Ensuring you do everything you can to live an environmentally sustainable life is a wonderful thing. However, if you have kids, it’s also important to inspire them to have a sense of responsibility for the environment. After all, they themselves are going to have to look after this planet one day! There’s a tonne of information out there to educate the younger generation about carbon footprints, greenhouse gases and climate change. However, making sure your kids grow into environmentally conscious adults with eco-friendly habits is a whole other story. Getting them to adopt these new behaviours doesn’t have to be a strenuous task, in fact it can be quite a straight forward – dare I say – enjoyable experience.
Get their hands dirty
A sure-fire way to get your kids to respect and want to protect the environment is to get them outside! If you take them to the park, lake or beach as often as you can, a natural appreciation should grow from there. Gardening with your kids and growing food for the dinner table is also a great way to get them interested in both the environment and healthy eating, and it takes care of your child’s natural instinct to get their hands dirty!
Teach them daily water saving tricks
The things we do around the house every day to save water can be easily taught to your kids. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or scrubbing your hands can become a general rule of thumb in your house for all family members, including the little ones. Putting a shower bucket and shower timer in the bathroom will add another level of water-efficiency, with these visual cues becoming a part of your child’s everyday life. Provide small incentives for saving water. Perhaps using the shower bucket to water the household plants or wash the dog could earn your child some extra TV time?
Let the outside in
A smart way to strengthen your child’s environmentally sustainable house-hold habits is to let outside influences support the behaviours. There’s amazing resources out there, like entertaining children’s books with eco-friendly messaging. You can find a great list of some of the best at Greener Ideal. You can also further engage your kids with other resources and provide visual learning tools, like this activity sheet from hipages.
Make recycling a normal part of life
As your child reaches their later primary school years and you’re teaching them how to take out the rubbish, ensure that you’ve included recycling as an essential part of the chore. Teach your kids which items can be recycled and how, and make sure that they do it properly the first few times. From there, the behaviour should become a habit! In the same vein, make sure you avoid single-use plastics in the house. Replace all those little plastic bags for school lunches with Tupperware and take reusable bags with you when you go grocery shopping. If your child sees you making these efforts, it will instil a sense of commitment to being more environmentally sustainable.
Implement ‘powering down’ as part of the bedtime routine
Habits are best formed in conjunction with other habits. To link some eco-friendly behaviours with daily household actions, you can teach your kids to switch off all the lights and power points in the house before they go to bed. Make this ‘powering down’ tradition a staple nightly ritual in your home, and make sure everyone in the family is assigned one or two rooms as their sole responsibility to ‘switch off.’ You could make a fun game or competition out of it, with the first person back to the dining table after having switched off their rooms, getting an extra 10 minutes before lights out the next night!