The world we’ve brought our kids into is an uncertain one, and climate change and environmental problems are likely to be pressing issues in the lives our children have ahead of them.
Teaching children about green living is a wise move. They’re the ones who will inherit the world from us, and although previous and current generations have done much damage, there’s still positive change.
It’s never been more important to teach children principles of environmental responsibility – after all, they’re the generation that will live through the biggest environmental changes in human history.
Teach kids about green living and build good habits early
Kids only become environmentally conscious if they’re able to build a mental picture of the wider world around them.
School geography and science classes do a decent job of teaching the theory, but don’t necessarily get the kids motivated to be green. And as a parent, that’s really your job.
So show and tell them what happens in the world, and how humans affect the environment. If there’s a pile of rubbish on the sidewalk, explain how it got that way – someone threw a piece away, which meant the next person walking by thought it would be OK too, and then the next, and so on. When kids can really see the interconnectedness and how patterns of environmental damage develop, they’ll be more inclined to behave responsibly green.
Litter Goes In The Bin!
This obvious tip is simple enough to be implemented with younger children, and it’s not only a chance to instill good habits, but also to start explaining them. Help your kids understand what a mess the world would be if we all just threw rubbish on the ground, and praise them for putting it where it belongs.
Recycle As a Family
Recycling is an activity that everyone can get involved in. Kids may well enjoy keeping things, sorting them, and even the whole concept of sending things back to be reused or remade into something else.
A household habit of recycling teaches a fundamentally important principle – life shouldn’t be about endless consumption and waste, and we can all benefit by reusing.
Teach your kids to sort items and put them in the right boxes or bins, and tell them the fun story of how those items get sent back, processed and reused.
Teach Them Simple Conservation Habits
One of the easiest ways to get your kids taking green action and feeling good about it is to show them simple things they can do to save water or energy, and praise them for it. Encourage and remind them to turn off taps, turn lights out when they leave the room, and to take short showers as opposed to long baths.
Rewarding them for these simple actions is a great way to show them they’re capable of making change, and help them feel good for doing so.
Again, make sure you help them see the connection to the whole: “If we remember to turn off the lights,that means the country burns less coal, and so there’s less pollution”. That way, kids can learn to understand the direct impact of their actions on their world.
Foster Environmental Values
The culture in which we are raised has a huge influence on our behaviors. In the west, (and now increasingly so in developing nations) people were taught that economic growth and material success were the most important goals to strive for. When everyone is scrambling and working hard for a bigger house or another car, environmental concerns get pushed to the wayside – and we’re suffering the consequences of that now as a society.
If you want your children to become environmentally friendly individuals, you have to start with how you communicate your values.
Encourage them to think about the wider impacts of their actions, and don’t pressure them to succeed at-all-costs. Let them know that material goods don’t completely equate to happiness, and that there are things that matter in the world beyond just accumulation of wealth. They’ll grow up to be greener, happier and more compassionate adults as a result.