When it comes to leaning towards environmentalism and caring for the planet, children and adolescents are miles ahead of us. A recent study of children between the ages of eight and ten found that young people are not only often more ethical consumers than their parents, but are more aware of global issues than some adults give them credit for. For example, when a massive factory collapsed in India, children in the study were quite aware of the issues, to the surprise of some adults.
Topics such as the welfare of animals, factory farming, and overseas working conditions can be out of sight, out of mind, and even overwhelming to the average adult. But today’s young men and women show a consciousness of social and environmental topics that carry over into action. New parents are looking to teach their children about the environment from a young age. Raising the next generation of conscious consumers.
Here are some easy ways that you can teach your children to become the future environmental stewards of the planet:
1. Teach young people about recycling
Why we need to recycle, and why some things are accepted in the curbside bin (and others are not). Lead by example, and purchase products with recyclable or reusable packaging. Companies like Love Child Organics exhibit this dedication through investment in their TerraCycle partnership. TerraCycle allows its snack bags and pouches to be recycled nationally. You can learn more about signing up for the TerraCycle program here.
2. Reduce food waste
Buy only what you need. Show your children what items you are buying. Treat these items with care to teach them the importance of conscious shopping decisions. Educate your children about how much food families waste each year. In Canada, about $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters each year. That works our to about $31 per week, or $1,600 per year, that each household spends on food that is wasted. For times when food scraps are unavoidable, get kids involved in the act of composting.
3. Walk or bike whenever possible
Walking and biking is not just for helping families stay active. Is also offsets greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. A fun way to show your kids how they are helping the environment is with this carbon footprint calculator. It calculates the amount of CO2 you offset by choosing to bike, carpool, or take public transit.
4. Take cleaning out of the house
Next time you are out for a walk or at the park, turn beautification into a game. Whoever picks up the most litter, wins! This game is sometimes referred to as plogging. Once a Swedish fitness craze, now an international movement, plogging is a fun way to reduce waste and get outside. Search the hashtag #plogging on Instagram for inspiration, and post photos from your own efforts to share.
5. Make purchases count
Products are often mass-produced and designed to be convenient. But viewing our possessions as disposable or replaceable adds to our pollution problem. Teach children the value of the earth’s limited resources that go into making our everyday purchases. Whether it’s a new toy or pair of shoes, this is a great way to nurture an environmental outlook that children can carry into the future.
Tom Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle Canada, the company working for a less wasteful future by creating recycling programs for typically unrecyclable items, such as chip bags, food and drink pouches and candy wrappers, and changing our perspectives on consumption and waste. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.