Sustainability is essential for the survival of humankind and planet earth. A United Nations report in 1987 noted that sustainable development must meet the needs of the present without compromising the well being of future generations. As our children are the future, it’s essential to educate them about the importance of sustainability. Here are a few ways to help instill a positive attitude.
- Spend time with nature. Earth Charter broadened the definition of sustainability in 2000 to include specific responsibilities of the global society. These included respect for nature. One of the best ways to educate kids about the importance of nature is to get out there amongst it. They’ll want to protect it even more once they’ve experienced how wonderful it is.
- Learning through doing. An effective way to educate is to use hands-on experience to learn. Worm farming is a great way to combine fun activity with education. Kids will learn how they can do their part, and they’ll create plenty of rich fertiliser to help your plants grow. All you need is:
- Worms: Let the kids scrabble around in the dirt to find them
- A container: Use something that allows you to see the worms wriggle around, and keep it in a sheltered place away from the light
- Soil: Don’t flood it but don’t let it get dry – the key thing is to keep it moist
- Scraps: Fruit and veg peelings are perfect. Just make sure you wait until one load is gone before adding more
- Teach them about their carbon footprint. Explain how the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air because of their energy needs affects the environment. Encourage them to make positive choices about how they can reduce their own carbon footprint. They could swap light bulbs to more energy efficient versions, and switch off anything that uses electricity, like the computer or lights, when it isn’t in use.
- Be a role model with recycling. Kids learn really well by example. So letting them see your positive actions will have more impact than simply telling them what to do. And explain the reason behind your actions. For example, educate them about why recycling helps. Make a point of separating paper, card, glass and plastic from your waste. Be careful of overload though; you don’t have to interrupt their game every time you put an old cereal box in the recycling bin!
- Make re-using fun. If kids are enjoying things, they are more likely to want to keep doing it. A great way of giving your kids ownership over how they can live sustainably is through craft and play. Let them use old bottles and cardboard to make things. Do this often and they’ll soon see that just because something may have served its original purpose, that doesn’t mean it has to be chucked.
Through being a good role model and involving your children in the process you’ll all be working towards living a more sustainable life. Get it right early on in life and your kids will have the knowledge they need to help protect the environment and their future enjoyment of it.
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