Should You Pay Kids to Go Green?

A new web site, Green Allowance, encourages parents to use allowances to motivate their kids to develop environmentally friendly habits. The site fosters a deal between parents and their kids: the kids take on various energy saving projects, the parents split some of the estimated savings with their kids. Green Allowance sends report cards, showing how much energy and money were saved by the kids’ activities.

My take?  I’m all in favor of teaching kids how to save energy, but I’m not crazy about the idea of paying them to do so.  We try to turn daily activities into learning activities, reminding our kids that we have to pay for things like water.  They’re learning that if they remember to turn the water all the way off after washing their hands, we’ll have more money for a vacation and other things.

A good web site that will help your kids learn how to save energy is Energy Star Kids.  What do you do to help your kids learn about conserving energy?


8 Responses to Should You Pay Kids to Go Green?

  1. Scott August 9, 2010 at 8:10 PM #

    any allowance given to your children is to teach them how to use money. Why would a parent pay their child to help in the home they live in ?? We recently started and allowance in our home. While we do need to show and teach them money managment, I have made it a for sure understanding that the money is not earned , rather it is given to them as members of our family . With the intent that they will learn about managing this fund.

  2. Steve April 18, 2010 at 7:45 PM #

    I agree with JIM. The ‘allowance’ doesn’t necessarily need to be an extra dollar for kids to spend at the toy store. Once kids leave home, they will need to know how to manage many, many things. I look at this as a great opportunity to think outside the home and teach kids responsible behavior. I would sit as a family first and make a plan and discuss expectations. Present the idea of donating the savings realized as a family to their school for a special project or the local pet shelter. Why stop there? Choose, as a family, organizations that could benefit the community as a whole or places where the ‘energy savings dollars’ could help people in places, most recently like Haiti, that are in crisis or had other needs that your donation could be very useful.
    As an adult I welcome the opportunities like this that teach on so many levels. Saving energy on a daily basis is immediately good for the household and the planet. I think, almost more importantly, finding ways to help others who are less fortunate by using our hands, heads as well as our pocketbooks. This is a great way to effect a positive change by many different methods.
    I think the ‘Green Allowance’ should not be taken for granted. Its a lot more than paying your kids to do something they should be doing all along. It’s constant, positive reinforcement about charity and thinking beyond yourself, if we as adults choose it to be so.

  3. Jim April 16, 2010 at 4:55 PM #

    I would agree that, ideally, energy conservation should be a good habit and not a job to be paid for. There is, however, nothing wrong with a little incentive. Especially where motivating children is concerned. I don’t see anything wrong with payment as a reward for saving energy and preserving the environment. The child might also be encouraged to spend the money on a “green” product or something that is produced without any harm to the earth or its resources. In this way the concern for the environment has an overlapping effect and isn’t solely about monetary gain.
    I think the site is a great idea.

  4. Matt Bell April 15, 2010 at 9:51 AM #

    Kathy, it sounds like you’ve found a process that works for your household and that’s great. I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach to allowances.

    I do have to say, though, that I’m more drawn to the approach advocated by Dave Briggs. He heads up stewardship at Central Christian Church in Mesa, AZ and has developed a great workshop on teaching parents how to teach their kids about money. He advocates a 3-step approach to kids and jobs around the house. 1) Jobs kids have to do for no pay; 2) Jobs kids have to do for fair pay; 3) Additional jobs kids can choose to do for fair pay.

    My personal preference would be that energy conservation practices would fall into the first category. They’re not even really jobs — just habits and practices that benefit the family and the environment. But again, the key is to find a system that works for your family.

  5. Kathy April 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM #

    This website is a wonderful idea. Kids love to do good things and they love to get their “allowance.” I’m not worried about my kids linking those two things … they are learning great habits and having a great time doing it. I got them to sign up and now they are super motivated to conserve around the house. They are saving the money they earn so they can do something meaningful for them. Their hearts are in the right place and I don’t worry for one minute that they are learning the wrong lesson.

  6. Martha April 10, 2010 at 12:02 AM #

    My children are all grown and teaching their children to “conserve, conserve, conserve”.
    I viewed the website and I see your point. I think the organization’s purpose and goal is commendable. However, it’s obvious their first priority is “saving electricity”. It’s somewhat sad; as it appears they have not thought through the impact their method of accomplishing this goal will have on the young malleable minds of the children. It could impact the children negatively; teaching them they should be “paid” monetarily to do something that should be done as a natural part of their “without question” habits; like breathing! Right answer, wrong reason!

  7. Sue April 9, 2010 at 3:57 PM #

    Excellent, Matt! I know so many people who reward their children for good grades. I’ve always thought they should get good grades for themselves, not for the cash.

  8. Michelle April 9, 2010 at 11:33 AM #

    Good heavens no! You live the example, explain your expectations and teach your children to go and do likewise.

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