With an ever-increasing population that still relies overwhelmingly on unsustainable resources, the world is relying on our children for its future. Our generation is making steady progress towards a greener planet. According to the European Union, we have reduced household waste by approximately 2% per annum since 2015. Nevertheless, we need to act faster. The effects of human overconsumption on our already fragile eco-system are ever more catastrophic. If we do not act now to educate the next generation in environmentally friendly living, we may leave them without any viable options at all.
The Three R’s
While recycling is an important part of most home routines, as a green lifestyle blogger for Draft Beyond and Research papers UK Beverly Grant reminds us, “recycling should be our last port of call after reducing and reusing. Although recycling materials prevents them from going to landfill or incineration, the process itself still requires harmful energy and resources”. This is an important mantra to instill in your children. Thanks to a bit of alliteration, it should be relatively easy for them to remember: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Putting such words into action in a busy family setting can be challenging. However, an imaginative approach can turn even the most mundane of chores into an enjoyable game for children. The earlier you introduce your kids to such concepts, the more receptive they will be, and the more likely they are to develop these “games” into life-long habits.
Finding creative ways to re-use ordinary objects is one of the best ways to have sustainable fun with your children. It is also a great tool for encouraging the development of other valuable life skills. Showing your child how to re-purpose cardboard boxes into playhouses, to transform their outgrown clothes into patchwork, and to make necklaces out of bottle tops and dried seeds will teach them to be resourceful, practical, and imaginative. These are all highly desirable traits that will help them go far in life.
The Kitchen Classroom
Another easy area to focus on when teaching your children is the kitchen, particularly since most kids love to make a mess! You can give your brood some practical lessons in how to turn things like bruised bananas into delicious cakes. In this way, not only will they learn how to cook, but also how to limit the waste of foods whose production and carbon-footprint quite literally costs the earth. When such scraps and leftovers are simply past salvagings, it is also good, healthy fun to head outside. Let your children see for themselves how eco-systems work by creating their very own microcosm in the form of a compost heap. You can demonstrate just how long certain things take to degrade, and how much of a difference even tiny creatures such as worms can make!
To go one step further, nothing is more exciting to a child than to grow something themselves. If you have the space available to grow vegetables with your compost, you’ll be able to show your child just how many air-miles and plastic packets they can save!
Reducing your family’s consumption of unnecessary products can be difficult in a world where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements selling our children the latest must-have toy or fashion item. However, if you explain to your children the importance of doing this to protect the parts of the world that they love such as beaches and jungles, they will likely make the connection and jump onboard.
There are many interactive tools you can use at home to help you show your children how our delicately balanced planet works. Ecologist Janet Goodfellow, a writer at Writinity and Last minute writing, suggests “documentaries such as David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ for older children, and bedtime stories like Dr. Seuss’s ‘The Lomax’ to for younger family members. They can help kids understand the importance of our human impact on the environment”. Other useful organizations to consult are GreenPeace and the World Wildlife Fund. Both of them have fun, interactive memberships designed specifically for children.
Professional writer Ashley Halsey of Assignment writer and Gum Essays has experience in a variety of projects nationwide. Alongside teaching her own children, Ashley reads and travels extensively, often attending business training courses.