Sustainability simplified - teaching kids about sustainability

seedling in hand

Sustainability is a term often brought up in discussions centred around staggering statistics, specific goal targets and competing politics. Because of this, attaining sustainability often becomes viewed as a problem far too large and complex for individuals to make any noticeable difference. It can be a daunting topic to educate yourself on, let alone trying to educate your children. But, it is important to make sustainability more than just a buzzword.

Benefits of engaging children with sustainable practices

Introducing sustainable practices at a young age helps to build a foundation for understanding the importance of sustainability and encourages kids’ continued active engagement with sustainable practices all the way into adulthood. These behaviours can transpire into habits that will benefit the state of the world today and for future generations.

Not only do kids benefit from engaging with sustainable practices but it provides an important opportunity for parents to lead by example and become positive role models for their children while also becoming further educated on various ways to be sustainable themselves.

Simple sustainable practices for the whole family

Teaching children about sustainability is proven to be most effective through hands-on engagement with sustainable practices. This not only provides a learning opportunity for kids but these activities can be a fun way to get the whole family involved.

Here are a few simple sustainable activities, all with teachable moments, aimed at engaging and educating children.

Recycling and composting

Decorate and label recycling and composting bins. This is a great way to engage kids’ creative side while also making the process of recycling and composting more fun.

Teachable moment: teach kids what goes into waste, recycling and composting bins. You can go further and educate your children on the role of recycling and composting in protecting the environment, such as reducing emissions and landfill waste (and bad smells). This can also be a great time to introduce the idea of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Shower time

Make showers short and fun by playing 1-2 of your kids’ favourite songs to keep time in the shower to around 5 minutes.

Teachable moment: educate your children about water as a non-renewable resource and the importance of water conservation.

Gardening

Growing a veggie garden doesn’t require a big backyard or lots of gardening tools. You can buy inexpensive pots or get creative and give new life to used items around the house, such as teapots, baskets or cinder blocks.

Teachable moment: how growing your own food/buying locally positively impacts the environment.

Cycling

Get active and start cycling to places you visit frequently (and are within cycling distance), such as the local cafe, grocery shop or school. This is a great way to get the whole family outside, fit and active.

Teachable moment: personal sustainability is just as important as other forms of sustainability. Cycling is a great way to encourage your child to value the importance of being healthy and active. On a more academic level, this activity can be a segway into introducing understandings of emissions, specifically those produced by cars, and the negative impacts these have on the environment.


There are many more ways that broaching the topic of sustainability in a simplified and digestible manner with your children can be achieved. These are just four activities that provide a great place to start.

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