Cultivating the environmental ethic
Many people have come around to the idea that people have a responsibility to protect the land. While many balance this desire for protection with the idea that there are tremendous resources to be used for the economy, most have some to see the environment as something valuable. Many people are looking to reinforce this notion in themselves and to pass it on to their children. What’s the best way to do this? Just get outside.
If you live in a heavily industrialized city, you might not have the great outdoors nearby. You can still get out to your nearby park. Choose good weather and plan some activities that will allow you and your family to spend some time together. If you return to the same spot in different seasons, including winter, you can start to share the natural cycle with your family.
Spend some time hunting, fishing and camping. While there is often tension between hunters, fishermen and those who seek to use the environment for recreation, there are also a lot of strong alliances. If you love to fish, take your kids with you and try to share with them your love for the activity. Camping and hunting can allow you to spend lots of time just hanging out and relaxing. Without the pressures of day-to-day life, there’s time to expand and bond. One of the best things you can do for the kids is to answer their questions about why you choose to spend your time relaxing in nature.
Plan your vacations around national parks. There is little to compare with the majesty of Yellowstone or the sheer size of the Grand Canyon. Even if you can’t make it to these places, try to take advantage of the state and national parks. The United States has a tremendous diversity in its environment. From the forests of the Northeast to the deserts of the Southwest to the rain forests of the Northwest, there are tremendous natural environments to explore in the country. The National Parks Service has thousands of acres set aside for protection. While most are concentrated in the West, there are state and national parks in every state. While you don’t have to camp out every night to get some appreciation, putting the parks on the itinerary will associate them with fun and family time for the kids.
There’s not a right or wrong way to expose your children to the environment. Kids these days have plenty of time to interact with the electronic environment. Interacting with the natural world will take a little more planning and effort. The most important thing you can do is to make a habit of spending time in the natural world and talking to your children about it. While you can recycle and reduce use throughout your life, a more lasting legacy will be to impart an environmental ethic to your children, which might last for generations to come.