Experiments to Educate Family Members on Sustainability

Jori Hamilton - Contributing Writer


Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021


Sustainability has become a popular topic in recent years. But, it’s more than just a buzzword – it’s a necessity. Sustainability efforts are crucial to preserving our environment and protecting the planet. That starts at home. 


One of the best ways to educate your family on sustainability and why it matters is to do experiments! It will give them a hands-on opportunity to do their part, learn about things that are damaging to the environment, and what they can do on a daily basis to make a change. 


You don’t have to be a science guru to create exciting and educational experiments at home. Let’s cover a few sustainability experiments you can do with your family to change everyone’s habits and to make a sustainable future more of a priority. You might already have some of the necessary supplies on hand, so you can get started right away. 

Get Creative With Cleaning

If you’re already in the midst of spring cleaning, there are plenty of ways to be more sustainable and teach valuable lessons at the same time. 


One of the easiest experiments to get started with is creating your own household cleaning products. Most commercial products contain chemicals that no one can pronounce, and some of them can be damaging to the environment. They could also impact your own health!


Thankfully, making homemade cleaning products is easy. You’ll know exactly what’s going in them, you can avoid any potential allergens or skin irritants, as well as use it as a teaching moment. Not only can you educate your family on the properties of certain ingredients (like vinegar, and why it cleans so well), but you can explain why using homemade products is safer and better for the environment. Some of the best ingredients you can use for homemade cleaning solutions include: 


  • Vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Lemon juice

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Natural salt

  • Essential oils


When using these ingredients or similar ones, be sure to also be aware of possible allergic reactions, either respiratory or on the skin. This also includes potential skin irritants, especially when using essential oils, as undiluted oils can sometimes lead to skin irritation and other discomfort.


Do some side by side testing with your homemade cleaners and some store-bought standards. Chart the differences. Which cleaners work better for what job?

Wipe Out Food Waste

In 2018, the U.S. alone produced over 100 million tons of food waste. It’s a trend that isn’t slowing down, and that’s a dangerous path to be on. Food waste is a problem for the environment because it produces powerful greenhouse gases that can damage the ozone layer. Food waste is also a good indicator of water waste, since the agriculture needed to produce it uses most of the world’s fresh water and groundwater. 


You can cut down on food waste in your own home by conducting a fun experiment with your family. Have them “chart” how much food they waste in a week. Anything they throw away, they need to write down. You can even turn it into a competition. 


At the end of the week, have everyone total up their food waste, and see who has the most and the least. It can really put the amount of food you throw away into perspective. It will also open up a conversation with you and your kids about why waste is so serious. 


From there, you can take active steps to reduce food waste in your family, such as smaller portions, shopping locally, and composting. In fact, composting is another experiment on its own! You can teach your family how and why things break down, and what you can do to give back to the planet through composted soil. Do the same “chart” experiment every few months to see if there are changes being made. 

The Importance of Hands-On Learning

Everyone learns in different ways, but hands-on experiments are a great way to directly involve your kids and get them interested in something they might not otherwise know about. Experiential learning, or learning by doing, is one of the best ways for kids and adults alike to learn and retain new information every day. The benefits include: 


  • The opportunity to immediately apply the knowledge gained

  • An improved sense of motivation to learn more

  • Real-world benefits they can use to create change


Your family members might not think they’re interested in science, but when you’re able to create experiments that combine science with everyday life, you could quickly find that your own children could have some young scientist tendencies. It’s a fantastic way to get them interested in how the world works. More importantly, it can get them interested in changing the world for the better. 


The current sustainability statistics across the globe are extremely disturbing. What’s even scarier is that they’re expected to get worse in the next 30 years if extreme changes aren’t made. By starting experiments at home that educate your family on sustainability, you can help the next generation make better choices for themselves and the planet. 


When you’re able to introduce experiments that your family can see results with every day, they’re more likely to keep them going throughout their lives and pass them on to the next generation. You’re not just conducting an experiment. You’re cultivating environmentally-friendly habits.

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