Make the new year green


Teach your children well

Make a New Year promise to show the kids how to go green. It's a great lesson for children to learn that they can make a difference in the world by making it cleaner and taking care of their part.

Ruth Keller of Vernon Hills knows "by the example I am setting the boys are seeing what should be done,"whether it is by running the neighborhood recycling collection, earth friendly shopping or making sure the paper and plastic in your garbage are sorted.

But it's not easy being green, so here are some tips on how to involve your children.

• Explain the importance of the environment. Use some of the great exhibits around town at places such as Health World Children's Museum in Barrington www.healthworldmuseum. org, (847) 842-9100 or Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, (773) 684-1414. As Keller says, it's one thing "when you tell them so many pounds of garbage is taking up valuable space in landfills"but it's another when "they can actually visualize it.”

• Talk with children about the important role they can play in the environment. Appreciate the beauty of nature with a winter walk. The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, (630) 719-2465 not only gives guided 45-minute tours for all ages, but you can rent snowshoes on the weekends. There are programs on ecology, nature and preservation such as the Mighty Acorns Project at the Conservation Foundation in Naperville, (630) 428-4500 or Knee-High Naturalist at Chicago's Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, (773) 755-5100. You can find a variety of programs and events through the Chicago Wilderness Coalition

• Become a role model. Use cloth instead of paper towels and napkins, install energy efficient lighting, switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products and buy recycled paper goods. The Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, runs a Web site to help you navigate environmental claims and designations on food labels, health products and even appliances,

• Plan and do seasonal projects together, such as recycling the holiday tree, creating a pine cone bird feeder, making homemade valentines from scrap fabric, starting a compost pile. More ideas, resources and opportunities are available at www.chicagoearthmonth .com.

• Lastly check out your local library for great resources such as The Chicago Wilderness Coalition's "Enjoying Chicago Wilderness with Your Family: An Activity Guide,"Jeremy Rifkin's "Green Lifestyle Handbook,"or "Earthwise at Home"by Linda Lowery and Marbeth Lorbiecki.

-- Kimberly Monaghan

Kids Eat Chicago

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