As parents, we all worry about our planet and what will happen for future generations to come, especially our kids. The answer lies in living sustainable lives, and to teach our kids all about sustainability so that they can not only understand the importance of living a sustainable life, but they can also do their bit to help our planet. Sustainability is a way of thinking and living, and we want to teach our kids to care for the planet and others, and also to feel empowered that they can make a difference.
Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is all about living within the means of the planet, so that future generations, our kids, needs may also be met. There is certainly a lot of media attention focused on what is happening to our planet, and from what we hear, we’re heading for disaster, what with climate change and depleting natural resources amongst other things. There is one thing we know for sure about our future and that is that the lifestyles we live today, and have taken for granted, can’t be sustained for much longer.
Living Sustainable Lives for our Kids
Never before have lyrics rang so true as, “I believe our children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” They are without a doubt our future and the only way that we can really and truly equip our children for living sustainable lives, is to live sustainable lives ourselves. We can’t just talk the talk about sustainable living; we need to walk the walk too, for them to truly appreciate why sustainable living is so important.
We also can’t leave the teaching of sustainable living to schools and the media; we need to implement this into our daily lives. There was a study of Finnish kids recently, which found that while they had a general awareness and empathy for environmental problems that are taught at school, they still had no idea on what they could personally do to help our planet. That just goes to show that we need to live it and breathe it in our homes, and lead by example.
How to Teach your Kids about Sustainable Living
Well, first and foremost, as we’ve mentioned before, the best way to teach our kids this important lesson is to live a sustainable life, for them to grasp the concept and carry it through to the future.
We live in a world of high consumption of everything that involves natural resources, from using our cars for every little trip to turning on all the electronics in the house, to eating fast food and buying mass produced goods. Leading a simpler life will help you and your kids to start leading a sustainable life.
Here are a few ideas for you to teach your kids about sustainable living.
- Help them to unplug and switch off, explaining how consumption can affect the planet. This might be hard at first, but once they realise the benefits, they will have a deeper understanding of why we need to consume less. Get the kids outside, show them the simple pleasures in life, take part and you’ll all be leading a simpler life already. Also make sure that recycling, using less water and power become part of your daily lives.
- Try and expose your kids to different cultures, in order for them to see how other people live sustainable lives. This is a real experience that is likely to strike a chord with them, and they can meet new friends too!
- Children have a special affinity toward animals, and viewing the world through a furry or feathery lens might capture the imaginations of young minds. As you watch with them, teach your kids that Mother Nature and the animal kingdom depend on us and our choices to help them live healthy lives. It’s a well-known fact that kids who are brought up in close positive contact with animals are naturally more connected to other living creatures. Consider volunteering together at a wildlife caring centre or a pet shelter; maybe even keep hens, earthworms, frogs or other pets too.
- Get the kids involved in what you’re doing through simple household tasks like recycling and using natural cleaning products are a great start. They can help you with this. One task that kids of all ages will want to be involved in is helping out with the family garden. Teach them about composting and why you should grow your own organic vegetables and herbs. Seeing food on the plate that came from seeds they planted is a big thrill for a kid, as well as a great lesson in sustainability.
- Help them be sensitive to the environment by engaging in outdoor activities, as this helps them feel more connected to nature. One study (Irmeli Palmburg, 1996) showed that kids who spent time doing outdoor activities showed far more empathy to nature than those who didn’t. While outdoors exploring all that nature has to offer, try to encourage your kids to experience the wonder by looking at ordinary things in great detail – a leaf, a snail crossing the trail, the underside of a fern, life under a rock. So get outdoors in a natural setting and have some nature fun! Another way to help them to explore nature and the environment is to let them watch some educational programmes aimed at kids about our environment…in this instance you’re allowed to plug the TV in! This way they can gain an appreciation of the world around us too. Some good examples are “March of the Penguins,” or “Planet Earth“n might grab their attention a little better.
- Eat natural, by either growing your own or by buying goods from a farmers market instead of big supermarkets. You can explain to them that you’re helping the people around the community as well as saving on things like packaging, and reducing the use of pesticides, that can harm the environment.
Here’s to a bright new world for our kids and a healthy, clean sustainable life for your family. Enjoy the challenge and you can all make a difference.