10 Ways to Raise Eco-Friendly Children
1. Spend Time in Nature
In an age when 4 year olds are taking selfies and playing with apps, we need to make sure that children of all ages get outside without technology. Go camping, hiking, to botanical gardens, or the park! People can only build a connection with the environment if they spend time in it. Otherwise, they may be asking, "Why should I care." This is especially helpful with younger children who don't have the ability to think globally yet.
2. Grow a Garden
Start with a seed and teach your child to help care for the plant. You could grow one plant or many- the message will be the same. With just a little attention you can grow something beautiful from "nothing".
3. Make Green Crafts
Reuse items from your home while spending time with your loved ones away from the T.V. There are so many fun crafts that can be done with glass jars, egg cartons, plastic containers, etc.
Here is the fun craft in the picture
Craft Reuse Plastic Bottles
Let the children help you sort and take them to the recycling center. Depending on the age, you could either make a game of it, or just stress how much they are helping the environment. This might also give them a sense of accomplishment- be sure to tell them how proud you are!
5. Explain Where Things Come From
While going through your day to day activities, when you use something, explain what it's made out of and how it's made. Explain that it takes energy to make these things and some resources that might not be renewable. You don't have to make them feel guilty, but if they are aware from a young age of their impact on the environment, it may help them consume less as they grow up.
6. Take Field Trips
This goes with number 5. Take the kids to the dump and show them where trash goes. Take them to the place where the water from the tap comes from and where the water down the drain goes. Show them that these are not just magical processes and that what we do matters.
7. Read Books With Environmental Topics
Below is a link to a few great environmental children's books. Other books about animals and nature are great too!
If you have a young adult, The Young Activist's Guide to building a Green Movement and Changing the World by Sharon Smith shares profiles of young activist who have made real change in their community or governmental policy and is also a guide for those wanting to make a change in their own school or community.
- Great Environmental Books For Kids Of All Ages
Environmental Children's books
8. Eat Whole & Natural Food
Take the kids to a farmers market for fresh produce, or better yet, to a farm. It's great for them to know where the food comes from and see some of the processes for developing it. Eating whole, natural foods also cuts back on chemicals, trash, and of course is much healthier for everyone!
9. Teach About Natural Science and Renewable Energy
The amount you go into detail will probably depend on the age of the child and how much you know. It can vary between, "We need plants to eat and breath." To the process of photosynthesis, geologic processes, and conservation biology. Do some research if you have to! Also, be sure to check out if your community has any programs and events related to science or the environment.
10. Lead By Example
Our children are watching our every move to learn what's normal and most of them witness us on our phones and computers almost constantly. If more time is spent doing things on this list, it will bring the family closer together and may also make little environmentalist who will make big changes when their time comes.