Shaping Minds, Saving the Planet

There are many joys in parenting yet nothing prepared me for realizing just how much we influence our children—especially when it comes to ideas we are passionate about.  Oh, we talk at them and with them a lot, but how much of our values are absorbed by these constantly moving, thinking, rambling little beings? 

I recently asked my boys, “What are some of the ways I’ve taught you to be more environmentally friendly?”  My 8 year-old responded without missing a beat, “Three words, Mom: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

Well, THAT was easy! So the past decade has not gone to waste after all! (Insert smiley face of astonishment here.) 

As my 11 year-old ticked off ways we practice eco-friendly practices, his little brother categorized:

“We don’t let the water run.”


“We bring our own bags to stores.”


“We have plastic, metal, glass, paper and cardboard bins.”

“Recycle. See, Mom? You’ve taught us!”

But my boys were just warming up. They rattled off the following ways they’ve learned to protect the earth: 

1. “Turn off the lights. 

2. Buy recycled products.

3. Shop at thrift stores. 

4. Buy local. 

5. Carpool.

6. Tell the government when you’re not happy about something that’s happening to the earth, air or water. 

7. Only put healthy things in and on your body.

Wow, my kids know all that?  Impressive!  

But here was the real clincher:  After we chatted about the list, older bro states, “Remember, we have to do all of these things all the time because you know, we only have one planet earth and we have to take care of it!”  And that was how I realized I was making an impact. 

None of this happened overnight. I had to start small and build on it. 

Take household recycling:  During toddlerhood, I explained the different recycled materials, and we made treasured creations out of trash. 

In preschool, they helped mommy carry jars, cans, and magazines to the mudroom, finding the appropriate recycling receptacle all by themselves. 

Now in the elementary years, they are the first to recommend that we carry out all of our bottles or cups from any restaurant that does not recycle glass or plastic.

I have two compassionate kids who can articulate and follow-through with their intentions. As each year passes, they listen, they learn, and they increase their level of understanding. 

The best part is that all parents can influence their children’s eco-consciousness! 

From the very beginning, the many years of talking and doing are really teaching. That teaching leads to awareness, which then leads to caring. And nothing is accomplished in this world without caring. 



Meet Christa Sywulak-Herr
Christa is a green mom raising two boys with her husband in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A teacher by trade and an activist by heart, she volunteers her time to bettering the local community by promoting education, sustainability, and health and wellness. Christa enjoys nature hikes with her family, quality time with friends, shopping for treasures at the thrift shop, and cooking delicious meals from locally grown ingredients. A self-proclaimed “Reduce-Reuse-Recycler” since she was a child, Christa is eager to share all the eco-friendly tips she’s learned over the years and explore green living with readers.

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