Have you spoken to your kids about the environment today?

By Lina Younes

It’s that time of year when many parents are sending their kids off to college. Everyone has some sort of checklist for the things they will need as they leave the family nest whether it’s books, computers, clothes, household items, etc. As parents, we hope that we have prepared our kids to be independent, to excel academically and professionally, to manage their expenses, etc. But I wonder…have we prepared them to be good environmental citizens?

Now that our children will be living on their own, will they remember to save energy and water? Will they turn off the lights when they leave the room? Will they do simple things like closing the faucet when they brush their teeth? Will they use household products safely?

How about the three R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle? Finding new uses for common items and recycling both go a long way to reducing waste. And in this day and age of electronics, we shouldn’t forget eCycling. Taking old computers, DVD players, and cell phones to a recycling center will allow the reuse of some valuable natural resources and prevent some hazardous substances from ending up in landfills.

Undoubtedly, we shouldn’t wait till we send our kids to college to talk about environmental awareness. Appreciation of our environment and the world around us should start at a very early age. It is likely that children today have already incorporated a green lifestyle. Nonetheless, talking to your children about environmental protection is never too late.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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