Instilling the values of sustainability in children at an early age is important so that they can effectively contribute and spread awareness amongst their peers while growing up.
Being a parent, I think the onus is on me to steer my children towards caring for the environment. Few efforts from us should be able to foster the future generation of sustainable leaders.
It is important for us to first acquaint ourselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Discuss them with your children to help them understand the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
Explaining the impact of their sustainable actions will help incentivize them to be environmentally conscious.
Actions speak louder than words. What better way to show children how to care for the environment than by leading with action. Remember your small actions will help nurture the next generation of sustainable leaders, and soon you will have your very own Greta Thunberg in your homes.
Appreciating their efforts and give them a pat on their backs will give them a push ahead in their journey of sustainability.
Sharing few simple ideas that can be incorporated in your lives that will help sow the seeds of sustainability in children, the benefits of which will be reaped by them in the future.
Get out in the open
Visit a beach, a park, a wadi, an animal conservation area and so on. Let children learn to experience nature firsthand, breathe fresh air, and have a sense of gratitude towards Mother Earth. Let them fall in love with nature and nurture that connection so they can be nature advocates.
Don’t waste food
A huge percentage of the food in the world goes to waste. Start with your own home, and your own habits of preparing and serving food. Make your children appreciate the food they are getting, serve them portions that they are willing to eat to ensure that there is no wastage.
A garden at home
Plants help you stay refreshed and adds colour to your home. Keep a small garden if space permits. If you have space restrictions, keep some indoor potted plants in your home. Grow your own herbs. Let your children be responsible for watering the plants and nurturing them.
Donate your clothes, books and toys
It is good to teach them the values of donating items to charity whilst they are young. Donate old clothes that don’t fit, or the books that you are done reading or the toys that you have outgrown.
Reduce and Recycle
Get children excited about recycling. Teach them to segregate waste and recycle at home. Dedicate a box and put your recyclables like paper, glass, plastic, aluminum and tin cans in it. Make sure they are clean and dry. Teach them why it is important to recycle.
Volunteer for beach or desert cleanup and other environment activities
Join a beach or desert clean up – a practical and fun way to teach children about conserving and protecting the environment. Create awareness about the environment by participating in Earth Hour and World Environment Day activities.
Use reusable bottles, lunch boxes and cutlery
Pack the snacks and lunches for children to take to school in reusable items to reduce the consumption of plastic. Teach them to refuse single-use plastic, show them what it does to the environment and specially marine life. Let them carry the message to their classmates and be a good leading example.
Environment theme-based family nights
Have environment theme-based family nights – watch a documentary on the environment, talk about your favourite animal, engage in some DIY activities using waste materials as a family and use/display these items in your homes, etc.
Conserve water and electricity
While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh, with only 1 percent of our freshwater being easily accessible. Hence it is important to teach children to save water while brushing teeth, washing hands or taking a shower. Make your children responsible for switching off lights, TVs, computers and other appliances when not in use. Discuss electricity and water consumption patterns with your children. Show them how their efforts count and how every drop of water and every watt of electricity matter.