Here are simple steps to kickstart environmental awareness lessons to your little ones:
Early on, when your kids are young, is the best time to teach them about the consequences of their actions to the environment. When they throw garbage, it goes to landfills, sometimes to the seas, the mountains and so on. Teach your little ones that by reducing trash, you reduce your impact for the better. Try engaging them in these activities as well:
Introduce the concept of 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
We couldn’t emphasize it enough. Teaching your children is about showing them consistently how you do small things. It could be as simple as using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water all the time. Get a tumbler or water container with their favorite cartoon character to make it more fun; do the same when you pack their lunch, get reusable lunch bag and utensils.
Donate old clothes and toys
Starting to teach your kids how to care for the environment also means making them understand how sharing resources are important. Let your kids sort out the things that they don’t need by showing them yours and take them with you when you donate them. It will make your kids sensitive to the need of others while keeping usable items out of the landfill.
Build things from reusable materials
Kids in general love to make things. Let them have all the fun by letting them make something out of old cardboard, or pet bottles. You may also enroll them in summer camps that make use of recyclables in art projects.
Use fewer chemicals at home
Teach your child the basic idea of chemicals and how using allows harmful substances in bodies of water or the air. Instead of buying cleaning agents, show your child how other alternatives can be used, or better yet, why not make it a fun bonding activity to make homemade soaps or shampoos too?
Emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere is a major factor contributing to air pollution. While your child may be too young to understand the complex idea, it is good enough time to teach them basic concepts of how walking instead of driving and eating home-grown produce can help save the planet. Here are other ideas that you can do:
Eat less (red) meat
This is one of the most effective ways to help combat climate change. This does not mean going vegetarian, but mixing up your meals with more white meat like chicken, for example. After all, harmful greenhouse emissions from agribusiness are more than that of fossil fuels and red meat uses at least 10 times more water and five times more emissions than poultry products.
Drive less, walk or bike more
If possible, walk or bike your child to school instead of driving a car and explain how reducing car usage also helps lowers air pollution. Limit the use of motor vehicle by opting to carpool too for long distances. Your child will find it more enjoyable to hang out with your neighbor’s kids or cousins in one car rather than taking separate vehicles.
Minimize purchases of new products
This is not saying that you shouldn’t buy stuff – but this is a reminder to conserve whatever is still useable. New products often undergo several chemical processes which release greenhouse gases. Introduce the concept of reusing in your house and when repeatedly done, this becomes a habit for a bigger cause.
When you need to buy, choose to get it from the nearest shop. Take your child with you and explain how buying goods produced near your area also helps lower emissions by limit the vehicle using either on delivering the products or you driving less. Remember that vehicles use gas to run, the chemicals they burn, all add up to air pollution. By driving less often, you’ll be doing more to help save the planet.
Irresponsible water use is one of the major ways people contribute to harming the environment. And we can do something about it. Start teaching your child little ways to consume less water and how it can help save the planet. You’ll be amazed that they’ll end up growing up with that habit:
Remind your children to conserve water at all times
Teach them to start with little things like conserving water when they brush their teeth or take a bath. Remind them how precious and limited the water supply is. Place a cup for brushing and a small bowl to wash out the soap and shampoo. To make it more fun for your little ones, use stickers as reminders.
Recycle water at home
Small changes at home in water consumption can help save hundreds of gallons of water annually. So when cooking for example, instead of throwing the water down the drain, save it in separate storage to cool and ask your child to use it to water the plants instead.
Install a “rain barrel”
Collecting rainwater to be used for different activities at home like car washing or watering the plants will save you tons of water since you don’t need to turn on the sprinkler or the hose. You can involve your child by putting the rain barrels together and using the rainwater when you water the plants or clean the car. It will also be a fun bonding activity.
Wildlife and environmental preservation
Different human activities have impacted the earth’s wildlife forcing them to flee their habitats, and worse, destroying the environment and affecting the entire ecosystem. This is a very fun topic to teach kids as they are able to recognize animals and mountains, trees, flowers, etc and sympathize with them. Start by storytelling how simple actions like using too much paper can cause trees to be cut and birds to lose their homes. Here are other activities you can do with kids to promote this cause:
Start them gardening early
There are many ways to start teaching your child about the environment. Buy them a plant to take care of and teach them how to take care of it every day. Let them observe how it develops from constant care and the lack of it. This will be a fun activity while at the same time teaching them based on the first-hand experience.
Participate in tree planting activity or beach cleanup
What could a better way of gaining firsthand experience of saving mother earth than participating in beach cleanups or tree planting activities? You enjoy and have fun while helping clean up the sea or give life to a new tree. Show your kids that the sea is home to beautiful creatures, the same way as the trees and mountains. Your kids will surely remember this!
Teach your children to respect nature as they respect people
Bedtime stories make good activities to form your child’s view of the world. Incorporate some environmental awareness books for kids that they can listen to, relate and enjoy at the same time as “The Lorax by Dr. Seuss”. A movie that teaches values about taking care of mother nature or showing the consequences of destroying the environment is also recommended.
