Many people find their children's future motivational when considering the impact that they are leaving on this planet. Though some environmental effects are more direct and immediate, others take time to compound and feel, creating the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. However, when you put it into the perspective of the lifespan of your children and their children, many are willing to evaluate their footprint on the planet.
But apart as using our little ones as motivation, we should also be raising them to be environmentally responsible members of society. They are our future and our hope, and for now it's up to us to communicate all our knowledge and passion to them.
Though the topic can be a large one to address and pass on to our kids, there are some easy ways to incorporate environmental values to our kids through everyday habits and chores.
Here are just some ideas that we love and thought were worth sharing:
1. Sorting Duty
Taking out the garbage should be a "chore of the past", just like rewinding VCR tapes or churning butter. The chore of the present is "sorting duty". From a young age, kids should be taught how to properly sort the trash, adhering to the practises in your area. At first, it's important to watch and correct any mistakes, but after a while, it will become second nature to them. Afterwards you can branch out to taking the organics to the composter in the yard and the recycling into a bigger bin. But for now, teach them that this is "normal" and you'll find that they will be as (or even more) bewildered as you are when in a situation where there is only one bin for everything.
2. Instilling a Love of Nature
There's a lot of ethics involved with environmentalism, and it takes a certain level of maturity to be able to comprehend it all. But if from a young age we can pass on a love and appreciation of nature, it's easier to explain why we do things the way we do. Help them learn the local species in your region, explore all the different trees and plants, enroll them in programs where they can learn to love and protect nature. So next time they ask why you use special laundry detergent, you can reply, "because it's better for the frogs and their habitat." Kids will understand this logic much better.
3. Supply them with Their Tools
Kids love gadgets and tools, things which validate what they are doing. The more personal they are, the more exciting to the little person. By involving them with their own reusable bottles, straws, lunch bags, recycle bins and more, you make the process of being zero waste and environmentally friendly more exciting. It's even more exciting when they get to be part of the selection process!
4. Hanging Laundry
Summer is a great time to put this chore into rotation with the older kids. Now that the weather is better and the temperatures are higher, it's time to be more energy efficient and air-dry your laundry. Hanging, and then later taking down and folding, is a sustainable habit to instill into your children. Just make sure that you communicate the benefits, or else it will only just seem like a worthless hassle.
5. Cleaning with Natural Products
Whether you make your own or buy all-natural cleaning products, get your kids involved in household cleaning as early as possible. When the cleaners are non-toxic, there are no worries about negative effects on their little bodies, and they might even enjoy helping you bring your home to a sparkling clean condition!
Kids like mimicking the behaviour of adults they see. Take advantage of this phase to plant the seed of change in their minds. Later on, they will consider all the sustainable steps the status-quo, and hopefully integrate them into their own lives, building on it and in turn inspiring our generation.