Using Nature To Inspire Kids To Live Greenby Stefanie Kushner
I try to live a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle. I recycle and try to buy eco-friendly cleaning products. I eat healthy foods (most of the time) and exercise regularly. The motivation for this lifestyle has come from my need to feel good, and from reading blogs and magazines about the need for us all to live greener lives for the sake of our environment and ourselves. Part of my motivation to live this lifestyle is to be a good role model to my children.
Although they don’t love my healthy foods and would rather eat French fries and ice cream, they understand why I eat that way and cook that way at home. They definitely understand the reasons for exercise, and my husband and I have passed on our love of the outdoors in getting our kids to love biking, camping and skiing. Luckily, the messages about heathly lifestyle and eco-friendly living are reinforced in many aspects of their lives through school and other social activities.
This past week, my husband and I were in Breckenridge, CO. We love Breckenridge and have brought the kids here to ski many times. This was the first time we have come alone, and in the summer. Breckenridge is a great place to really step up our effort in living a healthy lifestyle, in that each day we hiked, biked, or ran (or a combination of more than one of these). If you eat crappy food, you will feel crappy and you won’t be able to enjoy the outdoor adventures.
The surprise for me during this week was my feeling of “wow” that I’ve never had before during any of our adventures. Although I have a great appreciation for our environment I’ve never really been awestruck in the way I was last week. We took a couple of amazing hikes but one in particular had me stop and just wonder at what was around me (if you know me you know once I start hiking or biking I HATE to stop). Up at 13,000 ft we ran into two lakes in the middle of a mountain. Lakes on a mountain!! Although I was warm, I could see that these lakes are being fed by the snow melt from above. We stood on the side of an amazing waterfall, where we could see the top and the bottom but not the middle because it was snow covered. These snow melt waterfalls are powerful and loud, and breathtaking to look at. We got close enough to get sprayed by the icy cold water. Although there was snow, I was sweating wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky. We got to the highest peak (well, the highest we were going to) and stop at the top lake. There we could see 5 lake trout fish, all facing the same way, all upstream at the edge of the lake before it falls into another lake. Why do they sit there, where it is obviously a lot harder to stay still, rather than further in the lake where the current isn’t so strong? I know there are reasons they do this, but human nature is to go into the middle of the lake where you don’t have to work as hard. The lake was crystal clear and the fish plenty. How did they get up to 13,000 ft anyway? It’s all amazing to me.
As I’m hiking up a steep part of the mountain, and out of breath with every 10 steps (not a lot of oxygen this high up), I look down to see crystals glistening in the rock. It looks like glass or diamonds, but I know it is just natural crystals found in the rocks. The rocks were stunning. I looked down again and saw what looks like a bouquet of daisies that have sprouted up between the rocks. Just to review, in this one hike (which I started calling an adventure) we saw snow, lakes, water falls, crystals, granite, fish, and other wild life.
I am recounting everything I saw, so that you can understand how it strengthened my resolve to live a greener life by stepping up my efforts. It’s so easy when we are back home to slip back into our ways and think that living a greener life is too difficult in our busy lives. It's true, it is more difficult. I am busy, I have 3 busy kids, and a busy husband. It’s definitely easier to use disposable products, buy food that is not local, drive instead of ride our bikes,etc. What I learned from this week, is that it’s not about being easier but leaving these great wonders of Mother Nature for my kids. I am not only motivated to lead a greener life and to teach that to my kids, but to SHOW my kids these wonders and make sure they appreciate nature and why we need to protect it. It’s easy for them to understand what an unhealthy lifestyle feels like when they are sluggish, unable to keep up with their friends, or just not feeling well. What’s harder to see in cause and effect is why we NEED to live greener lives and why we can’t take the easy road. If they were on that mountain, looking at all the wonders I saw, I know that it would be obvious to them as well. In my effort to teach them these lessons I definitely think the picture of being on that mountain, huffing and puffing to get to the top, and then stopping at the beauty around us is definitely more effective than anywords I could come up with to explain this worthwhile lesson.