How to practice sustainability as a family?
Photo by Filip Urban on Unsplash
Sustainability is a lasting trend, but it can be a bit confusing for families with young kids. After all, what little wouldn’t be scratching their head over a long talk about environmentalism?
However, there are things you can do to teach your kids the importance of sustainability and practices you can put in place to make it a priority in your household.
Teaching kids about sustainability now will help them develop healthy habits in the future that can make a positive impact on the planet. It’s not too late to slow or even reverse the effects of climate change, reduce waste, and improve the environment’s overall health with lifestyle changes.
So, how can you get your kids interested in the environment, and how can you actively practice sustainability as a family?
Educate your kids (as yourself)
Almost everyone has a basic idea of why sustainability is important. You’ve probably heard of the benefits of recycling, reducing waste, and lowering your carbon footprint for years. However, if you want to explain the importance of taking care of the environment to your kids, you need to learn as much as possible about it yourself.
Living a more sustainable lifestyle has many benefits, including
- Better air quality
- More natural resources
- Greater community health
- Maintaining resources for the future
- Slowing climate change
Talk to your kids about why these benefits are important and what they might mean for the future. The goal isn’t to frighten your children into living a sustainable life but to educate them on the positive changes they can make for the planet.
By empowering your kids to be environmental activists – in and out of the home – they can encourage others to reduce their carbon footprints and help local communities become “greener” well into adulthood.
Changing your household habits
The easiest way to practice sustainability as a family is to make small changes that will make a big difference. Things like only using the dishwasher or washing machine when you have full loads are starting. Turning lights off when you leave a room is another great habit to get into. As the adult in the family, keep up with things like appliance maintenance to maintain energy efficiency, and consider making your own cleaning supplies to cut back on chemical use.
Your kids can do their part by learning about which items can be recycled. Set up a recycling station somewhere in your home and let them toss their items in each designated bin. Set up a compost bin outside so they can learn about reusing food scraps and reducing waste. You can even set up a backyard garden and utilize that compost. Teaching your children about the benefits of growing your own food is a great way to get them interested in the health of the planet.
You can even practice reducing your energy consumption as a family by having “unplugged” time. Kids today are spending more time in front of screens than ever. Taking time away from digital devices isn’t only good for their physical and mental health, but it’s good for the environment. Set boundaries with screen time and find healthy alternatives (like getting outside!) for your family’s time.
Gamify your sustainable efforts
Even after educating your family on the importance of sustainability, it’s not always easy to change habits. Kids can quickly forget the things they’re told, especially if they’ve been doing things a different way for a long time.
One effective way to keep them excited about environmentalism is to “gamify” your sustainability practices. After all, what family doesn’t love a little healthy competition?
Kids love games, and they really love competing against their siblings! If you want to keep them excited about conservation and sustainability, find ways to make your efforts fun. For example, if you’re trying to get your kids to save water, sit down and talk with them about the importance of water quality. Discuss water pollution and what they can do to keep everyone’s water supply clean and safe. That can lead to a discussion about wasting water and offering different ways they can conserve it, including
- Taking shorter showers
- Turning off the faucet while they brush their teeth
- Washing their clothes with full loads of laundry (for older children)
- Turning off the kitchen sink while washing dishes
- Not wasting drinking water
If you want to turn these efforts into a game, take a look at your monthly water bill and how much you use. If it goes lower each month, reward your kids. You can go one step further by setting up a chart in your home and letting your kids fill it in with things like how many minutes they were in the shower. Similar charts can be used to monitor things like the amount of waste everyone is producing or how many items each person recycled in a week.
Combining education and excitement is a fantastic way to practice sustainability as a family. Keep these ideas in mind to make positive changes within your house and to foster healthy environmental habits your kids will carry with them into the future.