As mums, one of our jobs is to recognise that in many ways, our kids are growing up in a different world than what we knew as children. This not only means embracing new tech gadgets for early learning, but also passing on the knowledge we’ve acquired over the years on how to reduce our carbon footprint in the world. Here are some strategies for teaching your little one the importance of “going green”:
1) Set a good example.
Kids learn by example, so before you start teaching them the importance of being eco-friendly, make sure you’re leading the best green lifestyle you can. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use and unplug your electronics once they’re done charging. Sort the recycling when the kids are in the room, and turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth together. You can also explain to your children how your new refrigerator, dishwasher, or tumble dryer helps the environment by reducing energy usage. Once you’ve set the example and explained the importance being eco-friendly, have your children help you with these green practices in the future—they may even remember better than you do sometimes!
2) Make upcycling fun.
There’s nothing kids love better than a good project—and the opportunity to learn hands-on. Instead of buying new arts and crafts supplies, plan a fun upcycling project for you and the kids to do together. Have them make new coaster sets from your old CD and magazine collections by gluing pages to the front and back of the discs. Use old milk containers and loo rolls to build structures, or upcycle that old egg cartons to create a beautiful fake flower arrangement. Before you throw something out, look for upcycling project ideas online, and make sure you explain the concept of upcycling to your child during each craft time.
3) Team up for clean-up.
If you know other mums in the neighbourhood, consider organising a neighbourhood clean-up. To make the clean-up more fun for the little ones, divide them into teams and challenge them to collect as much garbage as they can within a set time span, say an hour or two. The team that wins gets a special prize, but make sure everyone is rewarded for their efforts by holding a pizza party or a dish party afterwards.
4) Swap and share instead of buying new.
Another great way to teach your kids how to reduce their carbon footprint is to organise opportunities to swap and share toys, clothes, games, and books with other kids at school or in your neighbourhood. With a few rare exceptions, kids lose interest in their belongings quickly, so arranging a monthly or bi-monthly swap will allow them to constantly have new entertainment in the house without destroying your budget—or the environment! If you don’t have any takers, teach your child eco-friendly habits by making better use of your local library and shopping in—and donating—to second-hand stores.