“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” goes a Native American proverb. At no point in our history as human beings has it ever been more crucial to raise our children with awareness about the state of our planet.
And children themselves are leading the way: Climate activist Greta Thunberg began her crusade to hold policymakers accountable as a solitary 15-year-old holding a sign outside the Swedish parliament. Her Fridays For Future school strike movement has since galvanized millions of students across the world.
When it comes to climate change awareness, it’s never too early to start educating your kids. Here are some tips to get you started.
Spend time in nature
If your kids have a love for nature, they’ll feel vested in protecting it. Take them on hikes and camping trips, and engender a sense of responsibility early on by teaching them to “leave no trace.” Help younger kids identify different species of birds, trees and flowers, and give them a notebook to record their observations. Older kids can download the iNaturalist app, a social network for amateur and professional biologists sharing observations about biodiversity across the globe.
Garden and plant trees
Teaching kids to grow things will also help them feel more connected to our planet. And seeing the literal fruits of their labor will help them understand where our food comes from. Don’t have a green thumb? Take your kids to farmers markets and have them chat up local producers. That should also encourage a more healthful way of eating.
Reduce carbon footprint
Our means of transportation are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to climate change. Driving just two miles in a gas-fueled car can release two pounds of carbon dioxide into the air. Be a role model and extol the virtues of walking, biking, carpooling and taking public transportation. As for ways to reduce carbon footprint around the house, teach kids to turn off energy sources, like TVs, game consoles and computers, when not in use. Make it easy by plugging them into a power strip with an on/off switch, so they don’t have to unplug each gadget.
Become aware of waste
It’s important to teach kids how to recycle properly, but it’s even more important to teach them to lessen their consumption of products with excessive packaging. It’s another area where parents can model behavior. Bring your kids to the grocery store and have them pick out products with less waste. Buy snacks in bulk using reusable bags, or choose foods that aren’t packaged at all, like fresh fruits and vegetables. For a fun weekend trip, hit up Minimal Market at Downtown Fergusons (minimalmarketlv.com), a refillable, zero-waste shop where you can buy household items like laundry detergent using your own containers.