Most often, children develop habits in their early years that set the precedent for their lifestyle as adults. Teaching children how to take care of the environment when they’re young will help instill a belief system that is good for the environment and good for their future.
Environmental conservation is a complex topic for small children, but there are ways of making it easy to understand. Children can understand that we need to be kind to our planet, just like we need to be kind to each other. We need to clean up the environment, just like we clean up our rooms at home. And the decisions we make today can change things in the future.
Environmentally Friendly Habits for Kids
Here are some environmentally friendly habits for kids that you can start teaching today!
Teach your little ones about the basic differences between items that are recyclable and items that are trash. If you have a compost bucket in your house, you can take it one step further and teach your children to put organic materials in the compost pile!
Remind your little environmentalist to ask you if they aren’t sure what goes where. Learning how to sort recyclables, trash, and compost takes practice!
- No littering
Little kids might not understand that they can’t throw trash on the ground outside. They might think that it’s okay because they aren’t throwing it on the floor at home, and it will just blow away in the wind! However, they must understand that trash doesn’t just “go away” when it’s thrown on the ground. Eventually, it will end up somewhere in nature and it can hurt animals.
Children must understand the consequences of littering, so they can fully grasp why it’s a bad thing. Once they realize that their actions could harm others, they will be more likely to remember that littering is bad and trash ALWAYS goes in the trash can.
Food, water, and electricity might seem like endless resources to little ones. If there’s always food in the fridge, water in the sink, and light on in the house, they may not realize that all of these things have a source, and that source is actually finite.
You can help teach your little ones about conservation by telling them that conserving resources saves food, water, and electricity for others who need them, too. For example, you can remind them to turn the lights off to save energy for other houses in your neighborhood. Remind them to turn off the water while brushing their teeth to save water for the fishies. And teach them that food comes from people who worked hard to grow it, so you have to eat what’s in the fridge before going out to dinner or buying more food at the store.
- Read books and watch movies about protecting the environment
There are many books and movies that help teach kids about environmental conservation in a way they’ll understand. Of course, you should still work on developing “green” habits, but educational material is a great way to support your family’s values.
- Teach your children the importance of fresh, local foods
Conventionally grown produce that is shipped in from all over the world harms the environment with pesticides, greenhouse gases, and, sometimes, unsafe labor practices. Try growing a garden in your backyard or bringing your little one to a local farmer’s market to show them the value of growing and harvesting food.
Tell your children that purchasing from local farmers helps support families like yours and that their job is to help keep us healthy and nourished.
- Avoid single-use plastics
Drinking only from single-use plastic water bottles, using plastic baggies for food storage, and relying on plastic shopping bags are all habits that many families have trouble breaking. You can stop the cycle of frequent plastic use and disposal with your children by showing them all the alternatives.
- If you don’t drink tap water at your house, consider getting a water filter for your faucet or using a refillable water filter container.
- Use reusable lunch boxes or canvas tote bags for snacks and school lunches.
- Place extra food and leftovers in reusable food storage containers. It’s recommended to use glass, but there are durable plastic options that will last for many years.
- Use reusable shopping bags and make it a point to tell your kids that you have to remember them every time you go to the store. This will help instill the habit for when they grow up and go grocery shopping by themselves.
- Beeswax-coated fabric is an excellent alternative to plastic wrap. It can create an airtight seal and keep food super fresh.
- Opt for disposable paper or wax paper items when you know need to use something disposable. For example, if you pack snacks for an airplane ride, you might not want to bring a bulky glass or plastic container. Wax paper baggies help keep snacks fresh and mess-free.
- Buy everyone in the family a durable reusable water bottle. You can get your kids excited about using theirs if you allow them to choose their water bottle and decorate it with stickers!
Teaching kids how to take care of the environment won’t happen overnight. It requires building small yet significant habits, frequent gentle reminders, and a commitment to leaving the earth better than you found it.
Meaningful Beginnings is proud to use sustainable practices in our childcare centers. Our caretakers make it a point to teach children environmentally friendly habits that will support a healthier, happier future for all. Contact us today to learn more about how we help support our environment while we support your little ones.