How to Raise Eco-Conscious Children
By Cora Gold
As climate change continues to affect our planet, parents must take the matters of sustainability education into their own hands by raising eco-conscious children. Since kids are naturally curious about many things, they’re the best students to teach about how to protect the planet.
Impact of Teaching Sustainable Habits
Children are quick learners. They’re sponges for new concepts and behaviors, so it’s easy to teach them sustainable actions that will become positive habits. Here are five ways you can raise them with environmental consciousness in mind.
1. Conserving Energy and Water
The simplest environmentally friendly act you can share with them is conserving limited resources, like water and energy. The average American can waste up to 180 gallons of water per week or 9,400 gallons yearly. Overusing these two contributes to the continued warming of the earth through carbon emissions.
Remind children to turn off the TV, AC, and other appliances when not in use — do the same with the water source. Share tips on saving electricity and water in daily activities, such as reusing vegetable water to irrigate plants. It may not be obvious, but they remember everything you teach them.
2. Loving the Nature
The outdoors is their playground, so teaching them to care for nature is easy as they somehow grasp its value in their lives. Take your kids hiking in the forest or bring them to the beach. The more opportunities you give them to see the beauty of nature with their own eyes, the more their love for it expands.
If you’d like to make this small learning stint fun, why not make it a family affair? Turn your bonding time into environmental activities and outdoor discoveries, like volunteering for a tree planting drive or spending the weekend on a picnic near a lake. When they spend more time outdoors, their connection with nature grows.
3. Gardening and Composting
A surprising 96% of the foods Americans throw end up in landfills, combustion facilities and sewers when they have a better use as a compost pile, creating a fertile ground for your garden.
Gardening and composting can improve your children’s well-being and encourage learning of natural processes. By using various tools for digging, watering and planting, they can develop their sensory and motor skills. They also get to satisfy their curiosity about the plant’s life cycle, from when they sow the seed until it flowers, and discover the significance of bees and worms in this process.
This kind of learning through discovery and close observation improves your kids’ skills to gather, evaluate and understand information to make better decisions or conclusions. While these abilities are often learned through a quality STEM or STEAM education, you can provide a similar, engaging, and fun way for them to start learning complex concepts right in your yard.
4. Promoting Low-Emission Travels
Children love to stay active through play, which helps their health. Take care of both at the same time by slipping a green move to their activities, like biking and walking. People are now more receptive to sustainable transportation after discovering that the industry contributes up to 29% of greenhouse gas emissions — the largest among all sectors.
You can bring this positive initiative to your home by teaching your children how to make green choices, such as biking, walking or riding the school bus to school. While some already practice this, adding more context and explaining why they must do it to lower emissions helps children better understand how their small efforts leave a positive trace on the planet.
5. Reducing Waste
Lastly, you can encourage them to minimize waste and score points for the planet. Most children emulate their parents’ behaviors by observing — what you show them, they follow. This is why demonstrating how to reduce trash — rather than talking about it — is a much more effective education. Learning by doing also leads to better memory retention.
So how can you teach this? There are several ways, such as using reusable shopping bags, planning meals to avoid food waste, and renting tools instead of buying. By showing them through actions, they’ll adopt the habits gradually.
Leading by Example
Children learn first at home, so parents must be role models for sustainable behaviors. Your kid could be the next scientist to solve the perpetual waste problem. Teaching them to care for the planet helps ensure they also come to appreciate every tree, sea, and forest they see and carry this eco-consciousness attitude into adulthood.