Sunday 9 January 2022

10 Ways to Raise Environmentally Conscious kids

A new year always gets people thinking about goals and resolutions. One thing that I hope to improve on this year is being more eco-friendly. I feel like I was doing well pre-Covid and then the pandemic came along and I started to question things. There seemed to be little point in trying to be plastic free when millions of single-use plastics were being used every single day in the form of Covid tests and face masks. It made it all seem like an impossible task to me. On the other hand, perhaps this just means we need to be more environmentally conscious than ever.  Afterall, no matter what others do, we can still do our bit for the planet and one of the most important things we can do is encourage our children to be environmentally conscious too.

As caring for the environment has always been important to me, I have always strived to educate my children about it and get them involved in the eco-friendly things that I do. Here are my top 10 ways to raise environmentally conscious kids:

Read books about the climate and eco-friendly actions

The first thing you should do is explain why it's important to be eco-friendly. A great way to do this is by reading books. There are some wonderful picture books for younger children such as, 'We are water protectors' by Carole Lindstrom and 'Tidy' by Emily Gravett. For older children, 'Project protect the planet' by Jess French is good and as this was a World Book Day 2021 book, it costs only £1!

There are also lots of educational books and workbooks as well. We love the book 'What is climate change' by Gail Herman for Who HQ.

Encourage them to save energy and water

Involve your children in saving energy and water around the house. Remind them to turn off lights when they leave a room and to turn off the tap while they brush their teeth. One thing I am constantly having to remind my children is to open the curtains in the morning and switch off the lights! We have recently started collecting rain water to water the plants and the children enjoy being responsible for this.

Use reusable containers

We have been using reusable water bottles for a number of years now. Not only are they better for the environment but you will save money too. My children each have their own reusable water bottle and we have a couple of spares. We love the stainless steel water bottles from Klean Kanteen.

Another thing I have been trying to do lately is to use plastic containers for snacks when we go out. I fill them up with sliced fruit and vegetables or biscuits, crackers and nuts. This brings me on to my next tip....

Make your own snacks

If your children are anything like mine, they constantly seem to be hungry! They are always asking for snacks and the problem is a lot of snacks come in lots of plastic packaging. All of this packaging is single use and, therefore, very bad for the environment. This is one of the reasons I try to make my own snacks. I haven't found it possible to make all our own snacks yet but it's definitely something I strive for. Not only is making your own snacks better for the environment, it's healthier too. Furthermore, I find it an excellent way to connect with my children. We love to bake treats together in the mornings and eat them during read alouds or pack them up for our outdoor adventures!

Walk more

I must say, this is not an easy one for me. My children do a lot of activities and I feel like a taxi driver a lot of the time! However, I have started to think twice before I get in the car. I no longer take them to activities that are far away from our house and I try to tie things in the same area together to save car journeys. 

I found lockdowns a great opportunity to spend more time in our local area and discover what was on our doorstep. We now walk to our local parks and wild places and the children have really been enjoying this.

Encourage them to recycle and reuse

My children help me out with the recycling each week. They help me to sort it and put it in the relevant recycling bins and containers outside. We also use a lot of the recycling products for crafting and once they have finished playing with the items they can then be recycled too.

I also tell them that we don't need to buy brand new things all the time. They love going to charity shops and choosing a secondhand book or game. I've told them that they don't need too much clothing and this can also be purchased secondhand when possible. On top of this, we mend our own clothes when they have a little hole in them and my older children are sometimes better than me at doing this as I don't always find the time!

Spend time in nature

As David Attenborough famously said, 'Noone will protect what they don't care about, and no one will care about what they've never experienced.' This shows just how important it is for children to spend time in nature and get to know and love it. As we homeschool, we are able to spend a lot of time outdoors and the children love it. It makes us all feel better when we've spent time in the fresh air and the children love to run and play and discover nature's wonders. If your children go to school during the week, try to spend time outdoors afterschool, even if it is just in the garden. Also, you can go for nature walks at the weekends and explore your local wild places. Spend some time sitting in a wild place observing the nature around you and try nature journaling - this can be great fun for children.

If you are interested in connecting more with nature as a family, you might enjoy my short nature course, A Childhood Wild.

Get them involved in conservation

Conservation is not just for adults, children can get involved too! Have a chat with your children and see which environmental causes they are most interested in. Maybe they would like to help plant some trees or perhaps they'd like to support local wildlife. Check with your local wildlife trust or other conservation organisations in your local area for ways to get involved - they are often looking for volunteers! The Wildlife Trust has a junior branch called Wildlife Watch which your children may like to join. 

If you want something easy to start with, what could be simpler than making your garden more wildlife-friendly. Put up some bird feeders, create a bird bath or bug hotel, or perhaps just leave a patch of your garden overgrown and it will become a haven for wildlife!

Grow your own

Teach your children that not all food needs to come from the supermarket - you can grow your own! My children love planting seeds in the spring and watching them grow into plants and produce fruit and vegetables. Not only does it teach children about sustainable ways of producing food, it also teaches them patience and that their hard work can produce something amazing! If you don't have the space in your garden, or if you don't have a garden at all, you can get an allotment or help out at a communal allotment or farm. It's great fun!

Take them to a climate strike

Not everyone will agree with me, but climate strikes or marches can be really inspiring for children! I have taken all four of my children on a climate strike and they enjoyed it. Before the march, we spent some time talking about climate action and making banners together. They each thought about the message they wanted to convey and enjoyed decorating the banners. The march was really upbeat and it was great to be around passionate people who also cared so deeply about the environment. It did not feel depressing but rather it made us feel like we can make a difference and gave us hope! 

My eldest daughter has been particularly inspired by climate action and has been keen to find out more about Greta Thunberg, the amazing young lady who started the school climate strikes. We watched a documentary about her together and we were even lucky enough to see her in person when she came to do a climate strike in our city just before the start of the pandemic. It was so inspiring!

I hope this article has given you some ideas for ways you can raise environmentally conscious children. Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know in the comments!

This article is part of a blog hop with some other amazing bloggers! Check out their blog posts here:

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