In the Earth-lover’s Library…

Ensuring that our Earth will be cared for in the future means that we are charged with raising the next generation to be conscientious keepers of our earth. Try surrounding the youngsters in your life with fun earth-centered activities and stories and watch them become devoted tree-huggers; and, hey,you might just find yourself having a good time as well!

Check out some of my top resources to help create a generation of Earth-loving Tree-Huggers!

Story Books:

What can I say? I am a sucker for a picture book about loving our planet, so there is no way that I could choose just ONE book! So here are my top five “green” books for kids:

The Lorax By Dr. Seuss:

The Doctor is in! This is the ultimate Earth-Day classic and reaches across generations. And, don’t forget, there is a TV version of this as well.

The Earth Book by Todd Parr

If you look at my last series of favorite books for kids, you’ll see that I have already sung my praises for Todd Parr. I have a serious soft spot for this author who can speak to kids of all ages through his simple, loving wording and his adorable illustrations. Plus, this book contains a special surprise; a pull-out poster of reminders of the things that we can do to help our planet every day. You may just find yourself putting YOUR underwear in the freezer this summer!

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

This book tells an inspiring and charming story about a little boy who begins a movement and ultimately transforms a “green-less,” abandoned railroad into luscious gardens that transform the city into a place of beauty, community and life! This story is a great way to get kids excited about gardening and to even introduce them to the idea of urban gardening. The book will touch your heart and hopefully move you to make a difference in your city!

We Planted A Tree by Diane Muldrow

This short, poetic story is an easy way to introduce the idea of the Interdependent Web; “We planted a tree, And that one tree make the world better.”  Through looking at all we can do by simply planting a seed, we get in touch with the power of each and every act. Check it out!

All I See is Part of Me By Chara M. Curtis

Speaking of the Interdependent Web… this story beautifully reminds us that we are connected to ALL. Reminding our kids that they are connected to everything (even things they cannot see!) is a great way to share the importance of caring for our planet and each other.

Music

I couldn’t highlight some of my favorite resources without talking about Jack Johnson.

One of my favorite albums is called “Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George.” With songs about recycling and a collaboration with Ben Harper that reminds us of what we can achieve with our “Own Two Hands,” this is a must-have for parents, teachers, grandparents, and… well, everyone!

Not only is Jack Johnson’s music great for all ages, but he is also a heck of an enviornmentalist himself; take a peek at his website to learn more about his efforts to green everything from the way he produces his music to reduce the footprint of each and every concert.

Crafts:

Make It! By Jane Bull

If you or anyone in your home loves to get crafty, check out this awesome book of ways to reuse items and turn them into great gifts (and a fun project for a rainy day!). Learn how to make jewels from junk mail, nifty picture frames from old toys, and stuffed animals from hats and gloves. This is a great way to make gifts for holidays.. and hey, play a little Jack Johnson in the background and you have yourself a recipe for a “green” day of fun!

“It Isn’t (Always) Easy Being Green!”

Making tracks in nature

A few years ago, we made the decision that we were going to be more conscious about “greening” our home. We started replacing our cleaning supplies with natural alternatives, traded in our paper napkins for cloth, shopped second-hand when possible and vowed to drive the most fuel-efficient vehicles we could.

Then we had kids.

Our perfect vision of efficiently running a perfectly green home as two working parents with two kids under the age of four in the middle of a recession has been… well, a bit of a challenge. I’ll admit it; our food scraps are, at times, tossed into the trash rather than into our compost pile, and while we started our parenting careers with every intention of cloth diapering, scrubbing the soiled diapers of a toddler with multiple food allergies was quite enough for us, and we opted for disposable diapers instead.

When time is of the essence, it is really hard to make–and stick with– huge lifestyle changes. It pains me that it is our Earth that pays the price for our hectic lifestyles; from the way we tend our lawns to the way we eat, our lives almost require that we cut corners and take short-cuts. So how do conscientious Unitarian Universalists reconcile the difference between all the things we know we ought to do and the few things that we know are possible to do?

This is a constant struggle for me and, I suspect, many of you. It almost seems unfair that here we are, a family who would love to devote all our time and resources to sustaining our earth and yet, it seems impossible to do that and sustain ourselves as well.

We have often joked about “quitting” society, packing up and moving to an imaginary place where we would live off the land and completely off the grid; where our lives would not revolve around making money to pay the bills to keep the lights on. Of course, it would mean that our lives would completely revolve around other things; like, you know, the weather and the growing season…

But even if this imaginary world were absolutely perfect, “quitting” would fix the problem for no one else but us. We would be able to rest on our laurels knowing that we did something, but it doesn’t change our culture so that there is more room in everyone’s life to care for our planet. Because, let’s face it, if we don’t all start making changes to care for our earth, our earth is going to stop taking care of us.

So I think that the necessary question to ask ourselves about “going green” is not only “what can I do to honor the Earth?” but also, “How can we work to weave these changes into the fabric of our society?”

It is sustainability on a whole new level. Yes;we work to sustain our planet in everything we do and work to better ourselves. But a handful of individuals making these changes because they have the means to do so is not enough; we also must work to make these choices more accessible to everyone, everywhere. Being green can no longer be a privilege.

So where do we start?

(For more on this topic, check out this awesome blog post by Jo Paoletti)