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How to Raise an Eco-Friendly Toddler

Allyson Hepp
April 1, 2013

Dinah Wulf talks about up-cycling and getting creative as part of the Care.com Interview Series.

Dinah Wulf believes that nothing goes in the trash until she has confirmed it can't be recycled, repurposed or even up-cycled into something more useful (or beautiful!). Through leading by example, the DIY Inspired blogger has found that raising an earth-friendly family isn't so tough after all. And now, with a two-year-old who is already a great co-pilot in the grocery store (carrying her own mini cloth shopping bags!), Wulf shared with us some of her tips for "going green." See how Wulf has made green living second nature in her home and why hand sanitizer is an essential with an eco-friendly toddler.

Tell us about yourself, your family, and your blog.

I started my blog in April 2011. My husband and I decided that it was best for our family if I stayed home with our daughter. As a career girl at heart, I decided to start blogging as an outlet. It was something that allowed me to be creative and in control at the same time (because sometimes I felt like I lost it!). After blogging for a few weeks I noticed that my content was focused on repurposing and up-cycling old things and turning them into something new and beautiful. Shortly after, my tag line became "repurpose, reinvent" and I have had an eco-friendly focus since then.

Have you always been environmentally friendly? Can you share why it became important to you?

I think I have always been somewhat environmentally friendly because of the way I was raised. I think it started in junior high when a small group of us were selected to plant several trees on our school property. Also, my older brother (six years my senior) was always a great and positive influence in my life. I remember seeing him pick up a stranger's trash on the ground in a parking lot and throwing it away. I started doing that after that.

Tell us about how you go green as a family? What steps do you take?

We recycle all glass, plastic, and paper in our home. We also use recycled bags when we go shopping for both groceries and retail shopping. I don't think I have received a plastic bag from the store in almost three years. If I forget to bring in a bag, you'll see me carrying all my purchases to the car without one! We are very conscious when we purchase cleaning products and other things for our home as well. We try to think of creative craft projects to reuse as much as possible.

What role do your kids play in being kind to the environment>

My daughter is only two but she has her own smaller recycle bags she takes shopping with us and she already knows what trash items belong in what bin. When she sees trash on the ground (even if it's not ours) she picks it up and throws it away like her Uncle! On a side note, hand sanitizer in my purse and the car is a must!

Can you share any games or activities you've done with your kids to help them understand the importance of green living (i.e. recycling, not littering etc.)?

She participates as much as possible when I do recycled craft projects. Two of several projects she has helped in making are:

  1. Recycled Container Noise Makers during New Year's
  2. Recycled Book Page Garland for Valentine's Day

Do you offer your kids any incentives for being eco-friendly? Tell us about them.

Other than verbal positive reinforcement, there are no incentives! It's a part of everyday life

What advice would you have for parents trying to include their kids in a more concerted effort to reduce their carbon footprint?

Honestly I think if you make it a part of everyday life, it will come naturally. Start early. My daughter knows that we bring in our recycled bags when we go to the store. She turns off the lights when she leaves a room and turns off the water to conserve it while brushing her teeth.

What are your best tips for families to go green and make a difference?

Get creative. Whether it'd be turning a cereal box into a puzzle, or a toilet paper roll into a Christmas ornament, make recycling and reuse fun for your family. Support Farmers and go to local Farmer's markets. Make it a weekend family event. Going Green creates awareness and spawns creativity and imagination at the same time.

What is one of your best kid friendly activity or craft for Earth Day?

Easy Coffee Filter and Recycled Book Page Flowers.

Make the flower by pinching the center of one coffee filter and bunch upwards. Set the first "bunch" in the center of a second coffee filter and repeat the same bunching motion. Repeat until you have four coffee filters. Use a small rubber band to secure the top of the paper flower "stem". To make the petals, cut out paper flower petals out of old book pages. Finally, add a skewer or wooden dowel as a stem and hot glue on the book page petals

Dinah Wulf is a work from home mom that loves to craft, decorate, repurpose and create. Wulf blogs to test and challenge herself to start new projects, share her inspirations, and inspire others along the way. For more tips and inspiration from Dinah, follower her on Twitter and Facebook.

See how other families stay earth-friendly in our Care.com Interview Series: Raising an Earth Friendly Family ยป

Photo used with permission from Dinah Wulf.

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