As humans, we all share the responsibility of preserving natural resources for the generations that come after us. Today, it is the parent who drives it. Tomorrow, it will be the children of today who carry it forward and inherit the world we have left behind. Sustainability is not a ‘nice to have’. The future of the planet and its many species depend on it for survival. So, we need to teach kids from a very young age what sustainability is and how they can act responsibly.
The Prepared Parent
As a parent, you need to be clued up on sustainability before trying to educate your kids. Become familiar with sustainability terminology such as carbon footprint, going green, and eco-friendly. Embrace it as a way of life that helps you to make the right choices. Lead by example. Use every opportunity to teach them. For example, when putting water in the bath, explain that we cannot use a lot as water is a scarce resource and everyone needs it to live.
A Simple Explanation
Use words your child will understand to help them grasp sustainability. Explain that every person has to help look after the earth so that it can support us, the animals, and the plants. Take them to a rubbish site and explain how garbage ends up there and why it is bad for the environment. Show them a factory dumping waste products into a river or the sea and how it pollutes the water and kills fish, dolphins, and whales. Visit a nature reserve and discuss species that have become extinct. Use the weather to explain global warming.
Have separate bins, boxes, or buckets for sorting items into. Label them for paper, glass, and plastic. Get your kids to draw a picture to go on each container. Have another one for vegetable peels, egg shells, and other items that can be used to fertilise the soil. Demonstrate how the compost is mixed and placed into the soil when planting a vegetable and herb garden. You can point out that when we grow our own food, there is less packaging that can become waste.
Make sustainable choices and encourage your kids to do the same. For example, when buying a gift for a friend, use wrapping paper that is eco-friendly. It is made from recycled and biodegradable paper and will not clog up landfill sites. It can be recycled at a paper mill. Choose the best sustainable gifts the UK has to offer. You can find suppliers of ethical presents UK such as goodthingsgifts.co.uk.
Teach children that even their old toys and clothes can be repurposed. For example, spend an afternoon making puppets from recycled materials. This will enhance your kids’ creativity as well as reinforce sustainability principles.
It is not difficult to teach kids about sustainability. It does require that parents have a firm commitment to taking care of the environment and are willing to take the time to teach these concepts and activities to their children.