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Proper Green: Reduce Waste at an Early Age

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Proper Green is a blog about good manners in a green world. Today's topic: how to get children to reduce waste at an early age.
When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them. ~George Bernard Shaw

reduce waste proper green

Dear Proper Green:

My niece and nephew are big resource wasters, and they’re only 4 and 6 years old. They ask for a Coke, take one sip out of the can and then leave it on the counter. A half-hour later, they want a root beer. I say they’ve got a Coke on the counter, but they won’t drink it and start crying if they don’t get the root beer. They’ve learned this behavior at home, but how do I deal with it since they’re not my children?

Dear Friend:

Uggh! You’d be surprised how often I hear this very complaint. But remember, when your niece and nephew are in your home, without their parents, it is up to you to set acceptable boundaries. You don’t have to give in to every request. But be prepared for the tantrum, which you have already experienced, it seems. When your brother and his wife are with their children, you might try asking them to rein the little ones in a bit. And, you can always have a (gentle) talk with your brother and SIL about your house rules, and let them know what you expect when the little tikes are at your place. My guess is they’d rather have a place to drop off the young ‘ums for the night than risk your saying you’ll be glad to have them over, just as soon as they learn some manners.

About Proper Green

The “green movement” is a relatively new one. And because it’s so new, ideas about what constitutes proper behavior within the movement are still evolving. But we think it’s important to establish some guidelines to help smooth the way.

Proper Green is (at least we hope) a blog about good manners in a green world. And while people often confuse “etiquette” with “manners” - the former deals with social custom, i.e., which fork to use or how to introduce your niece to your husband’s cousin at your step-sister’s second wedding––the latter is an expression of respect.And that’s what we’re going to focus on.

Good manners, like our planet, need care, attention and dedication. We hope you find inspiration and answers here.

Please send inquires to: Questions may be edited for length and clarity

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Proper Green
Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more

  • sandra b. 3 years ago
    I'm sorry to say that this is not exclusive to children; I have many adult friends who absolutely refuse to even think about going green in any form. They won't recycle or consider the effects of their wasteful behavior. When confronted, one of my acquaintances actually told me that he can't be bothered because he can afford to do what he wants. I guess being a spoiled brat is not just a function of age. at least in regard to kids you can tell yourself that they're just too young to get it. Adult energy wasters? Selfish, tiny jerks!
  • tommy b. 3 years ago
  • Natalie M. 3 years ago
    My children and I have bee recycling since the 1970's
  • Gina L. 3 years ago
    If a person, family or just a friend starts out at an early age to know "green" they will pass it on. Be sure to make a point with the young. Also teach or remind the old.
    • A B. 3 years ago
      I think as the years you continue to recycle you become wiser with the things around you. I grew up making 12 loves of bread weekly with my mom, planting a garden that was 1/3 acre loaded with veggies & fruit, we had compost, a leaf pile to make good dirt for the next garden each year. I now live in a city & have to adapt all the crazy skills I've learned to my daughter who sees it a totally different way because we are so compressed in the city vs. rural areas. I think the most important part is to keep your part being "green" and others will see it too.
  • Sue C. 6 years ago
    I think it's good to get young children thinking about the environment and recycling by the time they enter school. It all fits in with what they will be learning about in their science class. In fact, I know that it will tie in very nicely with what they discuss in their classes at school. It may help to reinforce the values of recycling to continue the thinking at home.

    Additionally, children learn by what they see done at home and school. If you show initiative with recycling at home, they will see your pro-active approach and perhaps it will impact how they think about treating the world around them especially when it comes to the environment. It is a reflection of good values that are instilled at an early age.