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Teaching kids about sustainability

Posted on 27.09.2022 in Children's development , Industry

Children of today are being raised in a climate crisis and will be the generation that is most negatively impacted by the effect carbon emissions and waste are having on the planet. Many children have already reported feeling climate anxiety, a psychological disorder defined as a “afflicting individuals who are worried about the environmental crisis” (American Psychological Association, 2017). Schools, councils and families not only have a responsibility to teach children about the environment but also to ease children’s concerns and empower them to make a difference by helping them implement sustainable practices into daily life.

Whether it’s through at home recycling efforts or investing in sustainable playgrounds for your community, here are three easy ways to introduce age-appropriate sustainability practices to children.

1. Encourage At Home Practices

At home is the perfect location to start getting children involved in sustainable activities. Setting up children with their own recycling bin for any discarded art projects or plastic bottles helps establish a sense of ownership around their own waste. Initiatives such as a classroom competition or council sponsored prizes for those who collect the most recyclable materials can also act as a positive motivator for children to keep an eye out for recyclable materials.

Unite families by encouraging parents to help their children build their own veggie patch or set up a compost heap in the backyard. This helps teach children about the value of growing their own food and how food waste can become fertiliser instead of landing up in landfill.

2. Get Outdoors

One of the best ways you can inspire a child to care more about the environment is to get them outside! Botanic gardens, zoos, and local parks are all exciting places for children that celebrate the environment. Learning about animals and processes such as pollination or photosynthesis help children see the importance of cherishing natural habitats.

Playgrounds made from recycled materials are also a great way to get children passionate by linking fun to sustainability. Seeing a practical example of recycled materials reused in daily life, contextualises the importance of recycling for children.  Installing a sustainable playground in your local council area or school also communicates to your community that sustainability is a priority for you.

3. Go Deeper

For children who want to learn more, encourage them to take advantage of online and in-person resources to learn more about sustainability and the environment. Point families in the direction of websites such as Cool Australia which as activities about recycling and ocean conservation, online games about being energy efficient at home, or live streams at locations such as Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or Taronga Zoo to see animals in action.

Try setting up a display in your school or council library aimed at kids with books and movies about recycling and offering workshops for kids about how to mend their own clothes or use waste to make art projects. This also offers children the chance to connect with one another and share the excitement around saving the planet.

Sustainable practices for children should be fun. Kids learn best through play and finding creative, exciting ways to engage them in sustainability will increase the likelihood of them continuing habits into adulthood. Anthropologist Margaret Mead famously once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Today’s children can grow up to be those citizens, eagerly championing sustainable practices and making a difference for generations to come.

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