Talking about the environment with children is one of the best things we can do to encourage ‘green’ habits for a sustainable world. Developing the habit of thinking about the impact of their actions on the earth is as important as learning about other aspects of faith and growing spiritually – they are interlinked.
To make sustainable living a way of life, we can make small daily changes. Here are a few ideas to teach sustainable living to your kids:
1. Getting serious about waste
Consider the waste your household generates – what can you buy less of? Is there a way to avoid extra packaging? Can you reuse items from friends or family instead of buying new?
Get children involved in creating waste management systems in the house to keep paper and cardboard recycling separate from plastics, metals and glass. Check out your local waste disposal and recycling website for guidelines. Discuss these with your children to understand the full range of recycling services on offer locally.
3. Water conservation
Share some visual prompts online to show your children what 1 gallon of water looks like to help them understand this fact: the average person uses 80–100 gallons of water a day. Practise water conservation by not leaving the tap running whilst washing up, brushing their teeth, or making wudu.
Save water by using the shower instead of filling a bath and using a watering can instead of a hosepipe. Even better, use a water barrel to collect rain to feed outdoor plants.
4. Get growing
Gardening is a great way to nurture the skill of caring for our environment and taking responsibility. Balcony and windowsill pots are ideal ways to grow plants any time of the year. Research seasonal vegetables if you have an outdoor garden to use. It will also help children understand the time and effort that goes into growing vegetables to reduce food waste in the home.
In the garden, making bird baths, bird feeders and insect hotels are wonderful activities to help the survival of minibeasts and birds.
Buy local seasonal fruits and vegetables with minimal packaging. Freeze fruit and vegetables that may be in excess. Get children used to checking food stocks in cupboards and the fridge before grocery shopping to make sure older items are used up before fresh food is stored. Make a family recipe book to collect favourite recipes that use up fresh produce.
Leftover food scraps and peel can be put in a composting bin and not in general waste. There are many child-friendly instructions on how to make a compost box in the garden for general food waste.
6. Plastic patrol!
Explain to your children what the problem with plastic is: it does not degrade and can cause harm to plants and animals that come into contact with it.
Children can help to spot the alternatives to plastic when you’re out shopping, such as cups and bottles made of bamboo; wooden hairbrushes; and metal or ceramic food containers.
Note: This is an excerpt from Suma Din’s latest ‘The Gift of the World’ published by Beacon Books. The article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Beacon Books.
You can purchase the book directly from this link