With climate change impacting the world so heavily, it's more important now than any other time to make sure we're being as environmentally conscious as possible. Our kids are the next generation of life on this planet and making sure that they know how to take care of the Earth is important. Below are a few ways that you can teach your kids about being environmentally conscious and action items you can take as a family right now to help the environment.
Spend Time in Nature
One of the parts of saving the environment is making sure that our natural surroundings are being preserved. By taking your kids out into nature through hikes, visiting parks, or other natural areas, you can start to show them the importance of protecting the environment. Plus getting out into nature is a great way to bond as a family.
Have Them Help Put in LED Lights
Something small that helps the environment is using LED lights instead of traditional bulbs. LEDs make up around 53% of the global lighting market, so not only are they helping the environment, but they also actually work. You can have your kids help you switch out the lightbulbs in your home from older bulbs to LEDs and explain that using less energy helps the environment. After you've replaced them, you can talk about turning off lights when you're not in the room and unplugging things that you aren't using.
Get Help With Eco-Friendly Landscaping
Your yard is a little piece of nature that you have open access to, and it can be a great way to teach your children about environmentally friendly practices. You can start a vegetable garden where you grow things that you can eat, therefore cutting down on energy used to store and transport vegetables. You can also start making small changes to be more environmentally friendly, like using organic topsoil and mulch or, if you live in a drought-prone area, replacing real grass with synthetic grass. Synthetic grass can save up to 55 gallons of water per square foot, making it a great environmentally friendly option without having to give up having a lawn. Have your kids help you while you're taking care of your yard and tell them how certain actions help the environment.
Shop Small and Local
Shopping at small local businesses can have a positive impact on the environment since you're not contributing to the pollution that large companies create when manufacturing and transporting their products. Only 25% of businesses make it 15 years or more, so if you have a small business that you love, make sure to support them as much as possible. Helping the environment can come in many shapes and forms, and letting your kids know that eco-friendliness isn't just
Teach (and Use!) the Three R's
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are at the center of every conversation about teaching kids to take care of the environment. However, if you don't actually use the three R's in your everyday life, your kids likely won't use them themselves. Some easy ways to reduce can be turning off lights when you leave a room and not leaving the water running while brushing your teeth. Reusing is a little bit easier -- if you have a piece of paper you were going to throw out, have your kids use it to draw or paint on, use old t-shirts to make rags for cleaning, and keep hard plastic take out containers and glass sauce jars to use for leftover food. Recycling is probably the easiest -- just make sure that you're actually recycling everything that you can and make sure not to throw away recyclable items.
Join Community Efforts
There are usually community events centered around environmental initiatives and finding a sustainably-minded community for your family to be a part of can make eco-friendliness a lot easier to keep in mind. Whether you're going to trash pick-ups at local parks and beaches or working in a community garden, you will probably be able to find events that center around environmental consciousness near you. And if you can't, you can start an initiative yourself -- trash pick-ups aren't difficult to organize, and they can help a lot with cutting down on litter.
When your kids outgrow their clothes, make an effort to show your kids that you're donating them or otherwise handing them down. This will give them a good idea of how the "reuse" of the three R's comes into play -- someone else is going to be using the clothes they don't anymore. If clothing is extremely damaged or stained, consider turning it into cleaning rags before you just throw it out.
In addition, try to buy clothes that have been used already to really drive the point home. Right now thrifting clothing is actually in fashion, so your kids might even be excited to go to a thrift store with you to find clothes. When you are buying new clothing, try to look for investment pieces or clothing made by more sustainable brands. These things might be more expensive, but thrift stores are generally inexpensive enough to balance out the cost.
Watch Movies and Shows With Environmental Themes
Sometimes the best way to teach important life lessons is to let media help you. You'll still have to figure out how to transfer those lessons from the TV shows and movies and into real life, but the shows and movies have already taken big concepts and made them understandable to kids. Movies like Wall-E have environmental messages that kids can understand and that you can use to open up discussions about the environment.
Climate change is something our kids will have to deal with throughout their lives, but teaching them early on how they can help the environment can make the issue more manageable for them. These ideas can help your kids understand that their actions, however small, can actually have a positive impact on the environment.
Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.