Children love nature. They jump at the chance to go to the park or beach in the summer and build a snowman in winter. So how can we as parents translate that seemingly innate love of the outdoors into a life-long commitment to caring for the planet? Creating a meaningful connection between the environment and kids isn’t as hard as it may seem.
The Environment and Kids: Making the Connection
As with other behaviors we wish to instill in our children, connecting the environment and kids works best when we start small, lead by example, use hands-on activities and make it fun.
So, here are 10 easy, everyday tips we can use to teach our kids to lighten their carbon footprint:
1. Conserve water
- When brushing teeth, turn off the water.
- Teach children about water-saver gardening through plant selection.
- Show them how to water a lawn and garden properly.
2. Flick the switch
- Turn off the light when you leave the room.
- Turn off the TV if no one is watching it.
- Finally, try turning off the air conditioner if the summer’s not too hot.
3. Close the door
- Keep doors to the outside closed so you won’t let air conditioning or heat escape.
- Don’t leave the refrigerator door open for too long while deciding what to eat.
4. Start a Garden
- Start simple, with window-box herbs.
- In addition, dedicate a section of your backyard to grow broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, and much more.
- Finally, involve the kids in cooking the harvest.
5. Avoid disposables
- Use recyclable containers when packing lunchboxes.
- Also, use cloth napkins with dinner.
- Carry a hankie instead of paper tissues.
- Teach children what can be recycled instead of becoming household waste.
- Have kids put old homework in the paper bin & yogurt containers in the plastic bin.
- “Complete the circle” by buying products made with recycled ingredients such as paper.
- Clean out jam or jelly jars and reuse them as drinking glasses.
- Use empty paper towel rolls in your kids’ next art project.
- Turn empty plastic containers with tight-fitting lids into under-sink compost bins.
- Teach kids what can and can’t be used for garden compost.
- Have them the kids sort the food waste.
- Show them the compost process as it happens
- Let them use the fertilizer in their window boxes and garden.
9. Walk or bike
- Lead by example: Not all trips needs to be taken by car.
- Go for walks together as a family after dinner.
- And, when kids get older, let them walk or take a bike to school, to friends’ houses or to the store.
10. Give “experience” gifts
- Toys break or kids quickly get tired of them and they end up in the landfill.
- Instead, take the kids rock climbing or camping.
- Finally, museum, art institute and science center memberships make great family gifts– and future memories.
- Check out this blog for more great ideas on how to give great “experience gifts: 46 Ways to Give Experiences Instead of Gifts