Help Your Kids Grow up Green by Instilling These 8 Eco-Friendly Habits


The world faces environmental challenges on various fronts — climate change, air pollution, food waste and biodiversity loss, to name a few. Today’s adults must lead the fight against them, but only the next generation can win the battle.

Why Is It Important to Teach Children About the Environment?

Teaching your children about the environment is essential because it’s the only way they can appreciate it. Most kids are curious about their surroundings, so being inquisitive about nature is natural to them.

Nourish their desire to learn about plants, animals, the weather — the whole nine yards. Helping your little ones understand the role of the planet in every living organism’s existence and their place in it can encourage environmental stewardship. They’re more likely to buy into sustainable initiatives when they have a strong sense of connection to the natural world.

Moreover, eco-friendly kids are invaluable assets in the fight against pressing environmental ills. They’re consumers from the day they’re born. Children who live until age 76 — the average American’s life span — will spend their next seven decades making decisions that directly impact the environment.

Educating them about green practices at an early age empowers them to make choices that benefit the planet. Raising the next generation to be a force for good will populate the world with eco-friendly individuals and move the needle toward sustainability.

How Children Can Be Eco-Friendly

Children can be eco-friendly in many ways, but they can adopt positive habits to help solve environmental issues only when they:

  • Are accountable for their actions.
  • Feel empathy toward wildlife and other people.
  • Have the resolve to go on even when it’s inconvenient.

Being an excellent role model for your kids should go without saying. They listen to what you say and mimic what you do. The flip side is that your young ones can also absorb negative characteristics like a sponge. Strive to be on your best behavior to keep your actions from contradicting your words as an environmental steward when your little eco-warriors are watching.

Going Green for Kids — Top 8 Eco-Friendly Habits

Children can understand complex scientific concepts through engaging stories. However, such knowledge can be impractical, for they don’t make big decisions yet. Still, instilling these eight eco-friendly habits can help your little ones be instrumental in making a difference.

1. Conserving Energy and Water

Encourage your children to use electricity, heating fuel and water moderately. Turning off the light when they leave the room and unplugging electronic devices when unused are simple decisions that can translate to significantly less power usage in the long run.

Teach them to wear extra clothing for warmth instead of adjusting the thermostat to a higher temperature during the cold months. This is the most environmentally responsible thing your kids can do when your furnace or boiler runs on natural gas, propane or heating oil.

Prompt your children to be more mindful when bathing to conserve water. Recommend they shower as an alternative to a bath whenever possible. Showering consumes 10 to 25 gallons of water, while a bath can take up to 70 gallons. Keeping their bathing sessions short is also water-saving.

2. Spending Time Outdoors

Caring about nature can be difficult without being out in it. Watching documentaries can be enlightening, but nothing helps your young explorers experience the outdoors and expand their world better than regularly taking them outside.

Picking up rocks in the park leads to earthworm encounters. Going for walks in an arboretum lets them look more closely at native flora and learn their roles in the ecosystem. Visiting local zoos that entertainingly promote conservation education can help them develop compassion for wildlife, grasp why natural habitats matter and learn ways to safeguard various species from extinction.

3. Picking up Litter

Make it a mission to bring a garbage bag and a trash picker whenever you go to a public place with your kids. Training them to pick up litter when they see it and put it in its proper place can make this behavior second nature to them as adults.

Many children don’t consider spontaneous cleanup a fun idea, so make it more enticing. Doing it together, thinking of rewards and making it a contest are effective ways to motivate your little ones to participate.

4. Riding a Bike

Biking lets your kids depend less on driving to get from point A to point B, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. This aerobic exercise engages various muscle groups, improves balance and coordination, prevents childhood obesity, builds confidence, and promotes independence and responsibility.

Appreciating the merits of biking at a young age can encourage your kids to consider it a default mode of transportation when they become adults. It incentivizes them to live in walkable and bikeable cities instead of burning gallons of gas daily and commuting to and from work.

Not owning a car can help reduce the demand for new automobiles. Although electric vehicles (EVs) may be the norm when your kids are old enough to drive, riding a bike is still more environmentally sound. EVs are zero-emission but heavily depend on mining virgin resources, particularly cobalt, which has long-term negative environmental consequences.

5. Being Minimalist

Consumption — especially regarding food — is the root of most environmental problems. Ingraining simplicity and contentment in your children makes more responsible consumers, indirectly keeping nature green. Planning purchases carefully and choosing to buy high-quality, multidimensional and long-lasting items is environmentally sound, financially accountable and psychologically beneficial.

Minimalist children surround themselves with what they truly value. They avoid the immaterial to have more bandwidth to focus on what matters in life and behave more sustainably.

6. Reusing Items

Buying used goods and repurposing old items can help kids develop a circular mindset. Circularity is about minimizing waste whenever possible. Recycling supports this idea, but prolonging the usefulness of existing products is more eco-friendly.

Minimalist kids are more willing to use pre-loved things. They don’t associate newness with happiness, so they’re more likely to see the value of secondhand items.

7. Segregating Garbage

Waste-sorting at home can help your kids see garbage differently. Telling them to throw recyclables and nonrecyclables in separate bins activates a switch in their brains, helping them recognize trash variety and distinguish one from another. This realization can profoundly affect their worldview, encouraging them to pay more attention to what they consume and their impacts on the planet.

Bring your children with you when you drop off your recyclable waste. This way, they can see the payout of their sorting efforts.

8. Creating a Garden

Growing greenery at home is eco-friendly on many levels. It helps purify indoor air, make the surroundings cooler, incentivize composting and eliminate the need to buy unhealthy imported food items. Getting your kids actively involved in gardening teaches them practical skills and gives them a fulfilling hobby.

Little Eco-Warriors Are Lifelong Environmental Allies

Raising the next generation to be eco-friendly is the most significant contribution any environmentally conscious person could make. Encouraging your kids to develop green habits can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.

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