We all know how important it is to behave in a way that is kind to the environment, but how can we teach our children to do the same? More than ever, it is essential that the next generation grows up with a sense of responsibility and respect for the planet and there are plenty of little ways for parents to raise eco-conscious children. To make it as straightforward as possible for you, we have rounded up our five favourite ways to encourage your children to make environmentally friendly choices, every day.
From the way bluebells persist in popping up in every flower bed each spring to how even the greenest of grass turns yellow in the summer sun and is later reborn lush and long, your garden can serve as an endlessly fascinating interactive classroom for your child. If you don’t have access to private outdoor space, don’t worry. Whether it’s your local park or nearby woodland, one of the best ways to teach your children just how important the environment is, is to spend time in it. Give them time to get curious and explore: climb trees, collect leaves and get to know nature on their own terms.
Once your little one starts school, they will begin to learn essential information about the flowers and trees that they see in the world around them; however they are never too young to get started. Children will not only learn to respect plants and everything they do to keep us humans healthy and happy, the process of growing something from seed to sapling is a great confidence-booster for kids of all ages. Through this, they will learn responsibility, not just for individual plants, but for the environment as an entire system that requires thoughtful care to remain in balance.
As simple as it seems, small habits such as turning off lights, power switches and bathroom taps can make a big difference to your household energy and water consumption. Everytime you leave a room carrying your baby, make a point of switching off the lights and telling them why. As they get a little bit older and able to reach out and use their fingers, carefully bring them in line with the switch so they can tap it themselves. As your baby becomes a toddler and beyond, make this ritual of turning off the lights together into a little game that they will always remember when they grow up.
Whether this means literally leaving the car at home and walking to the shops instead of driving, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to lead by example. Point out excess plastic packaging in supermarkets, sort through the recycling together each week and remind them every time they finish a snack when you’re out and about just how important it is not to litter. These everyday nudges will stick in your little ones’ minds and stay with them as they grow up, to help them become environmentally-conscious, sustainably-focus adults.
From the food that you buy to the stories that you tell them at bedtime, there are so many little ways to bring the importance of the environment into your everyday life. TV shows, films and books are a powerful tool to reinforce all of your own everyday teachings on eco-conscious behaviour: from tales of their favourite animals living peacefully in their natural habitats to the life stories of key figures, such as David Attenborough, who can inspire and educate little minds on the impact of their own actions.
To support your little one’s environmental education, choose clothing, toys and gifts that reflect these eco-friendly values. From sustainably sourced and made puzzles and play sets to organic cotton sleepsuits and keepsakes crafted from recycled metals, shop our Sustainable Edit for gifts made with love, not just for your little one, but for the planet, too. Don’t forget to tag us @My1stYears and use #My1stYears on social media so we can share the environmental love with you!
My 1st Years x