A few schools in London have started teaching children the importance of taking care of the environment through the arts. Children aged 3 to 11 are learning songs about climate change, fossil fuels, and even composting. When it comes to teaching your own children about the importance of protecting the environment, you can never start too early. Here are some of the simplest ways to teach your children to be more sustainable:
Change your own lifestyle
You can’t teach your children sustainability if you don’t practice it yourself. Mother of two, Joanne Moore made a decision to raise her children in the most sustainable way she could manage early on. “I believe we all share responsibility for our planet,” she told Vogue UK in an interview. She replaced single-use plastics, harsh detergents and disposable nappies with eco-friendly alternatives. She chose second-hand clothes, and would swap old ones that her children no longer used with other parents on social media sites. “Buying everything new when you have a baby is incredibly expensive,” she said. Moore had 15 daytime cloth nappies and she would put a nappy in the wash every other day. Although it was tedious, it can help minimise the estimated three billion nappies thrown away every year in the country.
Moore also took the time to investigate natural skincare products, especially since babies’ nappies get changed many times in one day! It only makes sense to use the most natural products. “I also want to educate my children in the use of vegan cosmetics, and what animal testing means,” Moore mentions in the interview. Apart from that, her children’s birthday parties are also eco-friendly. They make do with what they have in their kitchen instead of using plastic cups and disposable crockery.
Take your children outside
The BBC reveals that only 21% of children nowadays have been found to have a connection with nature, while the rest miss out on the multiple benefits of being outdoors. Taking your children closer to nature allows them to develop a sense of oneness with the outdoors that can eventually develop to a sense of responsibility for the environment. Simple strolls around nature parks will give you enough time to explain why they need to take care of everything they see around them.
Even if your child is only a baby it is still important to begin the habit early so they can get used to the outdoors. Start as early as six months, when your baby is at their most curious about their surroundings. Take them out in a stroller a few times a week and let them get used to the elements and sounds. Parents should also consider the direction their baby is facing. An article on the best prams for off-road adventures by iCandy, explains that when a baby is between 6 and 8 months they are keen to see their parent’s face and follow their expressions, which is why it is best to have your baby facing you at the start of this ‘adventure’ together. As they get older and more confident they can face away from you to get a better feel for the environment. Simple steps like this will help ensure your children grow up comfortable with the outdoors, which will help encourage more sustainable habits later in life.
Once your children get used to the outdoors, they will grow up with no qualms about getting their hands dirty. Gardening is the next best way to teach them how to live a more sustainable life. The Royal Horticultural Society points out that gardening has also been found to help kids become more skilled and creative thinkers, with the majority developing a greater awareness of sustainable living and its importance as they grow up. The practical and hands-on nature of gardening pushes children to be more active and flexible thinkers. This can eventually encourage your children to take greater control of their learning and make active sustainable choices in their lives.
Gardening also allows children the freedom to care about living things and take pride in them. You’ll be surprised at how it can transform their confidence and motivation as they watch their own seeds grow into fruit and plants. When children are able to grow their own food, they are also more likely to eat healthily. They will grow up taking more responsibility for their own physical health and diet. Gardening also teaches children that their contribution to society matters. It allows them to see that their choices not only impact themselves but also the world around them. To start your mindful gardening habit with your children, one of our previous posts on Parenta suggested you build a worm farm. Starting a compost is another way to kick off your gardening routine.
Your children will more than likely grow up to have a sustainable lifestyle if you educate them about the repercussions of not handling waste properly. There are plenty of TV shows and online videos that you can watch with them to help them see what will happen if we take our world for granted. The Independent proposes teaching children about carbon emissions and the proper way of conserving energy by changing the way you do household chores. For example, washing machines should be loaded fully to maximise every use and televisions and lights should be off when no one is using them. These simple changes can help your children grow up to be effective eco-warriors.