Teaching your kids about sustainable living is an important part of ensuring that our Earth outlives us, them and future generations to come. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars every year, and throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups a year that will sit in a landfill forever.
Teaching your kids to “go green” doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, though, and can actually be a fun way to bond and spend time together.
Be a Role Model
Eco-friendly school manager Sindy Ortiz recommends that the easiest way to teach your children about sustainability (and anything for that matter) is to be a positive role model.
Children are like sponges, and they notice the little things. If you want to teach your children about protecting the environment, it’s important that you first do this yourself. After all, “do as I say, not as I do,” has never worked too well with kids.
Look for ways that you can reduce waste or electricity in your home. This doesn’t have to be complicated. For instance, turn off lights when you leave a room in the house, or walk or ride bikes instead of driving, whenever possible. These small actions will send a powerful message to your children.
Create Teachable Moments
While implementing green practices may seem easy, it’s important that you teach your child why you are making these changes in your home. Creating teachable moments can be as simple as explaining to your children why they must bring their water bottles home with them from school, and why you do not use the kind of water bottles that you throw away.
You can also teach your kids the three R’s. The National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NEIHS) recommends teaching kids yours to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. You can even make a fun game out of it by showing them ways to make good use out of garbage. For example, show them how to make planters out of plastic bottles.
Make it Fun
Living a sustainable life and reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be boring. There are a number of ways to make this a fun project for the whole family. For example, use recycled materials to do a family art project, or go to the park instead of watching a movie.
Planning fun activities is also a great way to keep your kids’ attention when you are teaching them about recycling or reducing waste.
Consider planting a vegetable garden together as a family and have your children help water and tend to the seedlings. When the vegetables are ready to be harvested, your children can help you gather the fruits of your labor and prepare a meal with them.
You may be surprised by how engaged they are in the process, and how much they can learn from a fun family activity.
For more information on going green, visit TBParenting.com.