Sustainability and green initiatives have come to the forefront of our collective attention. Environmental advocates like Greta Thunberg and the clamor from the scientific community have made headlines and generated enough attention that sustainability has become a key issue.
Even large multinational corporations are starting to shift their focus. Environmental consulting firms now service large, multinational companies, helping their operations become more environmentally friendly.
But if we’re really to take sustainability seriously and in the long-term, we need to start at home. By teaching our children about these changes early, we can help them understand and prepare for the future.
It’s never too early to start teaching your children about sustainability. As the future custodians of our planet, it is vital that we instill in them a sense of responsibility for the environment. But how do you go about doing that? Here are a few tips.
Make it fun
Remember that children learn best when they’re having fun. There are tons of great books, games, and activities out there that make sustainability fun for kids. A classic book about the environment is The Lorax by Dr Seuss. This book teaches kids about the importance of trees and how we need to take care of them.
Another great way to make learning about sustainability fun is to go on nature walks. This is a great opportunity to point out different plants and animals and talk about why they’re important. You can also use these walks as an opportunity to teach your kids (and so a little learning yourself) about the native flora and fauna and how they fit in the local ecology.
Your local EPA may have the resources you need, and encouraging your children’s school to invite the EPA may help integrate their lessons.
Make it relatable
Try to make the issue of sustainability relatable to your children. For example, if you’re trying to teach them about recycling, explain how recycling helps reduce the amount of pollution in our environment. You can also talk about how it conserves resources like water and trees.
Give them an immersive experience by taking them to a recycling center or a farm, or a nature preserve. Seeing how these places work can be a great way to show kids the importance of sustainability in action. Many of these sites have guides who can tell your family about what they’re doing and why it’s important.
Lead by example
Your kids will be much more likely to adopt sustainable habits if they see you doing it yourself. recycle at home, take public transportation whenever possible, compost your food waste, etc. Explain to them why you’re doing these things and encourage them to do the same.
It’s important to teach your children about recycling so they can help out too! You can show them how to recycle by explaining what each type of recyclable material is and why they need to be segregated. They can help you put the recyclables in the right places.
As a fun activity, you can also recycle/upcycle to get the kids involved. You can turn cereal boxes into puzzles, turn cardboard tubes into building sets, and more. By teaching the kids to really think about what many people would throw away without a second thought, they (and you!) can be more conscious about reducing waste.
Get them involved in local initiatives
There are probably lots of sustainability-focused organizations in your community that would love to have some extra help from enthusiastic young volunteers.
Find out if you have any of these organizations have a local presence in your area:
The Sierra Club. This organization believes everyone has a right to a healthy world. They offer ways for people to get involved in their local communities through volunteer work, activism, and education. They also
American Hiking Society. They maintain a directory of volunteer trail crews who work to maintain and improve trails across the United States.
The National Wildlife Federation. Publishers of the Ranger Rick nature magazine, this organization also offers ways for kids to get involved in their local communities through volunteer work and activism.
You can also search for groups in your area, particularly any that cater to kids and education. Many of these organizations hold volunteer activities. This could be anything from helping to plant trees to picking up litter in your local park. Not only will this help teach them about sustainability, but it will also show them the importance of giving back to their community.
Sustainability is one of the most important issues of our time, and it’s never too early to start teaching our children about it. With a little effort, you can easily incorporate sustainability into your family’s everyday life in a fun and meaningful way for everyone involved.