How to teach children about sustainability

How to teach children about sustainability

As future custodians of our planet, children possess the potential to shape a better, greener world. It is never too early to start teaching children about sustainability – establishing a solid foundation from a young age should encourage environmentally conscious choices in their future. Teaching children about sustainability not only provides the knowledge and skills to live in harmony with nature, but also nurtures their sense of responsibility, empathy, and critical thinking.

Explain the concept of sustainability as a first step. Use simple language to explain what sustainability means, such as "taking care of the Earth so it can continue to provide for us and future generations." Emphasize the importance of preserving natural resources, protecting wildlife, and reducing pollution.

Young children in particular love to imitate their parents or guardians; it is how they learn best! Practicing a sustainable lifestyle is one way to ignite a child’s naturally curious mind – recycle, conserve energy & water, and explain why you’re doing these things. One way to get children involved could be by asking for their help to gather the recyclable materials and placing them in the recycling waste… or perhaps choosing to keep hold of the materials and re-using them (crafting for a nature inspired summer). Explain the importance of waste management, including recycling, composting, and reducing single-use plastics. And teach them how to sort and recycle different materials. 

A hands-on (and fun) approach is to involve them in gardening. Involve them in planting vegetables, herbs, or flowers. Explain the importance of organic gardening, composting, and how plants contribute to clean air and a healthy ecosystem. Involve them in creating a compost pile for organic waste. Of course, depending on the child’s age, you may end up having mud pie for tea!

Involve them in decision-making - Encourage children to be part of sustainable choices, such as choosing eco-friendly products, planning energy-saving practices, or reducing single-use plastics. Help them to find planet friendly alternatives of everyday items, such as toilet paper, and explain why it’s important to make these simple, planet saving, switches. When they actively participate, they feel more responsible for their actions.

Take children on nature walks, hikes, or visits to parks and botanical gardens, explore nature! Encourage them to observe and appreciate the beauty of the natural world whilst creating lasting memories.

Support environmental initiatives - Engage children in environmental projects or initiatives, such as community clean-ups or tree planting events. Show them that their actions can contribute to positive change and make a difference.

Encourage their curiosity, answer their questions, and be patient as they learn and adopt new practices. By nurturing their love for the Earth and fostering a sense of responsibility, you can help them become lifelong advocates for sustainability.

Image: Sandie Clarke @ Unsplash

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