When we talk about ‘future generations’, we are talking about the children of today and in the future. We know just how central children are to sustainable development, which is why sustainability is so important in everything that we do. Prince William and “Planet Earth” narrator Sir David Attenborough recently discussed the future of the planet and what can be done to save it at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland. Furthermore, last year, the Sustainable Development Goals, more commonly known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the world leaders and will be put into action from this year till 2030. So, how do we get the future generations, our children, to champion and follow through with these sustainable goals?
Sustainability can be a hard concept for adults to grasp, let alone children. The talks I have with my two young children about our "green lifestyle" take time and patience, but they are worth the effort. Here are a few of the most effective strategies I've found for incorporating eco-friendly practices into our family routine. I suggest focusing on one new habit at a time and gradually building from there. For my family, sustainability is a continual conversation but it's one of the most important ones we can have. Here are three of my favourite tips to get my children thinking and acting sustainable.
Help them learn about the big issue
Young people are our future, so it's worthwhile helping them to understand how they can look after their planet. Whether it's making recycling more fun or teaching them about all the amazing fruit and vegetables they can eat, be sure to let them know that they can make a positive difference to the world. For example, you can use a trip to the beach (wearing their sustainable swimwear) as an opportunity to teach them about the consequences of littering and other nature-damaging activities. Bring along some gloves and a bag to pick up rubbish, the children will enjoy feeling the impact that they have on the earth as they help clean up their own neighbourhood.
Get them outside
This simple activity goes a long way in teaching sustainability. Sharing in and appreciating a love of the outdoors will inspire kids to care for the Earth. You can also do planned outdoor activities such as growing your own organic food. This helps save on the distance food has to travel to get to you. Plus, it teaches kids to interact with nature.
Teaching children about “the three Rs” - reduce, reuse, and recycle - can be an excellent jumping-off point for a sustainability discussion. Finding ways to reduce your waste, reuse items, and recycle helps introduce children to being environmentally conscious. For example, children can become well-versed in repurposing materials and turning them into art supplies! Whether you’re using bottle caps, used paper, paper towel rolls, or something else entirely, the sky’s the limit with recyclable goods for crafts.
Remember, children are never too young to learn how to live sustainably and showing them the small ways that they can look after the environment will set them up for a bright and healthy future ahead.