Most of the conversation around environmental sustainability deals with the reality of our finite resources and potentially harmful effects of carbon emissions as a result of our dependence on fossil fuels. The focus of the discussion is how such will impact our future, and what will become of our world should we continue to live in the way we have, with an increasing global populace living the same way. This prescient approach should not only take place with adults, but with children to prepare them with an understanding about the environment, nature, and sustainability.
Children, more so, have a responsibility for maintaining this earth, which their own offspring will someday inhabit. Making true progress toward a healthier environment requires the cooperation of all generations, and kids aren’t too young to begin processing the concepts of environmental awareness, cleaning up after oneself, saving or reusing. Here are some of ways you can teach your young child about sustainability, right in your home.
- Grow A Garden
Gardening is a fun mechanism that can be used as an effective learning tool. The Green Education Foundation (GEF) says gardening can help children understand ecology, conservation, and biodiversity, by actually being engaged rather than being told. With processes like composting, children can see the benefits of recycling and the use for organic food matter that will aid in the development of the garden itself. For more resources, check out GEF’s website.
Create separate containers for designated items. Teach your child what each is for and quiz them on what goes in each container. Let them know the importance of doing so, with regard to decreasing waste, so they will better understand why they can’t just throw all of them into one area like everything else. To take it a step further, visit a recycling center/plant to show them the process and provide them with more insight about the practice from the experts. Plug in your items and location into Earth 911’s site, and it will help you locate recycling centers closest to you.
Lending a hand to help cleanup public spaces is a great way to help kids think about the world around them, and to instill in them pride about where they live. Children will likely see how careless others are about the upkeep of public spaces, and having cleaned it themselves, will be more cautious about littering or destroying the quality of the area in some way. The work should be both engaging and informative. The children should leave feeling like they’ve done something that has made a real impact.
- Show Them
Lastly, make sure that you’re implementing each of these practices in other areas of your life, and building positive habits in your children by providing a direct example. If sustainable and environmentally conscious behavior is a part of your daily life, your children will follow that example and are more likely to continue the practices into adulthood. Make sure that you’re explaining and providing them with information to understand the meaning behind the behavior.