The Millennial and Gen Z generations have a strong interest in environmentalism, more than any other generation before. And with this new wave of eco-consciousness comes a desire and a push for more literacy and awareness surrounding sustainability. While there are many ways to increase awareness, one of the best methods is to start teaching children at a young age so they can grow up already having an appreciation for the environment and how to take care of it.
Though younger Gen Zs and Millennials might not yet have children, many do, and one of their primary concerns is knowing how best to raise children who understand the importance of sustainability. Though environmentalism can seem like an overwhelming topic to discuss with young kids, there are many fun and easy ways you can help your kids learn to become eco-conscious without giving them a lecture about climate change.
Lead By Example
One of the best ways to teach your kids about environmental awareness and sustainability is to lead by example. Children are like sponges. They watch and absorb everything we do and say. Sometimes, you don’t even have to sit them down and have a discussion with them for them to learn the importance of sustainable habits—they will simply pick up on them by watching you.
If you make a habit of recycling, turning off lights when you leave the room, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, and other eco-conscious habits, your kids will mimic you. Eventually, they will start to pick up on why these habits are important and may even ask you questions about why you do them, which can lead to conversations about sustainability.
Start a Garden and Compost Pile
Gardening and composting are fun ways to teach kids about environmentalism because they are more active and immersive experiences that let them get their hands dirty. It’s also an excellent way to help them learn responsibility. After you’ve planted your garden with them, teach them the importance of watering the plants to help them grow.
This can also lead to conversations about why we need to take care of nature so it can continue to provide for us. And the compost pile can help them learn about food waste and how not everything needs to be tossed out but instead can be reused for other purposes.
Take Them Camping
Another excellent way to immerse your kids in nature is to take them camping. Camping helps kids learn to love and appreciate nature, which in turn will help them understand the importance of sustainability. It’s a great opportunity to let them explore nature and learn about living off the land in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the environment.
If a camping trip seems like too much, you can always opt for a staycation and camp out in your own backyard. Backyard camping is great when you have little ones who aren’t ready for a big trip or if you simply want to have a fun last-minute adventure that requires minimal effort. Even in your yard, there are lots of things you can do and talk about to help your kids learn about nature. You can even practice leave-no-trace camping.
Turn Sustainable Habits into Games
If you are struggling to get your kids interested, consider making a game out of learning sustainable habits. For example, you can use small bins to make a game out of recycling, and the first person to fill their bin wins. Or make a chart that lists various eco-conscious practices, and whenever they accomplish one, put a star next to their name. At the end of the week or the month, you can reward them based on how many stars they earned.
Eventually, your kids will grow out of expecting a reward every time they do something good for the environment. Instead, they will simply do these things out of habit because they know it’s the right thing to do.
Go on Bike Rides
Going on family bike rides is a fun activity all on its own, but the reward is that it can help your children learn that you don’t always need a car to get around. When they are little, you can start by just riding around the neighborhood, but as they get older, you can take them on short trips to nearby stores just to pick up one or two small items. This can open their eyes to the various methods of transportation and how some are better than others.
Take Them to Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets can be lively and have entertainment for kids to enjoy, but they are also an excellent way to teach your kids about the importance of shopping local and eating locally sourced foods. You can talk to them about how the vendors might have farms or gardens like yours and how it’s good to support your local community so they can continue to grow food and make a living.
Teaching kids to appreciate nature and understand sustainability is all about making it fun. While some kids might have a natural inclination towards learning about nature and the environment, others might need a little help. Using games and activities like the ones listed above can make the process of learning environmental awareness more enjoyable, so they build healthy habits and learn to appreciate the earth as they get older.
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