Here are ten everyday things we do to help encourage environmental awareness in our kids and help them to ‘think green’.
- Walk more, drive less. Play outside every day if we can. Celebrate the different seasons – collect Autumn leaves, make kites on a windy day, find sunny parks in Winter, smell the flowers in Spring, and splash barefoot in puddles during Summer storms.
- Pick up and dispose of litter that we find on our neighbourhood walks. Talk about how garbage can be washed down drains and float out to sea.
- Join a local conservation society or bushcare group. Talk about the importance of protecting pockets of bush for flora and fauna. Go on guided bushwalks, and look for fungi.
- Learn about local flora. Notice, discuss and research. Consider the height of trees, the colour of leaves, common botanical names, flowering seasons and the shape of seed pods. Garden with the kids, focusing on the experience rather than the result. Plant bulbs. Compost. Get them their own (real) gardening tools, and give them the freedom to dig, pick flowers or cut grass.
- Teach respect for all life (except mozzies). Be intrigued about spiders, insects and snails. Borrow library books about bugs. Catch (non-poisonous) spiders that have wandered indoors and relocate them back outside. Talk about ecosystems and how everything in nature is connected. Visit as many zoos and aquariums as you can.
- Sort through your rubbish, and recycle. Save items from the recycling or normal bin to reuse in art & crafts or loose parts play. It’s environmentally concious, it’s frugal and it encourages creativity! We have large ongoing bottle top, glass jar and toilet paper roll collections! (See some of our recycled crafts here, here, here, here and here – just to name a few!).
- You can also use natural materials for art & craft or for loose parts play. We’ve started a nature collection where we collect found feathers, cicada shells, seed pods, herbs, pebbles, knobbly sticks, flowers and unusual leaves. The kids play with items from their nature collection every single day, in so many different ways. (We’re also on the look out for snake skin, but we haven’t found any yet – which is perhaps a good thing). You can see some of our natural arts and crafts here.
- Reject excess plastic bags – use green bags and boxes for grocery shopping instead. Buy in bulk, and avoid products with have excessive packaging.
- Buy seasonal fruit and vegies – they are fresher, tastier, better for the environment, and frequently better for the hip pocket too.
- Buy less stuff (a hard one in our consumerist world). Fix things. Buy second hand. DIY. Encourage the kids to see handmade things as more special than store bought alternatives.
There are some of the things we do everyday to encourage our kids to grow up environmentally aware. (There are lots of other things we do – like using energy efficient light globes, choosing to pay extra for renewable electricity, donating to bushcare organisations, etc – but these things aren’t very ‘visable’ from a toddler or preschooler’s perspective.)
There are loads of other things we could (and should) be doing, but at least this is a start. Whenever I get a chance, I love reading Down to Earth Mother for more ideas – it’s a fabulous resource on green living for busy mums.
What do you do encourage ‘green thinkers’ in your house? I’d love to hear your tips!