The virtues of sustainability and “going green” are undeniable, but the importance of climate-friendly practices can be a hard concept for children to grasp. Fortunately, kids are simple enough that putting a few interesting twists here and there should suffice when it comes to incorporating eco-friendly practices into your family routine.
1. Show your kids the "why" behind recycling.
Take your kids to the heart of recycling. Visit a local recycling centre if possible, so your kids can see where recycled things go and what happens to them. You can also talk to them about what happens when people don’t recycle plastic and how damaging that can be for the environment. To bring things further, you can show them how to use reusable bags instead of plastic ones, and how to identify packaging that is recyclable.
2. Turn conserving water into a game
Sometimes kids overlook the importance of preserving water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average family of four goes through 400 gallons of water a day. Show your kids how much water a bath tub uses as compared to running under the shower and challenge them to see who can take a shorter bath!
3. Save energy and lower your house bills together
Review family bills and demonstrate how much energy costs your family and its overall impact on the world from a bigger perspective. Reflect and tell your kids about the things the money could be used on if electricity and water were used wisely. Not only does this teach them to be more mindful of their lifestyle, but it can also help lay the groundwork for more thrifty habits in the future.
4. Grow a family garden together
Children are always excited about the prospect of new life. Growing a plant teaches children where food comes from, encourages healthier diets, and fosters responsibility. If you don't have room for a sprawling outdoor garden, try more space friendly alternatives like succession planting, container gardening, raised planter boxes, or go for an indoor windowsill garden. You can also take the kids down to the farmers market or even visit a local farm. When they see how much effort goes into growing something from scratch, they’ll automatically be more conscientious of what they use and how much of it.
5. Teach your kids the three Rs of sustainability
Encourage your kids to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. There's a simple beauty to be had in making items last as long as they’re meant to – something that deserves to be shared with every consecutive generation. Also, educate them on the importance of donating unused goods for the benefit of the community. Teaching kids that not all their belongings are disposable can help them appreciate and understand the basic tenets of green living.
When it comes to teaching how to care for the environment, we’ve certainly come a long way from watching old reruns of Captain Planet. Leading by example will help your kids internalise these lessons more effectively; even the little things that you do on a day-to-day basis can have a profound effect on just how well this message of sustainability gets conveyed. So if they see you having fun, chances are that they will too!