Going Green? Start ‘Em Young
In our world today there are still several generations living that gave (or still do give) little thought to being green and living sustainably. For the older generations, possibly it was due more to the fact that they were simply trying to survive and did what they could to make a life for themselves.
However, today there are numerous ways to go green, and in many cases doing so is not only more socially acceptable, but is also more economically feasible with more win-win scenarios making their way into our culture all of the time. The best way to go green, though, like any other habit, is to start young. Children are our future, and helping them to go green is not only in our best interest for our ecosystem today, but will obviously be for their best future good as well.
Here are 5 ways to help children to become more eco-conscious and live sustainably:
Be an Example – First, and foremost, as a parent or other influential adult it’s important to be an example. It’s imperative to show children that green initiatives are important to you.
What green practices do you engage in? Are you paying lip service to being friendly to the environment, or are your actions truly congruent with what you say you believe? Just like Show & Tell in a classroom setting is fun and engaging for children to participate in, it’s also the most meaningful way for kids to be taught your own green ethics. If you make a claim to your children that we as humans make too much waste, make sure you are backing that up with practices such as having reusable grocery bags, lowering your carbon footprint by walking and bicycling instead of driving everywhere, recycling, and upcycling among many other alternatives.
Play Green – Kids love to learn with play, and it’s a great way to reinforce concepts. Using their imaginations and inventing or creating their fun by harmonizing with nature is a great way for children to spend time. Here is one example of how you can encourage your children to “play green”.
Kids love to make noise, so guide them to use their talents by creating their “compositions” using natural elements instead of buying them plastic and easily breakable gadgets that aren’t sustainable. And how about building a birdfeeder by upcycling a milk jug? There are lots of green activities that you can engage your children in.
Green Rewards – Kids (and people in general) reinforce habits by reward. By rewarding the children in your circle of influence (your own kids and/or those you lead) with green rewards, their good behavior will not only be reinforced by a reward, but they’ll begin to better comprehend the importance of green products and how you personally feel about them.
As an example of a fun green reward, check out this fun Green Seed Bomb by Green Aid. You can also make some of your own green rewards or maybe you’ll choose to purchase some fair trade products to give out as a reward or incentive.
Help them be a Leader – When children lead out in something they feel important. If your child can share his or her green knowledge with a circle of friends who may not understand the green ethic, you now have an influencer who can spread good information just by being himself or herself. Kids like to be the “first” at something, and if your child can naturally present something to a friend or other group of children it can go a long way to increasing your child’s self-esteem and sense of purpose.
Prepare your child with small and simple ideas and ways that he or she can introduce green living concepts to friends – nothing overbearing or preachy – just something that could be asked about by naturally curious children, which then opens up the door for further explanation. Perhaps some cool-looking upcycled jewelry could be just the trick as a conversation starter.
Engage their curiosity – Children love to be entertained and in such a way that their curiosity is piqued. Take your children on field trips where they can engage in green hands-on activities. You never know, the types of field trips you take the children on may spark their imagination and guide them towards a future career involving sustainability. Helping children to realize that products can be created and enclosures can be built that are eco-friendly can change their perspective about the green economy and that demand is there for sustainable consumerism.
Using the five points above to help a child go green can be life-changing for the better. Remember, children are our future, and habits they create now will affect them for the rest of their lives.