Whether you turn on the news, scroll through social media, or talk with friends and family, there’s no escaping negative news about the environment nowadays.
No matter how much you know (or don’t know) about what’s happening with climate change, global warming, and waste production, there’s no denying that we’re dealing with major issues. When you have a child, those issues can be even scarier since they’ll directly impact the future of our planet – and our families.
One of the best things you can do as a parent is to help your child value sustainability. Children need to experience nature first-hand, enjoy it, respect it, and learn what they can do to keep the planet healthy for years to come.
That starts with you.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be an expert on the environment to make an impact and teach your child the value of sustainability. Let’s cover a few tips you can put into practice to foster a greener lifestyle now that your child will take with them into adulthood.
One of the easiest ways to get your child excited about helping the planet is to let them experience and explore it as often as possible.
What kid doesn’t love being outside? You can use your trips to the park or playground to your advantage, pointing out different aspects of nature along the way and teaching your little one valuable lessons about things like:
By making your child’s everyday outdoor adventures more purposeful, you’ll spark their curiosity about nature and conservation. It’s a great way to get you both started down a more sustainable path.
You can take your child’s fascination with nature to the next level by planning trips to national parks. Parks are often well-maintained, but they’re also designed with conservation efforts in mind. Many of them protect endangered wildlife and ecosystems, so visiting different ones can be incredibly educational (for both of you!).
Making a list of parks to visit can be a great way to spend a summer vacation with your child. But, make sure to keep yourself and your family safe by bringing the right supplies, staying away from wildlife, and abiding by all posted rules at each park.
To show children how to respect the planet, you first have to show them the role they play.
People have a unique sense of power when it comes to the well-being of the environment. Unfortunately, that power is often abused when it comes to personal comforts and industry. Teaching your child how to respect the planet with that power should be one of your top priorities.
You could start with something as simple as encouraging them to pick up a piece of trash they see on the sidewalk (if it’s safe). Or, the next time you have a bug or spider in the house, let them watch you capture it and release it, rather than kill it.
These small gestures can make a big impact on your child, especially when you’re leading by example.
Speaking of leading by example, there’s no better place to help your children value sustainability than by establishing eco-friendly habits at home.
Not sure how to get started? One of the simplest ways that can get your kids excited is to set up a recycling system. Purchase a few bins or use cardboard boxes to create a “station” in your home or garage. The bins should be labeled with the following:
You could even add a compost bin, but we’ll touch more on that in a minute.
Teaching your kids the importance of recycling and which materials can be used will establish a lifelong habit for them of reducing waste. They’ll love separating things and tossing them into the right bins. When you’re able to “gamify” your environmentally-friendly efforts, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Starting a family garden is a fantastic way to grow your own food, attract pollinators, and teach your child about everything from reducing water waste to composting. There are also plenty of practical benefits of gardening with kids. It encourages them to eat healthier, can reduce stress for both of you, and allows you to bond with your child and share something with your family.
With so many perks, showing them what they can grow and how it can impact the earth is just the icing on the cake!
These ideas are only a small fraction of how you can help your children value sustainability. By making it a priority in your house and your life, you’ll encourage a cleaner, brighter future for your children, and they can take that knowledge and passion to do the same for many more generations to come.