Kids are like sponges, especially the younger they are. They’re so intrigued to learn about everything around them and their excitement can be contagious and tiring! Of course, there are some things that, as parents, we’d hope they wouldn’t explore like the Sudocream tub or kitty litter tray. But we take the good with the bad.
It’s this excitement for learning that opens the door to introducing sustainable living for children. Our planet relies on sustainable practices to be handed down and what better time to start than right now.
How to identify sustainable practices in your home
You might think that sustainable living is hard and can only be done by big corporations with lots of money. But that’s not true at all. It’s actually really easy to start living sustainably and you might even be doing some of the things already without realising.
Quick wins include:
- creating a compost area
- upcycling old clothes and toys
- building your own veggie patch
- Reusing plastic bottles and cardboard boxes for art and craft sessions
- Choosing products with packaging that has less of an environmental footprint e.g. buying your bananas loose instead of in the plastic tubs wrapped with another layer of plastic.
How to get the kids involved without arguments
As we said, the younger your kids the more excited they’re going to be joining you in your family’s path to a sustainable life. But, even if your kids are slightly older, you’ll be surprised how intrigued they’ll be to learn and participate as well.
Set small goals
Kids can get overwhelmed easily, no matter their age. By setting small goals, you keep the interest levels up through achievements and they can see their progress. Create a family chart of jobs each family member can do and make it a fun activity. Pop a photo of each family member or even a reward for making it a set milestone.
It might sound like a dirty word, but kids actually thrive on a small amount of responsibility. They get a kick out of being in charge of “important things”. It builds their sense of belonging and grows their confidence through learning they can do tasks and see reward for effort. With younger kids, the responsibility could be watering the new veggie patch or putting the bottles in the recycle bin. They really do love to do things to help. My toddler, Harrison, is currently obsessed with helping to put any bit of rubbish or speck of dirt he finds on the ground into the bin.
As we said before, kids just love to be included. If everyone in the family is working toward a sustainable life, they will be much more into learning and doing. Seeing the results of their hard work pay off will be exciting and you’ll be surprised at the ideas your kids come up with.
Build new furniture
Kids love to build. There’s always something special about spending time with the kids creating memories that can be shared for years to come. Recycling can be introduced through creating. Did you know old wood pallets can make awesome tables and chairs? Wood pallets are used for transporting bulk items on trucks, but what happens once they are used? They’re disposed of. If you see any laying around, ask if they are still needed and if not, take them and see what you can build with the wood. A chicken coop maybe? Or go-kart for zooming down the street? Send us a photo of your upcycled creation.
The benefits are endless
The benefits of moving toward a sustainable way of life isn’t just environmental. When kids have a hand in growing their own food and seeing where it comes from, they take ownership. In fact, they’re more likely to want to try new foods and who knows, they might even like them!
A friend of mine was telling me a story the other day. She took her 6 year old son to Bunnings last year (yes, it’s his absolute favourite store) to spend his birthday money. He bought himself a little pot with soil and strawberry seeds in it. My friend told me how excited he was to plant the seeds and watch them grow. She was amazed how into it he was as he was one of those fussy kids who never tried anything new, especially food. She actually couldn’t believe out of the whole Bunnings store that is what he chose! Anyway, she was telling me how he watered them every day until they finally grew and he got his first strawberry. He was so excited to eat it. He’d never been keen to try strawberries before that. In fact, the closest thing he’d come to eating strawberries was Pauls Strawberry Flavoured Custard. True story. But guess what? He loved them. He’s now obsessed with growing things and has grass growing in a ceramic mini bus and a veggie patch with carrots, onions and peas.
Sustainable living is something we can all do and it’s something that our children will take with them through their own lives. If we all leave a footprint in our sustainable teachings rather than the environment, the earth will be around for many centuries to come.