy. Why their paper planes need to be recycled. Why one car for the family is enough. And why snails and slugs and worms can be looked at and appreciated but never hurt.

It is easy to be green in Switzerland but we won’t be here forever. We hope that we can teach our kids to be green, wherever we will be.

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