The moment our children are born (and often even before they enter the world) we are concerned about a child hitting milestones.
Is my child sleeping through the night?
Has she mastered the potty chair?
Can he share his toys without biting? Are they able to multiply two digit numbers?
And the list goes on and on.
While these skills are important in their own right, today’s parents are starting to see value in teaching children how to be eco-conscious and are looking for ways to instill a love for our planet. We now see the merit in learning to sort recyclables or reducing energy consumption. If our children don’t learn the ways to care for our planet, we will be setting them up for failure in the future.
Raising Eco-Friendly Children: Tips For Going Green
Thankfully, parents are able to lead by example. By implementing activities in the home we can foster awareness in our children and give them the skills needed to navigate the uncertain future of global warming and pollution.
Teaching simple eco-friendly techniques today, will help children develop their desire to seek out ways to reduce their imprints on the environment tomorrow.
Parents can take advantage of a child’s curiosity and caring nature to influence our son’s and daughter’s habits.
Listed below are ten ways we can make this happen:
- Explore the outdoors. Children who intimately experience nature are more likely to see the value in protecting our environment. You don’t have to take great expeditions to Yellowstone or embrace your inner survivalist to expose your children to green spaces. Play in the backyard, take a walk in a local park, watch the clouds, or listen to the sounds around you.
- Embrace local and seasonal food. Take advantage of a child’s natural curiosity about food and baking. Use their interest to teach children about the importance of good food and wastefulness. While you don’t have to forbid the occasional fast food or head of lettuce in January, you can expose children to farmer’s markets, local egg producers, and visit nearby farms as you put something delicious on the dinner table.
- Head to the library. Swiping your library card can help your family become more eco-friendly by reducing potential waste and saving you a little green in the process. Take advantage of the books, movies, magazines, newspapers, and other resources available in your community. As an added bonus, you can also participate in classes or workshops to raise your eco-IQ.
- Get involved as a family. Seek out opportunities to volunteer and lead by example to send the message you value caring for the environment. Pick up trash, clean parks, or spend an afternoon at the community gardens.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle! Involve children in this process by allowing them to sort recyclables, compost food waste, or repurpose old belongings. For inspiration turn to the Internet or sites like Pinterest to help children see the potential in old furniture, books, containers, and clothing!
- Grow something! Whether you sign up for an allotment in a community garden or use a container on your front porch, this experience is a great way for children to experience gardening and the environment firsthand. Start small and enjoy the opportunity to work together as a family.
- Seek yard sales and second hand stores. One of the easiest ways to make a difference in our environment is to curb consumerism. Instead of heading to the local mall when you need something, first try to find a gently used item before buying new. Besides the economic boost to your wallet, you are reducing waste heading to landfills and finding new treasures in the process!
- Look for DIY projects that include the whole family. Young children and teens are capable of using tools and taking an active role in weatherizing or building projects. Choose easy projects for beginners like installing weather stripping or making a rain barrel.
- Use books, movies, and television to educate children on the virtues of green living. Use these stories to offer new insights or perspectives to help children understand the world around them.
- Make it a game. Encourage children to hunt for “vampires” (devices that draw electric currents even when turned off) and have them unplug these draining devices. Show them how to turn off lights or reduce water consumption, but make it fun!
Empowering Children For Tomorrow’s Challenges
With all the negative predictions about the world we are leaving our children, it can be difficult to keep our chins up. Thankfully, there is hope as we raise our children to become more eco-friendly by instilling a love for the environment early. With our guidance, we can help our children understand how when small acts are combined they really can make a difference.
As parents, we need to challenge ourselves to raise eco-friendly children and help them reach global milestones by pooling together for the common good. What is one thing you will do today to make this happen?
Thank you, Amy.
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.