Most children know about green issues – surprisingly even better than most adults do. Kid’s curiosity about the nature gives them an innate empathy for Mother Earth, for the plights of the plants and animals within it, and often for the conditions faced by children in poorer countries. When your children feel or believe that they can do a few things to make a difference, they may go to it with sincerity and enthusiasm.
A good way to teach our kids to live in a green way is – by showing consideration and care for the environment, animals, plants and other people with whom they need to peacefully share the world. When children see you picking up garbage from the park dropped by other visitors, they will see value in keeping the environment clean. When they find that you are volunteering your time, mind and effort for worthy causes, they see that repaying the society is important and worthwhile. From walking them occasionally to school to looking for ways to limit your family’s trash, all choices that you make, teach your children in making green choices, too. Asking them to take part in the decision-making process can teach them in how to make increasingly important green decisions. In fact, if they grow up cleaner and greener, sustainable lifestyle will easily come to them, giving them the chance to pass a better way of life along to colleagues, friends, and more importantly their own children – a long-lasting, very positive ripple effect.
Even younger children can gain much appreciation for environment and what they need to do protect it. Go outside with them on the weekend and show them the wonders of the world, from daisies to caterpillars to grass. Explain that the Earth is theirs to savor and protect; their resolve to safeguard it may come naturally.
Each time you make your life greener in home, you should explain how it will affect your home and the world. Lead by example, and they will likely adopt your lifestyle far more promptly than if you were asking them by words.
Older kids may want to be involved with green activities, for example organizing recycling at home and cleaning up their neighborhood, because they have learned about issues on environment problems at school. If they are not particularly enthusiastic, however, you should convince them by scheduling family-time activities that you can do together, for example:
Choose a more active lifestyle. Bike, walk, and play in the park with your children at least on the weekend.
Choose for public transportation. Cars should only be used when necessary; otherwise, show a commitment to using public transportation by taking buses and trains with your kids.
Ask for their assistance. Younger children are especially prouder and happier to contribute to adults activities. Have them pick up buckets of leaves and vegetable scraps to the composting area, you can also ask them to help dig out shallow holes for garden beds.
Introduce them to farms. Take children with you to places like plantations and farms where you can show them that foods don’t just magically appear on the supermarket shelves.
Introduce them to animal life. Zoos offer priceless educational and conservation lessons. (Most zoos are involved in conservation projects to help save endangered species). By visiting a zoo, it will help your kids understand global issues and look for a zoo that is actively involved in environment-related programs.
Set up a small home garden and get your children involved. It is the place where the entire family can practice in being green. If you live in an apartment or small house, you may plant in boxes and pots to grow herbs and vegetables.
Limit gifts. Opt for durable, well-made, higher quality toys. Talk to friends and family members about not overwhelming kids with too many gifts at Christmas and considering giving only one meaningful gift. Encourage children to donate things they no longer need to other children.
Promote conservation at home. Let children know that resource-conserving lifestyle, for example turning off water when washing the dishes and switching off lights when leaving the room are important – and occasionally rewarded. Parents don’t need to become a paragon of green-living overnight, and you should not expect your kids to do that either. At first, go for things that are easiest to change and increase the complexity gradually, and the whole family will soon live greener without too much of an effort.
Children love it when they know something more than their parents, so give them the opportunity to take charge on certain aspects of environmental policies at home, and they will likely love the responsibility.
Depending on their maturity levels and ages, you should ask your kids to do these things:
o Plan healthy diet by using some of the vegetables, spices or herbs from your home garden.
o Find things around the house to recycle or reuse, such as using the blank side of computer-printed papers for making notes.
o Sort through their old toys that can be donated to orphans and other less-fortunate children.
o Ask them to donate part of their monthly allowances to help poorer communities nearby or abroad.
o Shop for secondhand clothes to ensure that they are comfortable with used or recycled items. Don’t wait until they’re teenagers as you will find it harder to convince them.
o Set up composter bins and containers for recyclable items to allow for easier recycling efforts.