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Sustainability has become an increasingly-popular hot topic in recent years. With subjects like climate change, pollution, and carbon emissions at the forefront of everyone’s mind, more people are starting to recognize the importance of sustainable living.
If things don’t change, future generations will be greatly impacted by everything from extreme environmental conditions to declining water supplies. Issues like climate change will even have a negative impact on the economy. So, not only is it important to practice sustainability in your own life, but to teach your kids how to be more conscious of the environment, too.
Leading by example is one of the best ways to encourage your kids to live a sustainable lifestyle. But, it’s also essential to educate them on the benefits of sustainability. While you’re doing that, try to have a little fun with them. Your kids are more likely to retain information and keep their sustainable efforts going if they know that doing something good for the planet can be entertaining.
So, what can you do to make sustainable living fun for kids and encourage eco-friendly habits that will last a lifetime?
Wipe Out Waste
One of the biggest issues we face as a country is the amount of waste produced every year. The U.S. leads the world in trash production with 250 million tons a year. Reducing the waste in your household can be one of the best places to start with your kids because it’s easy to turn it into a fun game.
First, teach your kids about waste and how it’s filling up our landfills. When your children are able to see how what they do on a daily basis can have a long-term impact on the future, they’re more likely to take it seriously.
Then, you can create a “system” in your household to keep waste at a minimum. Consider having an area with different bins for trash, recycling, and composting. Let your children get a little competitive by seeing who can reduce the most waste in a week, or who can recycle more. Reducing the waste produced in your home is easier than you might think, and can take just a few small changes, such as:
Buying a reusable water bottle instead of using plastic
Using canvas grocery bags
Purchasing items that come in recyclable packaging
Avoiding single-use containers and utensils
Buying used goods
When your children get excited about reducing their waste, they’ll want to carry that practice into everything they do. Consider having a zero-waste birthday party for them with electronic invites, recyclable tableware, and food from local distributors. Having a zero-waste party will help your child show their friends how easy and fun it can be to do something good for the planet.
Teach Them About the Right Products
Because of the greater demand for sustainability, consumers are starting to be a bit pickier when it comes to the companies and brands they support. For example, fast fashion companies have come under fire for contributing to textile waste, while some businesses are guilty of “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is the practice of creative marketing — but, it isn’t always what it seems. If you see a product that uses eco-friendly buzzwords like “pure”, “natural”, or “organic”, be sure to do your research. While it’s unethical for companies to brand their products as something green, it’s not illegal depending on the wording they use.
Educate yourself on how to spot greenwashed marketing, and pass that knowledge onto your children. Look for things like generic language, a lack of proof when it comes to sustainability, and little to no transparency from the company about their practices. Additionally, if a product is packaged in plastic or has added chemicals and preservatives, you can be fairly certain right away that it isn’t as “green” as it may seem.
Try More Sustainable Activities
Engaging your kids in more eco-friendly activities is a great way to let them see how fun sustainability can be. You can start these activities within your own home, and expand from there once your children are interested.
Stumped for ideas? Try home projects like:
Decluttering/donating items to a local thrift store
Remodeling a room and using eco-friendly paint
Changing some of your home decorating with homemade or repurposed items
Planting a tree outside
Starting a vegetable garden with their favorite things to eat
Play to your children’s interests when it comes to trying sustainable activities. If they like being outside, show them how taking care of the planet can let them get their hands dirty. If they’re creative and artistic, introduce them to sustainable art supplies or encourage them to use their creativity to create something out of used materials.
There are endless ways to make sustainable living fun for kids. They’ll love knowing they’re doing something good for the environment, and when they see how easy some of the changes can be, those changes will quickly turn into lifelong habits. If everyone took the time to make sustainable living more enticing for kids, the next generation could be the one that rescues our ailing planet.
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