The key on how to teach your kids the importance of green living as with a lot of things in life: be an example to them. If you do it, they will follow.
I give you one example: when I first started to go to playgrounds with my son I always started straight away to clean up all the rubbish laying around. Not only because I find it important to protect our environment, but also to protect my son from picking things up and putting them in his mouth… He was about 2 years old when he started doing the same: first “clean” the playground and then play.
This leads me to another important point: fun and encouragement. Kids learn best when they are having fun. And part of having fun for a kid is praise which leads to them feeling encouraged in continuing.
So, this post doesn’t contain only tips on how to teach your kids the importance of green living, but tips on how to make it fun as well.
How to teach your kids the importance of green living – some facts:
Why we need to save water:
70% of our planet is made up of water, but only 3% is not salty, so we could use it. BUT, of those 3% we cannot use 2% as these are in the form of ice. Try to get your head around this! So, when explaining this little fact to your kids, tell them as well that water is our most precious resource next to air and that it is very important to make sure that it lasts. And it´s not only us who need water: plants and animals need it as well.
Climate change and it´s impacts:
This summer has been extremely hot in many countries. If you have followed the news with your kids or if you live in one of those countries, then here is a chance to explain to them the importance of us trying to make a positive change. With the heat came fires, water shortages, people and animals suffered, farmers could not get their crop to grow properly, so food shortage… Then now you can see a different impact we have on our climate in India. In case you havent seen the news: India had it´s worst flood in 100 years displacing about 800,000 people and more than 1,000 people have died. You don´t have to tell your kids these numbers, if you think they are still too young, but use the news as examples.
Climate change and it´s impact on the icecaps:
My son asked me the other day if polar bears could swim and I wanted to know why he was asking. Well, mum, if all the ice melts, can a polar bear swim or will it die? I explained, that they can swim, but not forever and that they need somewhere to go. Kids see things with different eyes than we do, but if it gives you a chance to explain or you see that they understood what you are trying to teach, then that´s brilliant. The ice melting will have an effect on many animals like polar bears, some seals, some penguins as they need ice to give birth…
Let´s get some facts together: Antarctica has about 90% of the world´s ice. It extends to almost 14 million square kilometers – this is about the size of Mexico and the US combined. If all of it´s ice melted, the sea level would rise by 200 feet! This would cause the disappearance of many mayor cities in the world. According to scientists at the US Center for Atmospheric Research the Arctic will be free of ice by 2040, if the current rate of global temperature rise continues. This is only 22 years from now! (they have a counter as well showing the tons of ice melted this year so far)
Deforestation and it´s impact:
Every year a lot of trees get cut down which never get replaced. Those trees would be very important to clean our air and to give shelter, food etc. to animals. Did you know that bees are an endangered species now? Instead they get cut down to produce palm oil, furniture, paper or for building plots.
Although paper is not the main product from those trees, here are some facts to teach your kids not to waste it: a cord of wood 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet produces 90,000 sheets of bond-quality paper or 2,700 copies of a 35-page newspaper.
How to teach your kids the importance of green living – activities:
Get your kids involved in recycling:
Take or send them to the glass container, let them help you sort the recycling or give them the responsibility over one of the recycling bins. Make it fun and easy for them.
Visit a local farm:
If you live in the countryside, this should be very easy to do. A fun activity to plan in advance as well if you live in the city are visits to a farm where you can pick the produce yourself. Where I used to live, there were strawberry farms you could go and pick your own. You then pay by weight. Here it is oranges. This will not only be a lot of fun, but it also teaches your kids a lot about healthy eating, looking after plants and animals and nature.
Plan a green holiday:
Many hotels now offer green activities for kids, so look for one of those when you plan your next holiday. Or book a holiday on a farm, more and more farms are offering this option now too.
Next time you are sorting things out to donate, involve your kids and take them with you to see where their toys, clothes etc. go. They will be much more willing to give them away when they see what they get used for.
Teach your kids that life is precious:
As an example: I hate spiders, but when we spot a spider in the house, I always find a way to get it out unharmed and alive. I want to give a good example to our son. I our house the only living things that get killed are mosquitoes. Anything else we try to get rid off naturally, no chemical sprays, nothing. Should we have a really big spider one day, chances are that me and my son will run out of the house instead of the spider…
Make your own bird feeder with your kids
Then watch the birds come to it in winter. You don´t even need a garden for this. Making it and then watching the birds will give your kids enthusiasm.
Grow a bean stork with them:
Cut a plastic bottle to make a pot, fill it with earth, place a bean, water the earth and cover it again with the rest of the bottle to keep the moisture in. Beans grow very quick, so it will keep their interest. Don´t forget to take the top off once you see your bean grow.
Find fun repurposing and upcycling projects to do with them:
I give you a few examples of easy to do crafts my son has done at summer camp:
- They created a vertical garden out of bottles on the fence;
- They made seed bombs;
- From a plastic bottle, an old towel and a rubber band they created. All you need is a bowl of water with a drop of washing up liquid. Dip the cloth part in and then low through the other side.
- Using bottle tops and toilet roll carton, they created fun animals like this one:
Another way on how to teach your kids the importance of green living: Food waste is a big problem today with us throwing away tons of good food every day.