It's never too early to start teaching kids about the environment and ways they can help protect their world. While it might seem like sustainability is a difficult concept for young children to grasp, getting them involved in hands-on activities makes the learning (and teaching) fun! Here are a few simple ideas to help you raise the next generation of planet saviours:
1. Sorting recyclables
Helping sort and separate the recycling is an activity for almost all ages. For toddlers, have them help you put the right item in the relevant bin; for teens, give them ownership of the household's separating and sorting process. Taking school-aged kids to drop items off at your local recycling centre will help give them an idea of the bigger picture.
2. Planning meals
When your Good & Fugly box arrives, get the kids involved with planning and cooking meals. It’s an opportunity to talk about where the food they eat comes from, and get creative with meal ideas to use all the ‘fugly’ fruit and veg in the delivery. Make it a family challenge to have no food wasted at the end of the week to reduce your household’s carbon footprint, doing your bit to curb climate change.
3. Exploring nature
There's no better way to teach children about sustainability than by exposing them to nature itself. Visit a nearby lake or river, or walk your local bush trails. Teach them about the different types of plants and animals they see and explain how everything in nature is interconnected – many bush trails have educational signs and plaques about the flora and fauna in your area.
4. Conserving energy
One of the simplest ways to teach children about sustainability is to show them how they can conserve energy in their own lives. Turn off the lights when you're not using them, unplug electronics when they're not in use, and take shorter showers. Explain why it's important to conserve energy and how it can help protect the planet.
5. Planting a garden
Starting a garden is another great way to teach kids about where their food comes from and the importance of taking care of plants. It can also help them learn about the water cycle, photosynthesis and other elements of horticulture. If you don't have room for a garden, growing herbs or cherry tomatoes in small pots on a balcony or in a courtyard is just as exciting!
Volunteering is a great way to teach children about the importance of giving back to their community, no matter their age. There are many environmental organisations and community groups that could use help, like beach and park cleanup groups or collecting samples for science and conservation groups. Not only does it show young kids how their actions can make a difference, but it also leaves them with a sense of accomplishment.