This one is for the parents, grandparents and everyone minding a little one (or plenty of them!) right now.
During our anniversary live over on Instagram, I got asked a bunch of questions about how to teach kids about sustainability.
The talks I have with my two boys about the importance of looking after our planet take time and patience, but they are truly worth the effort.
For my family, sustainability is an ongoing conversation – we aren't perfect* and that's ok... it's a marathon, not a sprint and small steps are always better than none!
*No one really is so relax and focus on doing your best!
Before I start, I’d like to invite you to focus on your own mindset. Like most things in parenting, the best way to make lessons stick is to teach by example.
Kids learn by watching us. And it’s the little actions they see us doing every day that will help make the message of sustainability stick around.
My boys and I work as a team… most of the times, anyway!
I do read books about our planet (there are some incredibly gorgeous ones out there!) but nothing works as well as taking them on the journey with me.
Here are a few of the most effective ways I've found for incorporating eco-friendly practices into our family routine
As always, I suggest focusing on one new area at a time and gradually building from there!
- Ask them to help you sort your rubbish for the recycling bin and explain, in simple terms, why a recycled material is better for the environment than a brand new one, for example
- Get them to give you a hand when looking after your garden
- Get a bird feeder and let them watch birds coming and going, taking only what they need – no overconsumption there!
- Start composting: If you have a garden, you can make your own compost to show kids the full life cycle of organic waste. If you don’t have or don’t want one, you can use the brown bin as your example.
- Encourage your kids to look after their prized possessions like toys, books and clothes – the idea being to teach them to make things last
- On that very same topic, explain that as they grow up, other kids (sibling, cousins, neighbours etc.) will be able to get their old clothes / toys #handmedown
- You can explain that water is an important yet limited resource so get a timer for their showers, challenge them to get it done in 4 minutes… my boys love a good competition!
- Take steps to reduce your energy consumption and compare the results at the end of each month – kids can even get a little reward for the savings achieved!
- Prioritise packaging-free goodies, if you can. We love filling up our jars and boxes together!
- Meatless Monday is a good way to explain carbon emissions and animal cruelty too, if you want to go down that road…
Unfortunately, our reality is still quite worrying; we are running out of natural resources, we are filling up landfills, messing up our oceans & wildlife and the waste we generate today will exist beyond our children’s children...
But I must say that knowing that we are doing our part to give our own kids a fighting chance at a better future feels really good!
Again, every little thing we do is better than doing nothing!
I can promise you that with each swap/example, our kids will understand sustainability a bit more, and the world will be a bit better for them and for all of us.
I'd love to hear what techniques you have used to teach children about sustainability!
Share your ideas with us here :-)