Amazing Ways to Teach Kids About Sustainability
Sustainability is such a big word that comes along with great responsibility. Teaching kids about sustainability at such a young age is a lot of hard work but it is worth it. It might be difficult at first to explain to the kids how one action can lead to another but all you need is one small step to start a chain reaction. By explaining to them how their eating habits and daily routine can give an impact to the environment, it will help them understand the meaning of “sustainability”.
How to Teach Kids About Sustainability
It is very important that before you teach kids about sustainability, they get to understand the reason why they have to observe this discipline. Make them understand that reducing waste and recycling will help reduce the sizes of landfills, minimize pollution, and improve the soil. The thing is that they do it not because “you said so” but because they know the meaning that lies beneath the word “sustainability”.
Be Creative in Teaching Sustainability
As an adult, it is important that we see our kids as “partners in crime” in our goal to achieve sustainability. One way of doing this is by being creative. Yes, you read it correctly. Kids are naturally artistic, creative, and imaginative, so we must use it to our advantage. Incorporate lessons of sustainability through artworks, gift ideas, playing.
For one, you can teach your kids to make their artworks with the use of recyclable materials. They can make their own stuffed toys using old clothes and old pillows, and you can help them in the sewing process. Or, you can teach them to wrap their presents with dried leaves, old newspapers or magazines, instead of spending money and wasting resources for gift wrappers every Christmas.
According to an article in Reader’s Digest, “Most gift wrap contains elements, such as glitter, that is made up of other materials like metals and plastics”. That is why most of the wrapping paper cannot be recycled. Imagine all the times you’ve used gift wrap without knowing that it contributes to the millions of trash that pollute nature.
Gift giving with a Twist
Moreover, you can teach them that gift-giving can also be a way to observe sustainability. Help them sort their stuff such as clothes, toys, books, and things that they have outgrown. Teach them that instead of letting it take up space in their cabinets or containers, other kids will be very much happy to make use of their stuff.
Instead of buying snacks from the grocery, help them create their very own healthy and delicious snacks. Look for a good recipe and help them bake their homemade snacks. You can put your baked goodies in cans or jars instead of plastic containers. This way, you are not only eating healthy but you are also teaching them how to avoid using too much plastic from the grocery.
Let Them Learn Sustainability Through Experience
Take them on an adventure
Kids love going on adventures all the time. Let them experience going on a farm tour, vegetable and fruit picking, a zoo, eco-parks, mini-greenhouses, and the likes.
Taking them on this kind of adventure will give them a good learning experience and they will appreciate more the importance of sustainability. Let them explore and discover new things while they are in these places. This way, they will take sustainability more seriously.
Do an Experiment
Experiments are the second next best thing to adventures. Science experiments in particular help kids understand the different natural processes that we have in our environment. You can use these experiments to explain to them the process of water preservation and why it is important to plant trees. Teach them to respect and value nature as it is.
Choose an age-appropriate science experiment and get your kids involved in the whole process. As you go through the process, let them ask questions, and provide appropriate answers to their questions. On the other hand, ask them questions to assess if they understand the whole point of the experiment.
Help Them Create Their Own Garden
One simple way of teaching your kids about sustainability is through gardening. It can be their very own vegetable garden, fruit garden, or flower garden. It does not really matter for as long as they know their responsibility when it comes to their garden. Teach them how to plant, water, and care for their garden so they will get involved in the process. This way, they will learn the importance of eating healthily and why they should not waste their food.
You can start by asking them about their favorite fruit, vegetable or flower. Helping them plant their favorite will get them excited. Start small by planting on a pot or an old can or reusable container. Explain to them the whole planting process so they will know how much water to put on their plants and when can they expect to see a fruit or vegetable or flower. This way, you can teach them how to eat healthily and at the same time how to manage their garden. They get to appreciate the whole process of gardening and they will look forward to their harvest.
Teach them the 3 R’s
To do this right, you have to explain to them first the proper way of segregating the trash into biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials. You can teach them that biodegradable materials can be used for compost pit while the non-biodegradable materials can be further categorized into the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Teach them different ways on how to reduce their waste such as bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery; bringing their own water bottles to school instead of using plastic bottles; or cooking your very own healthy meal instead of having takeout food every weekend.
Help them turn old stuff into reusable ones. For instance, an old drawer can be reused into bookshelves. Old wine and soda bottles can be turned into vases. Old toys can be used for decorating the lids of jars and plain-looking shelves.
Lastly, teach them the importance of recycling. Instead of buying, help your kids reuse old newspapers and magazines into paper bags. Make their very own pencil holders using empty plastic containers. Help them recycle old clothes into an apron or a new bag.
There are many more ways to teach your kids about sustainability. But the surest way to make them understand this concept is to get them involved. As adults, we have to practice what we preach them because it is our responsibility to teach them these things. Take note that our small efforts now create a very big impact for future generations. We have to set an example so that our kids can continue to live in a bountiful and sustainable world. Is this a topic that you already discussed with your kids? How did it go? Let us know about your own experience.
Written by: Sheryl Tiongson