Categories: Green

3 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sustainability

Many families believe that sustainability today is critical for safeguarding the planet and protect future generations from the consequences of limited resources. From water to building materials, and even power, the resources we use today are resources that are at risk for not being around to sustain our children or their children.

As a society, we often take things like clean drinking water and breathable air for granted. Most U.S. cities are somewhat insulated from the catastrophic, and often devastating, consequences of failing to maintain clean air and water.

Making sustainable choices today, and leading a sustainable lifestyle will help to reduce the risks of depleting these precious resources in the future for the sake of modern conveniences and the accumulation of more “things” today.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a practice that involves conserving resources so they will be around for future use. It works in two primary ways.

  1. Limiting the use of limited resources.
  2. Restoring and/or replacing resources that have been used.

Acts of sustainability can go by many different names. Some might refer to reforestation as a sustainability act. However, there is one overriding commitment at the heart and soul of all sustainable actions, preserving resources for future generations.

As ordinary people, we far too often turn to governments, scientists, and major corporations to make sustainability decisions on our behalf. Unfortunately, too many in these sectors have their own personal agendas, and do little to address the problem. That’s why, as consumers, it’s more important than ever to make sustainable choices in your daily life, and to teach your children about these choices, and why they are so important as well.

Benefits of Teaching Your Kids About Sustainability

This world is what we have to leave behind for the sake of our children. It is our gift to them. Those of us who are concerned about the planet owe it to our children to teach them the importance of sustainability, so they can do the same for their children.

More than that, though, teaching your children about sustainability helps you share your values with them in meaningful ways. After all, sustainability isn’t something you can simply provide lip service to. It is actionable. It is something you make a choice to do every day.

Teaching your kids about sustainability helps them understand why it’s so important. Following a sustainable lifestyle for their entire lives helps them understand that it isn’t a sacrifice to do. It makes it easier for them to follow in your low-carbon footprints, and lead sustainable lives of their own at home, at school, at work, and at play.

The more people who make sustainable choices, the longer this earth can sustain the human race without giving over to starvation, toxic airways, and contaminated waterways. Teaching them these important lessons now improves the chances that they can share what they’ve learned with others while leading sustainable lifestyles of their own.

3 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sustainability

There are three primary ways you can teach your kids about the importance of sustainability. From teaching them what sustainability is to showing them, by your own actions, how to put the principles of sustainability into practice. Finally, show them by making buying decisions that promote sustainable businesses, products, and industries every time you shop. In many cases, your dollars speak louder than your words. These are the three ways that really teach your children about sustainability.

  1. Words
  2. Deeds
  3. Buying choices

They can make a world of difference in your efforts to teach your children about sustainability and why it is so important, even urgent, for them to take up the cause along with you.

1. Teach them the Consequences of Unsustainable Lifestyles

Tell your children what will happen to the planet if we use up all the resources. Be honest, but keep it age appropriate. There is no need to give your children nightmares at younger ages, though you can certainly offer further explanations as they get older.

For young children, consider reading books that promote sustainability and tending to the planet as primary themes, like:

These books help plant age-appropriate seeds of sustainable living in young children, so they can grow into older children, teens, and adults who are deeply committed to doing their parts to conserve resources by making sustainable living choices.

Older children and teens may not need books to help reinforce the lessons you teach at home, but your words can help them understand why you choose to lead a sustainable life, and why you feel it is important for them to do so as well. By explaining why it is so important to you, you can often convince your older children to follow the examples you’ve worked so hard to create.

2. Be an Example for Your Children to Follow

Your children will hear what you say, but they are far more likely to do what you do. For better or worse, there is a lot of truth in that statement. If you are committed to living a sustainable lifestyle, your children are far more likely to follow your example. The more choice you make promoting sustainability and care for the planet and its limited resources, the more likely it becomes that your children will do the same. These are great places to begin:

  • Reduce waste. Stop buying more than you need, and when you must make purchases, consider second-hand purchases, items with greener packaging, and items that create little waste or byproducts. Quit using bottled water and plastic shopping bags. Invest in reusable bottles and bags instead.
  • Reuse items whenever possible. Cut up old tee shirts to use as cleaning rags; donate outgrown children’s clothes, books, and toys to charity; upcycle old furniture and other household items.
  • Recycle things. Do this for recyclable items that you can’t reuse or reduce.
  • Plant trees and food. These things reduce your reliance on supermarkets for food, and help provide oxygen, shade, and sustenance for you and those around you.
  • Conserve water. Use rain barrels to collect water, use grey water for landscaping, and don’t allow water to run continuously while brushing teeth, soaping up in the shower, or washing dishes.
  • Turn off lights. In rooms when you aren’t using them or during daylight hours when they aren’t needed, turn off the lights.Consider installing tubular sky lighting to provide bright light inside your home throughout the day.
  • Set your thermostats for efficiency. Do this to reduce utility use during the hours when your family is sleeping or working during the day.

These small actions can deliver huge results for the planet and its limited resources. Especially if everyone practices them. The more people who follow these practices, the greater that impact becomes.

3. Buy Items from Organizations that Practice Sustainability

Sustainable buying choices, however, speak huge volumes with your children. In a world where so many items are designed to be disposal and infinitely replaceable, choosing to invest in items that are made with quality and built to last makes an impression.

Don’t simply make sustainable buying choices. Explain to your children why it is important to do so, despite so many others buying a new mobile phone with each new release, or a new car every two or three years. Let them know that it is better for the planet and for the people who call it home to buy products that will last longer, create fewer emissions, and generate less waste.

It is even better if you can purchase products from companies that actively seek sustainability when making their products, like organizations that plant trees, provide clean drinking, and support other environmental and sustainability initiatives.

4. Bonus Idea: Grow a Vegetable Garden With Your Child

Gardening is one of the biggest, most important opportunities to teach your children about sustainability in action. Especially if you get them to work your garden with you. It will teach them important lessons about growing cycles, life cycles, planting without chemicals, controlling pests without pesticides, and preserving and saving food for later consumption once it arrives.

Canning your own fruits, vegetables, jellies, etc. also allows them to use specific reusable canning jars rather than disposable one-time use cans or plastic bags from supermarkets. It also teaches them greater respect for food, making them far less wasteful of it, and encourages them to try more foods than children who have had no hand in growing the foods themselves.

The most important benefit of planting and growing a vegetable garden for teaching your children about sustainability is the memories this will create. Not only will your child always know how to grow his or her own food, but your child will have amazing memories of time spent working the soil, growing food, harvesting, and preserving food for future use.

PlushBeds understands the finite value of limited planetary resources. We seek to create products that use quickly replenishable resources and manufacturing processes that do no harm to the planet. Our commitment to our customers is one of creating sustainable healthful products to bring into your home and expose to your family. We hope you will work with us to lead more sustainable lives and teach our children to do the same.

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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