Travel with your kids
Travel often teach lessons beyond what parents can teach at home or what teachers can explain in the four corners of the classroom. Exploring the world broadens the mind and exposes the mind to the realities of the world. Seeing a sea full of garbage, for example, could be an opportunity for you to explain where the rubbish comes from, how it affects the fishes and creatures of the ocean and what could be done to save it. Such exposure could also lead to more discussions on issues that might be too hard to explain by just concept.
Remember: When you travel, remember to travel sustainably by riding a carpool instead of individual vehicles.
Engage in outdoor activities with your children
Experiencing the outdoors and enjoying what nature has to offer is the first step to teach your kids to care about nature. Once they start loving their surrounding, they will instantly feel a connection to it that will make them want to protect it. The bonus? Engaging in outdoor activities could also help you improve your health as a form of exercise.
Teach them to turn off lights if not in use
In the same way, teach your kids to turn off electronic devices that are not in use to save electricity – be it toys, lights, or AC. When you are out of the house, unplug everything unnecessary and turn off lights that are not needed with your children for them to see.
Close the curtains on hot days instead of turning on the fan/AC
This is as simple as it can be. When the hot summer days come, opt to use dark-colored curtains. Then ask your child to close the curtains when the day turns too hot to block the sun’s heat from entering your house and cool the temperature inside the house. You’ll save tons and also help conserve energy by not switching on the fan or AC that uses electricity.
Use the clothes dryer less often
Your kids are probably too young to understand how avoiding the dryer can help save Mother Earth! But you can start making them understand in a fun way. When you need to dry clothes after the laundry, why not build an indoor or outdoor clothesline with your kids to hang the clothes to dry? Use the sun instead of electricity to dry the clothes.
Parents are the children’s first teachers – kids learn the very basic things and life lessons from home. While most parents leave education to schools, there are issues that parents should also be involved in teaching their children. Environmental awareness is one of them – while we can’t turn back time to do more to save our planet, we can look forward to the future with our children making better decisions and working towards making the world better. You’ll be surprised how the little things you do at home will help shape your child’s view of the world. And the impact of what we learn when we were little, we often carry as we grow up.
Top things you can do at home to help save Mother Earth
No effort no matter how small is ever wasted in the fight to address the ill-effects of climate change. Our every action impact the environment without most of us even realizing. Each household, however, can implement very simple things that you can do every day to help support save the environment. Involve your children in all the activities, and start them young so they grow up to be responsible stewards of creation.
Here’s a “save-the-planet” checklist for the day that you can do as a family:
Use a shower bucket:
Do you know that on average, American households consume 400 gallons of water each day? So the next time you think of taking a shower, advise all your family members to put a water bucket under the faucet to conserve water rather than letting it all down the drain. You may use it for the bath or for other activities such as watering the plants or flushing the toilet.
Use a reusable glass when brushing your teeth:
The same concept, place a glass that can be used for brushing the teeth, instead of wasting water by letting the faucet run. About 2.5 gallons of water comes out of an average faucet per minute so remind your family members to help save some.
Implement a “no plastic” rule at home:
Whether it be plastic straws or plastic bags, try to avoid the use of any of these materials at home. The less you consume, the less garbage goes to the landfill.
Reuse paper for scratch and projects:
Conserving use of paper is another way to help save the planet (and there are tons of paper at home!) Instead of throwing them, why not recycle the back page by using it as scratch material or printing review materials for the kids?
Turn off lights when not in use:
This is one of the easiest ways to conserve energy, yet we often forget it. Put simple notes beside the light switches at home to remind everybody to turn it off, even when leaving for a short time. In the morning, do you really need to turn it on too? In case you don’t, turn it off.
Limit water use when washing hands:
Once your hands are wet, turn off the faucet. You don’t need the water running as you scrub your hands. Turn it back again when it’s time to rinse. Encourage your family members to do the same.
Cut your showers short:
This is all about saving some water in a world where drought is increasingly becoming prevalent. Instead of showering long, try speeding things up to limit your water use. If you can’t help it, use a water bucket and dipper to take a shower.
Limit use of dishes:
This simple means don’t use multiple plates, spoons or glasses in one meal. If you can still use the same plate for the main course and dessert, do so. Same for spoons, forks, and cups. Doing this will limit the dishes you need to wash either by hands or in a dishwasher which means savings on both water and electricity.
There is nothing wrong with letting your smaller children reuse their older sibling’s clothes. Before hitting the shops to buy new ones, think of whether you really need to. Imagine the processes that clothes undergo before it’s made – green fashion is in. Go for what’s more sustainable. Encourage everyone in the family to do the same.
Unplug computers, and other appliances when not in use:
When you’re not charging your phone, or your kid’s PlayStation, or any appliance at home, no need to keep the wire plugged. Even if you’re not using it, keeping it plugged consume some electricity. So encourage everybody at home to do the same and put small reminders around the house for people to see.
Walk the talk and lead by example:
Your kids may hear you say things, but when they see you do it, it makes it more believable and helps them understand the value of your words. Action speaks louder than words, so if you want to teach them well, do it yourself first. Show them that it matters.