Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the site unsustainable.com in Feb. 2020. The author has graciously allowed us to repost it here.
A lot has been done to raise people’s awareness about the simplicity and necessity of sustainability, but there’s still a long way to go. Our children will pick up where we left off, so it’s important to educate them on the accessibility of sustainable living and break the preconceived belief that it requires a lot of money. “Green” living can become a part of your daily routine provided you give it a chance.
Key Ways to Teach Kids about Sustainability
Reusable beats disposable
Everything starts at home, so if you want your children to adopt the practices of an eco-friendly life, you need to do it first. Opt for reusable products instead of plastic ones, such as cloth napkins, dishes, mugs, and shopping bags, and explain to your children how much damage plastic causes to the planet. Whenever you can, choose refillable soap containers and water bottles. When it comes to household items, it’s always good to choose products that don’t have a lot of packaging. Explain to your kids what happens to garbage when the collector takes it away, and make adopting zero waste practices a collective family effort.
Less is more
Excessive consumption of resources poses a threat to our planet every day, so it’s necessary to educate children on what they can do to minimize it. Encourage your kids to turn off the lights whenever they leave the room. Talk about the advantages of fluorescent light bulbs or LED lighting and how they save more energy and last longer than regular bulbs. Also, remind your kids to unplug all electrical devices when they’re not using them to avoid wasting energy. Another important step to make is reducing the amount of water you use as it helps in sustaining fresh water supplies, which are already in critical condition. Encourage your children to take shorter showers and turn off the water while they’re brushing their teeth.
Recycle your way into a sustainable lifestyle
Sorting waste can be done together in order to motivate kids, so why not turn recycling into a fun family experience? Make separate bins for every type of waste you have in your home — paper, plastic, glass, and tin cans, and have your kids sort the garbage accordingly. Additionally, you can take them with you when you go to the recycling center or let them bring something by themselves, such as a stack of old newspapers and magazines. Additionally, teach them about the negative effect of littering and how to always use cans for trash. It’s a good idea to get involved in local initiatives that encourage “green” living, like recycling drives. Finally, encourage your kids to find out more about recycling online.
Conventional clothing often uses a lot of chemicals and toxic dyes in their production, which get absorbed by our skin and may cause skin irritation. Opting for organic clothing is particularly beneficial for children, as their skin is more sensitive and prone to irritation. Clothes made of bamboo or organic cotton are hypoallergenic and better at keeping unpleasant odors away, as it allows the skin to breathe. Also, when shopping for children’s clothes, it’s a good idea to visit thrift shops from time to time, as children grow out of their clothes very quickly, and buying more expensive items all the time doesn’t pay off. Another thing you can do is organize a swap party and invite your friends with children. It’s a fun way to give away clothes your kids don’t wear anymore and receive something they need in return.
Instead of just throwing away things that you don’t need anymore, put them to new use by allowing your kids to express their creativity. Help them transform old plastic containers and cardboards into new items, such as jewelry boxes. Get creative and make Christmas ornaments out of reusable materials, such as scrap paper and popsicle sticks. You can also use old clothes to make costumes for school plays or Halloween parties.
We can’t renew our planet’s resources overnight, but if each of us gives their own contribution, we can help improve the current situation. What is more, teaching kids about sustainable living doesn’t only benefit the current state of things, but it also means that we are helping create a healthier future for our children.