The Environment and Kids: Teaching Children to Care For The Planet

Written by Greenwise Team
Published on December 29, 2016
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.
environment and kids

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.
environment and kids
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.
environment and kids
4. Start a Garden
  • Start simple, with window-box herbs.
  • In addition, dedicate a section of your backyard to growing 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.
environment and kids
6. Recycle
  • 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.
7. Reuse
  • 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.
environment and kids
8. Compost
  • Teach kids what can and can’t be used for garden compost.
  • Have the kids sort the food waste.
  • Show them the composting 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 need 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.
students planting native seedlings
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