We spend a lot of time and effort during our children’s early years instilling proper values and manners, honing their literacy and numeracy skills, and making sure they meet their developmental milestones. However, this past year has taught me that it is equally as important that we educate our children to love and care for our environment too. After all, this planet that we live in is the only one we have. How we treat it will significantly impact the quality of our daily lives today and for generations to come.
How can we encourage our kids to develop eco-friendly habits? Here are a few ideas I have tried at home that I would love to share with you. They may be simple, but here’s hoping it goes a long way!
1. Get the conversation going
Include conversations about the environment and the importance of caring for it as you go about your day. I try to talk about how we can reduce food waste while I am preparing meals or talk about the benefits of conserving water when my children are brushing their teeth. There are also plenty of fun books you could read together to get a discussion going. My kids love Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax and Greta and the Giants. If your family does movie nights, include films with a green-theme such as Wall-E or Over the Hedge.
2. Encourage their love for nature
Providing your children plenty of outdoor time is not only beneficial for their health, but it will also help them build an appreciation for nature. When outside, I take the opportunity to point out the plants and animals and discuss why we must respect and protect their habitat. If you are more comfortable staying indoors due to concerns over Covid-19, you could also nurture the love for nature by working on simple gardening projects together. Grow an okra plant in a pot on your balcony or even easier, grow taugeh in a bottle – this way, you are also teaching them to grow their own food and to recycle!
3. Don’t just recycle, upcycle!
The process of extracting and converting plastic from non-renewable petrochemicals is a major contributor to climate change. As much as possible, we try to purchase items packaged in safer materials for our planet such as plastic made from sugarcane.
With the plastic that we do have, instead of sending it all off for recycling, we try to refill or reuse it. We keep a stash in an easily accessible basket in our home for the kids to get creative with. The goal is to encourage them to turn “trash” into something beautiful and useful. Jam jars can be pencil holders, lotion bottles can be toy boats, milk cartons can be bird feeders. Let their imagination take flight!
4. Make mindful purchases
As my kids grow older, I get them involved in our regular household purchases by having conversations about mindful shopping. This not only teaches them the vital life skill of budgeting but also to be aware of how their buying habits might affect the environment. I try to encourage them to make purchases only when necessary. You can find more helpful tips on zero waste grocery shopping on this blog.
As a household, we always look out for companies with a strong ethical stance and are committed to sustainable practices. Companies such as ecostore produces eco-friendly household products using biodegradable ingredients, zero-carbon manufacturing, and sugarcane plastic bottles. They are committed to a greener environment and are continuously pursuing energy and resource conservation. Since moving to sugarcane plastic in 2014, ecostore has saved 7,676 tonnes (and counting) of carbon from being released into the air!
5. Lead by example
Children learn from models all around them – at home, at school, from Youtube. We get the kids involved in eco-friendly community programmes and introduce them to other eco-warriors. Places such as Kebun-kebun Bangsar, Free Tree Society, the Malaysian Nature Society’s UCF nursery have volunteer programmes that we try to participate in every month or so. It is not only an educational outing but a fun activity the whole family enjoys.
6. From farm to table
Mealtimes with kids can be stressful on its own. Trying to be conscious of the environment while making my kids eat can bring stress levels pretty high. One thing my kids love is listening to stories. So I take the opportunity to create awareness simply by telling them a story about where our food comes from – a carrot’s journey from the farm to the table for example, and how the process affects us and mother earth.
7. Conserve and reduce waste
Turning off the iPad when not in use and finishing our food and drinks are simple habits that can significantly impact the environment. Talk to your kids about why conservation is essential. If you need help getting the message to sink in, the internet is a treasure trove of educational games and videos that cover this topic, such as this site.
I also encourage my kids to reduce waste by taking things, such as paint, in smaller portions and adding more later when it is needed. If there are any leftover materials, we try to save it for the next time.
I hope these simple tips can kick start a life-long journey on a greener path for our children. For more inspiration, talk to like-minded family and friends or search sites such as this for eco-friendly ideas that would work for your family.
What are some environmentally-friendly values do you share with your children? I would love to know. Do share at [email protected]
By Dania Hashim
This listicle is a sponsored post by ecostore.
ecostore makes it easy for you to choose safer, effective products that care for your family’s home and health while respecting the environment. Their household cleaners, laundry, body care, skin care, baby care and oral care products are cruelty-free and made from naturally derived ingredients that have been selected because they’re gentle, safe and sustainable. These eco-friendly offerings are designed by a world-class research and development team to be effective for all your household needs. With ecostore, you can be sure that any item you choose is part of a mission to make the world a safer place, one person, and one home at a time.