In these days of skyrocketing energy costs and heightened awareness of scarce resources, it’s good to help young people see how to be good environmental citizens.Parents can help by modeling environmentally responsible behavior: They can turn off lights and appliances when not in use, and recycle newspapers, glass and cans whenever possible. Parents can also buy and use eco-friendly products and let children know why. Have discussions about the differences and why they are important.Parents can reduce consumption of goods by refraining from buying items in excess. They can share with friends and neighbors whenever possible. If you borrow an item, offer to trade a service such as child care, typing, pet care or preparing a meal.

You can also organize an eco-cleanup of a stream, beach, park or playground on a regular basis, and involve the entire family in helping. Children love these kinds of activities, and they are wonderful examples of how individuals can make a big difference with a little focused effort.

It’s also helpful to encourage recycling, collection drives and education about the environment at work, school, houses of worship, and at neighborhood parks and playgrounds.

Children should see that these efforts can affect all aspects of living, in all areas. It is not an isolated effort.

You can also volunteer to help a group at your child’s school — or organize one — to beautify the grounds. Your concern will be contagious.

Finally, encourage children to write letters to governmental officials at the local, state and national levels, expressing any environmental concerns they may have. Show them how to express their ideas courteously and respectfully.

All of these actions help model for young people responsible citizenship in a democratic society. They also show how to be good environmental citizens of planet Earth.

Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools.