With so many of us now striving to follow environmentally responsible practices in our daily lives, it's no wonder that we're also feeling inspired to pass on this thinking to our children. By instilling eco-friendly habits at a young age, we can help establish habits and rituals that will be carried through their lives for decades to come. (And in turn, they can pass these messages on to their own children, and so on.)
Keep the lessons simple
But what's the best way to encourage a little monster who loves to watch his electric toy train drive around the tracks for hours on end? First, you can try explaining the relevance of green practices to your children. Keep the lesson simple and centre on the key goal of preserving the planet for future generations and keeping it as healthy as it can be. Don't dwell on the negatives or the "what ifs," but rather keep your message positive, uplifting and inspirational -- focus on the positive changes we can all make and how much good we can do.
Set up a checklist
The next step is to outline all of the small ways your kids can make a positive difference. You could even try setting up a checklist that your child can mark off when they've completed each activity. (Potentially motivate them with rewards, such as an adventure to the beach or a sleepover.) If you're starting to feel nervous about what changes you're going to have to make in your home, you can breathe a sigh of relief -- we've bagged a whole bunch of easy and low-cost user-friendly tasks, so read on and get started!
- Encourage your kids to always recycle all paper, cardboard, glass and tins. If it makes it easier, set up some small bins inside the home specifically dedicated to recycling, then simply offload them to your larger bins every few days. Allow them to draw over the bins in permanent marker to add extra appeal.
- Set up a compost bin outside and spend a day preparing a vegie and herb patch.
- Teach your children to use both sides of every piece of paper. Kids can waste a huge amount of paper scribbling and doodling, so ask them to always turn the sheet over and use both sides.
- Set up a craft bin so that all old household items like jars and toilet rolls can be stored ready for creative play.
- Limit their energy usage. We know this can be a tough one with littlies around, but you don't need to go overboard. Simply encourage a healthy balance of outside play and indoor play (on computers, video games, TV, etc). This won't only reduce your electricity usage and save you money, but also get them active and encourage them to think up their own games rather than rely on technology to entertain them.
- Get them on their bikes and set up a healthy habit they can continue for years to come. If you're too far to walk or ride to school, organise a carpool instead.