GUEST POST: How to raise an environmentally conscious child

raise an environmentally conscious child

Pollution is a silent killer that society has just decided to ignore. If we don’t change our habits soon, the future of our planet Earth, our children’s home will be in dire straits. Normally, when we think of pollution, we think of Asia and India but pollution is a hidden evil in the UK. Just because we no longer see it in the streets and sewers does not mean it’s not there.

In fact, the UK produces about 335 million tonnes of waste a year.  But, that’s not all. There’s food waste too. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year. Around half of that could have been eaten. This equates to throwing away around £60 a month. If none of that food was wasted, it would be equal to removing four cars off the road.

Moreover, recycling rates have barely gone up. A European target of recycling 50 per cent of waste by 2020 will be missed. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the rate of recycling in English households from March 2014 to March 2015 was 44.7 per cent. This is up only 0.5 per cent since 2013. Yet, in London, the rate went down 0.8 per cent. This is London’s second year in a row for a decline.

These are just some of the sobering facts about our dearly loved country. Moreover, 38 per cent of the UK’s methane emissions come from landfill sites. And, methane is 23 time more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon. Think about this: tea bags end up in landfills–they eventually biodegrade, but without oxygen, they produce methane.

Yet, how can we teach our kids to be environmentally-conscious when we are living in a ‘throw-away’ society? How is this possible when everything around us produces garbage and contaminates the environment?

Plant seeds of knowledge

Children are wonderful at absorbing and imitating their surroundings, so give them something worthwhile to imitate. Many school systems in the UK are making great strides at teaching our youth about recycling and ways to stop polluting our planet. Yet, the most effective teachers are their parents. Teaching your children to be green is taught at home.

Children are naturally curious about everything and constantly are asking “Why?” and normally the answer leads to another “But, why?” These opportunities are little treasures, as it gives you an opportunity to explain to your kids why you are doing this and how it shows you care about earth. It plants little seeds of knowledge in their minds that they will never forget.

Studies have proven that humans are more likely to do something when we understand the reason behind the matter. We want our children to understand the why and how in caring for earth. So, let’s take the time to explain to our kids why and how they can be earth friendly. Your child will follow your example, not your advice.

Encourage good habits

Most parents know the value of rewarding their children for good behaviour. When we are rewarded for a doing good behaviour, it triggers something in our brains that tells us that this is a worthwhile behaviour. As a result, our brain encourages us to repeat the process again and again. After a while, it just becomes a habit, then a routine and finally part of our lifestyle.

We want our children to become environmentally conscious early on in their lives. We will need to teach them, that this is worthwhile behaviour. We might have to reward them in the beginning for doing a certain activity that is eco-friendly.

Choose activities that will enrich their appreciation for the earth and help them see how they can make a difference by doing these little things. Make it fun and practical, taking into consideration their age and attention span. The goal is to trigger their brains into seeing these activities as something beneficial for them, causing the desire to repeat the action.

Promote eco-friendly habits

Here are some fantastic suggestions to help your family be more environmentally-conscious.

  • Conserve energy: Teach your children to turn off the lights in the house. Before leaving the house, remind them to run through the house and check the lights. In the beginning, you will have to reward them but after a while, they will do it automatically. Teach them to turn off electronic devices when not using them, such as the TV. Use natural lighting or candles, whenever possible.
  • Walk instead of drive: Can you ride your bikes to the grocery store instead of driving? Look for options that allow your children to move about by using their energy and not this earth’s natural resources. Take the lead in walking or riding your bike instead of driving from point A to point B. You will see that the whole family will follow your example.
  • Recycle: Throughout most communities in the states, it is mandatory to recycle. Teach your kids how to recycle: sorting, rinsing and placing in the correct bins. Let them help you take the recycling bins out to the curb. Try to get them involved in the process.
  • Bottled drinks: Avoid drinking bottled water–plastic bottles is one of the biggest forms of waste in the UK. Let your kids choose a nice reusable water bottle at the store for them to use. Teach your children about how plastic bottles are killing of sea life and polluting the earth. There are some great documentaries online.
  • Compost: Kids love dirt, and composting is one of the best ways to teach your children how to give back correctly to the earth. Let them take out the kitchen scraps every day.
  • Volunteering: Teach your children to lend a hand. Maybe in your area, there are community programmes to clean up a local park or adopt a highway. Try to make these activities rewarding for your kids. The goal is for them to see that by lending a hand, they can make a difference in the earth’s future; their future.
  • Stop Consuming: We live in a throw-away society. Buy second-hand, and teach your kids to donate items they have outgrown to others.

These are just a few helpful ideas to help your kids to become more environmentally conscious. The key to having success is how much you will take the lead in being an example for your family in caring for the earth.

By engaging your kids and teaching them how and why they need to be environmentally conscious it will get them to start thinking about how they can make a difference. Show them daily, how little things can make a positive change for the future.

Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, but brick by brick. These small steps can help change the dire future of our earth and our children are the building blocks of tomorrow.

*This post was contributed by the team at Go Green.

Picture credit: Designed by Freepik

8 comments

  1. Fabulous post and such an important message. I live in Sweden where recycling and caring for the environment are second nature but I remember first moving here and being annoyed with my husband when he wanted me to separate the rubbish. Silly really, because it takes seconds, especially when we have designated buckets for everything! I think things are improving in the UK but as you say, baby steps!

  2. The easier it is to recycle, the more people are likely to do so. When on holiday in Europe last summer, every supermarket we went in seemed to have a bottle recycling machine that paid out per bottle recycled. I’m sure most kids would love to supplement their pocket money with a bit of recycling.

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