Sustainability can be a difficult concept to grasp, even for adults. That’s why it’s important to introduce the concept of sustainability at a young age, in the crucial years of development for children. Sustainability in learning can be fun, engaging and impactful. Children are curious, caring and impressionable. Sustainability is a continual conversation, by teaching children about environmental issues, we are giving them the tools to join the conversation about the future, their future. If you introduce environmentally-friendly practices early on, it can create healthy habits your children will carry through life. There are a few ways you can encourage your children to become eco-warriors.
Lead by Example
Children learn by watching you. It’s all well and good to talk to them about sustainability, however, if your actions don’t align, they won’t make a positive impact. Incorporating eco-friendly practices into your everyday life can help your kids to understand how small changes can have a big impact. Here are a few ideas on ways to introduce eco-friendly practices into your home:
Make your own laundry products
This is fun, practical and educational. Kids love hands-on activities. Making your own laundry detergent allows your kids to scoop and mix, allows you to avoid plastic packaging and might save you a few dollars too! The best thing about making your own laundry products is that you know exactly what is going into it. There are plenty of recipes out there, try one out and add your preferred scent.
Pick Up Rubbish
It doesn’t have to be Clean Up Australia Day to encourage your kids to pick up rubbish. Grab some garden gloves, buckets or bags and take a walk with your tribe. Waterways and parks are (unfortunately) usually the spots where people will litter. There are a bunch of great initiatives, some local, that encourage you to pick up rubbish and encourage others to do the same. Local initiatives include Take 3 For The Sea and Merewether Beach Clean.
Plant a Garden
Teaching children about food and how it ends up on the table is so important. Gardening is another hands-on activity that you can get your children involved in. While you may need to guide them, it’s an activity that they can easily participate in, giving you quality time, a chance to chat about good nutrition and the food process and (if all goes well) will give you some healthy vegetables or plants to use in cooking.
Bring Your Own Bottle
Say no to plastic water bottles! Invest in stainless steel or reusable drink bottles for your tribe and take them with you when you leave the house. It gives you a chance to talk to your kids about the problems with plastic and how to reduce, reuse and recycle!
Seek education for your children that aligns with your environmentally-friendly values. Your children spend a lot of time in an education setting, so it’s important that you find a preschool or school that values sustainability as much as you do and sees the importance of incorporating these values into their educational programs. Here are a few things to look out for when seeking a sustainable preschool or school:
Do they incorporate sustainability into their educational programs?
Businesses have cottoned on to the fact that consumers care about the environment and are vocal about their concerns. This means that a lot of businesses advertise these buzzwords “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, “Vegan”, however, don’t operate with these values. Learn more about a preschool or school’s curriculum and whether or not they actually value sustainability. Do they have their own veggie garden? Encourage the exploration of biodiversity and nature? Cater to vegan diets? Promote active transport? Have curriculum connections on recycling and avoiding food waste?
There are countless opportunities to incorporate sustainability in early childhood education, so if a school is advertising these values but not implementing them in their educational programs, they may not be as genuine and passionate about the issue as they say they are.
Make it Fun
While you’re wanting to educate your children, they’re not going to be interested and engaged if they’re bored. Just because you want to sit through a talk on sustainability at the local market, doesn’t mean your children will want to. Finding hands-on, practical ways to educate children is important. It’s important to note that everyone is on their own journey when it comes to sustainability and you should refrain from judgement- you don’t want to make your kids pretentious, you want them to be uplifting and encouraging, so it’s important you lead by example.
Teaching children about sustainability is all about making it fun, hands-on and practical, leading by example through your everyday habits.