10 Tips for helping kids & teens to grow a greener lifestyle! - Social Seeds

10 Tips for helping kids & teens to grow a greener lifestyle!

Did you know that almost every action we take has an environmental impact? No matter how small, everything we do adds up and affects our planet. That’s why it’s important for kids and teens to learn about sustainability and environmentally friendly practices at a young age. Here are 10 tips for helping them get started!

1. Teach your child how to save energy!

For children to appreciate the cost and power of electricity, they need to understand more about it. Discuss how privileged we are to have electricity to give us light, warmth, information, and entertainment etc. Explain to them where it comes from, how it works and what it costs (both us and the environment).

Electric appliances consume energy, even when they are turned off. Teaching children to unplug their gaming systems, computers, chargers, or audio equipment will save a lot of energy. And encourage them to switch off the lights as they leave a room. When this becomes a habit in your family, you will be surprised how your child will monitor and control all the switches in the house!

2. Plant a garden or get a houseplant... or five!

Taking care of plants is a small step to get closer to nature. Everyday routine activities like watering, cleaning, removing unnecessary leaves, learning the needs of each plant, and tracking their growth create a bond with your child and help them develop a love for nature. The household will also benefit from cleaner more oxygenated air inside as an added bonus too!

Having a small family garden is also a wonderful idea. Not only will you have your own green space to have fun in, but your child will learn the value of growing their own food and to appreciate nature. Teach kids how to grow plants from kitchen scraps; you can regrow entire vegetables from the cut-offs you’d usually throw away! You will not only save money but will reduce pollution from food packaging too.

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3. Explore the outdoors!

Both greener views and surroundings, as well as time spent within green spaces, offer children numerous mental, physical, and social developmental benefits, and encourage their growth into being more ecologically aware and responsible humans. Take your child on a nature walk or go swimming at the beach or perhaps go exploring by a local river. Let them get to know and understand how pleasurable outdoors can be. Camping or picnics are also a great way to spend time together outside.

4. Be water smart!

Although 71% of the Earth's surface is covered with water, clean drinking water resources are increasingly limited. This leads to water shortages/restrictions and the spread of infectious diseases. Teach your child to use water wisely. When brushing their teeth, turn off the tap, take shorter showers, use the half flush on the toilet when possible. Encourage them to carry tap water in reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Collect rainwater to water lawns, plants, or even for your pets drinking water.

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5. Walk or ride a bike instead of driving!

Travelling by car is comfortable and fast, but it’s also harmful for the environment. The role of automobile transport in air pollution is enormous. If your child’s school is not far, try accompanying them on foot. If they already go to school on their own, perhaps offer to go by bicycle. Maybe ride or walk to the local shops or take public transport the next time you go out as a family. Walking and cycling are not only good for the environment but also for the healthy development of your children.

6. Be creative and recycle when getting crafty!

Children of all ages love the process of creating something new. Making new things from old and useless things is a unique way to recycle. There is plenty of new stuff you can make from plastic, polyethene, and paper/card waste. You can find a lot of ideas on the internet. This will show your child that not everything needs to be thrown into the bin and that there are exciting and creative alternatives. In our family we love using old tyres as little garden beds, old milk containers for hanging pot plants and toilet rolls for making paper dolls/characters for a puppet show or parade!

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7. Teach everyone to do laundry the eco way!

It is advised to always try and fully load the washing machine instead of running several small loads a day. Use cold water or low-temperatures and an eco-friendly detergent to significantly reduce the negative impact on the environment. And try to remember to hang it out once it’s done, to avoid needing to re-wash!

8. Sort waste together!

You will inspire your child a lot if you let them assist you in waste sorting. Introduce your child to your family’s sorting rules and talk to them about the importance of waste sorting. You can investigate different types of waste according to their size, material, and local bin collections. Spend time cleaning and organising recycled waste and non-recyclables into respective bins. Start a compost bin for food waste (also creates great soil and fertiliser for gardens and plants). Perhaps you could even start collecting cans or bottles to drop into a collection centre for some pocket money!

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9. Raise kids that understand the deeper impact of everyday choices!

Take time to explain to your kids why you do things the way that you do them (eg. recycling trash). Once they’re in the groove, they’ll start pointing out better, more conscientious ways to do things that you hadn’t considered before and it will make your day!

Encourage climate change questions, even if you can't always answer them! Children of all ages are driven by scientific curiosity, awareness, and yes even a sense of responsibility. When they're seeking answers to big questions, you can embark with them on the hunt. Start teaching children about where to find trusted resources for climate science information, but also what disinformation is out there. But do be careful not to dump too much information as it can become overwhelming! It can lead to a sense of futility or unrealistic expectations.

Don’t be afraid to let your child educate you on climate change too. They may well be more aware of the latest research on fossil fuels and lighting alternatives when it comes to climate change than you are! We can all learn from our children and should listen to their thoughts and ideas.

10. Make the sustainable swap!

Where possible try and swap for the eco-friendly alternative. This could be the paper bags, metal/silicone/bamboo straws and cutlery, wooden or fabric toys, bamboo toothbrush etc. rather than plastic.

Compostable or biodegradable garbage bags, glad wrap, baking paper, packaging etc.

Re-fillable eco-friendly cleaning products, soaps, shampoos etc. Or even shampoo/soap bars!

Eco-friendly options for sanitary items; menstrual cups, period underwear and reusable pads etc.

Cloth nappies vs disposable.

There are now lots of different alternatives to try and make the swap with these days, will you make the swap?

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Last but not least...

Monkey see, monkey do! We’ve all heard this saying during our parenting journey, and it’s true! We adults need to lead by example; take care of nature, lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, and our children will learn to love and care for the planet too!

Even if your children don’t make all these changes on their own, remember every little bit counts and by starting early and modelling the behaviour yourself, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of making greener choices. Even if you start with just one of these tips, it’s a great way to get started on the path to raising environmentally responsible children!

Together, we can create a greener tomorrow for our planet and its inhabitants.

What are some ways that you help your kids live a greener lifestyle?

Let us know in the comments below.


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