How can we ever expect to repair the world if we allow the eco-friendly habits to die along with us? Even though there has been an increased focus on sustainability in recent years, the job is not close to being done just yet. Instead, there is still plenty to do to ensure that we can help to get the world back to a comfortable and habitable place for future generations.
The only way to do this is to educate them on the practices they must adopt to ensure that they can continue what we started. It’s not enough to consider sustainability as a trend that will soon die out, but one that is essential. Your kids may not be so concerned with the environment now, but if you want them to live in a world where they can do and see whatever they want, it’s vital to teach them the importance of sustainability.
Create a Recycling Scheme At Home
Starting a recycling scheme at home is one of the best ways to teach your kids about sustainability. For parents who are only beginning to focus more on sustainability, it’s undoubtedly the most natural place to start.
Your kids will have already been exposed to recycling at school or on TV, so they will be familiar with the concept. What you need to do, though, is make it the norm within the house. You can do this by installing garbage cans for both general waste and regular waste. If you have young kids, it’s useful to have pictures on what should go where to help them understand what you can and cannot recycle.
Reward Them for Reducing Waste
Sustainability should not be a game, but as many kids learn better when they enjoy their education (and often don’t feel they are learning at all), you can reward them for reducing waste.
Creating a merit or sticker system in the home for them finishing their dinner or snacks, as well as remembering to switch the tap off between rinsing when brushing their teeth, will help them understand the importance of reducing waste. This won’t work all the time, as kids can be temperamental, but it’s a fantastic way to introduce waste reduction in the home and give them an incentive.
Show them How to Reuse
The world spends too much on single-use or disposal items every year, and these disposable items will only end up in a landfill or blocking drains somewhere else. This is why it’s essential to teach them the importance of sustainability and the benefits of buying reusable items to help minimize waste.
The most common solution is a reusable water bottle, which is especially useful when they go to school or play with their friends. However, there is so much more you can do. Rather than use paper towels, consider cloth napkins with dinner, while reusable wool balls for dryer are much better than dryer sheets, and will save you plenty of money in the long run.
Suggest Eco-Friendly Transport
Okay, so your kids are unlikely to need to drive a car just yet, and they won’t need to do so for a long time. Still, you can teach them about alternative and more eco-friendly means of transportation when possible.
Teaching them to ride a bike and develop a passion for cycling will make them confident while riding, which could inspire them to bike to work or school rather than drive. Furthermore, while no one really likes taking the bus or train, it is much better for the environment than a car. There will be instances where a car is the only way to travel, but giving them other options will help them cut down on potential exhaust emissions.
Encourage Creative Sustainability
Any parent understands how bored kids can get, even with the most expensive toys that you have treated them to year after year. Kids want to play, they want to indulge in their imagination, and so they will need something to stimulate the brain.
Encouraging sustainability through creativity is a wonderful way to do this. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on brand new toys that they will soon get bored with, consider doing crafts and DIY with them. There is a wide range of things they could make with empty boxes around the house; you just need to get them to think a little harder. This will encourage creativity and also help them in the future when met with problems. When getting kids to understand the importance of sustainability, making them realize the value of things is critical.
Shift From Baths to Showers
Most kids will shift from baths to showers at some point, but the sooner you do it, the more water you will save. However, even with this, some kids still love to take long showers, so you’ve got to wonder whether the switch is worth it.
It usually is, and it’s also worth encouraging your kids to take short showers, at least on school days where everyone needs to use the bathroom before going out for the day. You can also invest in low-flow showerheads, which will further reduce the amount of water you use.
Shop At Sustainable Stores
Sure, Walmart and Target are cheap and convenient, but the clothes are often not high quality, and the manufacturing means are more than a little suspicious. Shopping at sustainable and eco-friendly stores will overcome this problem, and while you may need to spend a bit more at first, the clothes will last longer, reducing the need for replacements. Delayed gratification is a big lesson when teaching the importance of sustainability.
While it’s unlikely your kids will be too fashion-conscious, they can at least learn about what makes good quality clothes. You can also explain why sustainable clothing is essential and how to ensure their style is eco-friendly. You don’t need to abandon budget stores altogether, but encouraging sustainable shopping is always useful.
The Benefits of Borrowing
Buying new things is exciting no matter how old you are, but it’s not always necessary – a hard lesson when getting kids to understand the importance of sustainability. You don’t always need a brand new set of brushes to paint the fence, and although a slow cooker is nice and shiny, there is surely someone who has one spare.
The problem is that many kids might feel embarrassed about needing to borrow things rather than having items that are brand new. But, borrowing will prevent landfill waste and also protect their bank account as they grow up.
Spend More Time In Nature
Kids who spend more time in nature will develop a natural love and appreciation for the environment. It’s not enough for them to learn about it on TV or in books; they need to see it, feel it, and smell it in person.
Go on walks and trips with your kids that give them the chance to experience all that nature can offer. If you live too far from an excellent nature area, you can start a garden and teach them about growing vegetables that they can eat once they are ready. This is a big step in teaching them the importance of sustainability.
Get Involved With the Community
Your kids may not always listen to what you say, but introducing them to a sustainable community can increase their understanding of why sustainability is so important. This will give them the chance to meet like-minded people as well as make some friends their age that they can help them to learn more about sustainability and how someone their age can make a difference.
Some kids will take naturally to learning about sustainability, whereas others may prefer to play indoors with their toys or video games. It’s no good to force sustainability on them, but you can lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of sustainability. Even if they do not come around to the idea immediately, with enough evidence to convince them, you can rest assured that you are educating another generation of eco-warriors that will understand the importance of sustainability.