How to Teach Your Children to be Environmentally Responsible

In the last ten years, talk of environmental issues has become more prevalent and many citizens are doing their part to “save the earth”.  If you watch TV, read magazines, or listen to the radio, you’ve certainly heard about global warming, solar energy, and hybrid vehicles.  This is beneficial for our dear Mother Earth and it is a prime time to begin teaching our children about being environmentally responsible to ensure continued progress in environmental restoration.   

The majority of schools do not educate children on sustainability or “going green” so unless children are fortunate enough to have environmental friendly parents, they just may be oblivious to the environmental issues that face the environment today.

The earth is absolutely beautiful.  It can hardly be argued that trees, flowers, mountains, oceans, and so many other natural wonders can bring a sense of majesty and serenity when gazed upon and experienced.  As parents, we have the great privilege of setting great examples of how to be good stewards of our earth and teach our children as much as possible about environmental issues.

There are many learning activities and adventures that will help children become concerned about Mother Earth but it does take time and effort.  Little by little and step by step though, we can introduce stewardship and sustainable living to our children.

Here are 10 things you can do to raise environmental friendly kids

  1. Be excited yourself about our beautiful earth.

If you are excited about nature and taking care of our earth, chances are your children will be too.  Perhaps your love of nature will ignite your child’s passion as well.  Let them observe you take the time to sit outside and acknowledge the birds sing.  Rave about the breathtaking view of the sunset or the mountains. Take them for walks and point out beautiful flowers and insects.  Be free to express your love and appreciation of such a marvelous planet.

  1. Recycle

This is very easy to begin and important to help our environment by reducing waste and pollution.  If you do not have recycle bins, many city garbage collectors will give them to you for free.  You can also purchase bins or barrels.  Teach your children that recycling is worth the time and effort.  Additionally, you can teach them that clothes and toys can be recycled as well by giving them to friends or the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

  1. Give opportunities for your child to interact with nature.

Children learn a great deal hands on.  Take them for nature walks discuss and encourage them to draw pictures of interesting things they see.  Let them feed the ducks and the birds.  You may also want to take them camping. Most children love the experience of “roughing it” in nature, experiencing a campfire and going on a scavenger hunt.

  1. Plant trees, flowers, and a garden with your child.

Most children would love the opportunity to get outside and plant things with you. You can teach them about sowing and reaping as you do.

  1. Start a compost pile.

To begin a compost pile, you simply add organic material in a bin or pile and keep it moist and aerated, and it will decompose into a rich, nutritious soil that is beneficial to our earth and especially good soil for gardening.  Teach your children that instead of throwing away fruit and vegetable leftovers, they can add it to the compost pile.  Throw some leaves and grass into the mixture and stir it up occasionally and that’s all there is to it.  There are other ingredients that are good for compost as well such as egg shells and coffee grinds.  Read up on composting and begin your pile today!

  1. Take your children to locally owned stores to buy organic food.

Explain to your children that shopping locally at stores that are independently owned helps our environment as well by strengthening the local economy, reducing energy and fostering community.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are fresher and organic foods do not have the harmful pesticides that many large chain stores do.  Don’t forget to take reusable bags with you.

  1. Read books and familiarize them with environmental terms such as:

           Global warming                                        species extinction

           Deforestation                                            preservation

           Fossil fuel depletion                                  solar energy

           Sustainability                                            water conservation

Great books for elementary age children include:

The Complete Backyard Nature Activity Book by Robin Michal Koontz
Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals by Patricia Laubery
Be A Friend To Trees by Steve Jenkins
Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals
The Down-To-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon

  1. Make a collage of environmental and sustainable images.

Most children love to make a collage.  Encourage them to write a title on the poster board such as “I love the earth!” or “Go green!” and cut out images and words to add.  You can use magazines as well as print out images from your computer for this project.   

  1. Make a solar oven.

Making a solar oven with your child will teach them about the power of the sun’s energy and how we can harness it to cook our food. Utilizing solar ovens reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.  You can build a simple solar oven or a more complex one.  There are wonderful instructions at http://solarcooking.org/plans/, and all you need are basic items around your house to construct one such as cardboard, tape, and aluminum foil.

  1. Green your home together.

You can also teach them how to be green around the home. For example, instead of going the traditional route for a hot water tank, consider putting in a tankless water heater, as they help conserve water.

Make a list with your children of things you can do around your home to live “green”.

Include things like use energy-saving light bulbs, re-chargeable batteries, and earth-friendly cleaning products, and low flow shower heads.

Raising environmentally friendly children is well worth the effort and will give parents and children a sense of responsibility toward taking care of what we have been freely given as a blessing.  If everyone does their part, environmental degradation will decrease and people will live sustainable lives as good stewards of Mother Earth. Now this is something to be proud of.

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