Although kids may mimic bad behavior, they mimic good behaviors too. One of the easiest ways to teach kids about sustainably is to have the adults set a good example. As parents, we instinctively teach our children lessons that our parents taught us — like not to litter or to avoid talking to strangers.
One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is to recycle. By teaching our children to recycle consciously, we are saving energy and even helping future generations.. Getting a recycling bin is only one of many ways to get the whole family thinking about sustainability.
Here are some other ideas for fun ways to teach your children to save energy, reduce waste, and live healthily:
- Visit farmers markets and local farms on weekends. Lists of local businesses are available online.
- Spend time together outside. By encouraging children to engage with the natural world, they’ll be more likely to protect it. Planting a garden is an especially good way to encourage local eating while bonding with your child.
- Collect rainwater. Toddlers will get a kick out of watering the garden with water they collected from the sky!
- Get kids cooking! Teach children how to make age-appropriate foods instead of providing them with heavily packaged prepared snacks. Five-year-olds will take pride in making their own peanut butter and jelly while older tweens and teens can master omelets and pasta dishes.
- Reuse in a fun way. Collect materials like old magazines and toilet paper rolls for art projects. Your kids will begin thinking about what else could be reused in general, making them less likely to toss reusable items into the trash.
- Rethink lunch. Send kids to school with reusable sandwich and snack containers. Explain how this reduces unnecessary waste and saves money.
- Make it a game: ask your kids to keep track of how many times someone leaves the light on or the water running. Speed rushed mornings along with “shortest shower” contests. Keep track of winners and give them a special treat at the end of each week!
For more simple ways to incorporate green living into your family’s lifestyle, visit the Room-by-Room page and the Kid’s Corner of this website. You local library also has a broad selection of titles on how to go green. You might consider exploring topics like planting your own vegetable garden, eco-friendly cleaning products, or green building design. After coming up with some ideas for changes within your home, pick a few to ensure these new behaviors become habits.