Secrets to Raising Eco-Friendly Kids
Kids may be the future, but at the state in which populations are currently decimating the Earth and use its resources, they may not inherit much of anything by the time they reach adulthood. Pointing fingers as to who’s to blame for this environmental mess won’t help. Now is the right time to get yourself and your kids more involved in saving the Earth.
Teaching kids about topics as broad (yet relevant) as the environment and climate change, and processes as complex as groundwater remediation solutions and zero valent iron water treatment, can be a daunting challenge for any parent. Even adults have difficulty understanding these topics at times.
However, by helping them become familiar with and interested in the basics while they are young, you are instilling a behavior that is beneficial to the Earth’s survival.
1. Get their minds working
Looking at your kids right now, you may wonder how you can get them to understand what it means to be eco-friendly. But kids’ minds are like sponges. They may not be able to instantly understand everything that you say or express themselves fluently, but by talking more about these topics, they will pick up more information along the way. Over time, they will start to make connections and get a deeper understanding of environmental concepts and issues.
They may be kids, but you don’t need to go as far as inventing characters as Mr. Acid Rain or oversimplify topics to the extreme. Instead of telling children how trees can magically suck all of the pollution away, try the following teaching methods:
Use terms as they are and provide an explanation. For example, you can define the term greenhouse effect and explain how it happens.
Build on previous knowledge
With kids, you may start with more basic topics, like explaining how sunlight is important for plants for producing food. As they get older, you can provide more in-depth information. Perhaps you can explain how the plant converts the energy from the sun.
Think of everyday situations that you can use to explain environmental concepts. For instance, you can compare the concept of wasting water and the world’s resources as similar to spending all of your money and savings before your next allowance arrives.
Indicate causal relationships
Educate kids on the importance of their actions. Even something as seemingly harmless as leaving empty candy wrappers anywhere can clog drains or end up in the oceans. You can also explain how their decisions and actions could affect the health of all living things.
Given the previous example, turtles in the wild might accidentally swallow the candy wrappers, shortening their life span.
You can use typical household chores to explain basic environmental concepts. For instance, let kids help you hang the laundry outdoors. Use this simple task to teach kids about the sun and what you can do with its energy. If you have a garden, you could use it as an opportunity to teach them about the benefits of eating organic produce.
2. Ask for their opinion
Allow kids to share their opinions. Let them make suggestions on what practices the family can follow to become more eco-friendly. By letting them express their opinions and listening to their perspective, you are encouraging them to think more about these topics.
As a result, they will develop a more personal and deeper commitment to protecting the environment and living a more eco-friendly lifestyle as they get older.
3. Get everybody involved
It’s not enough to get your kids to care about the environment. You have to walk the talk as well. Look for opportunities where you and your family can participate in environmental efforts.
Start with your local community. Look for recycling drives, cleanups or similar activities. By signing up and getting your family involved, you are showing your kids a good example and letting them know how important saving the environment is for your family as well.
You can even encourage your kids’ friends to go with you. Other than becoming a positive influence to your kids’ friends, these childhood pals could also provide some encouragement to your child in the future. You could invite them to join cleanups or beautification days.
Another idea is to make family gatherings more fun. For instance, you can set a day wherein kids can create their own recycled art.
4. Save on resources
Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle can help save the Earth’s resources. In the process, your family gets to save money, too.
It can be as simple as switching from using alkaline batteries to rechargeable types, or encouraging kids to use both sides of a piece of paper when drawing.
Some activities may require a little more effort to accomplish. For instance, if you have gotten used to driving yourself to work, then biking or walking to your office will entail some practice. Not only is ditching the drive more beneficial for the environment, but the exercise can help make you fitter and healthier as well.
It may take a while before you see the results of your efforts in teaching your kids about environmental issues and follow a more eco-friendly lifestyle. However, by following these secret tips, you are instilling positive habits into your kids. Once you get them into the habit, they will grow up to become more environmentally conscious and responsible adults.
Patrick Randall is the Vice President of National Sales at Hepure Technologies. He holds a BS in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from CSUS. He has been working in the environmental and bioremediation space since graduating in 1986.