5 ways to teach children to care for the environment

Reading time: 4 min

It is often said that our children are the future – and they are, in more ways than we can imagine. It’s easy to give them a healthy breakfast in the morning, and cuddles at the end of the day, but what can we do in the hours of our busy days to give them a better future? It’s important for us to look at how our actions will impact the world they get to experience.

The recent and ongoing drought in Cape Town has created a new awareness around the valuable resources we have previously taken for granted. Water is the most obvious of these, but what about fresh air, lush forests and clean oceans?

Here are five easy changes that you can make that will not only reduce your impact on the environment, but will help ensure a better, cleaner and happier future for our children.

1. Switch Off

While the idea of ‘unplugging’ has been likened to us intentionally taking a break from all technology, in reality we’re talking about switching things off – lights, TV, laptops, appliances, your Wi-Fi and even those gadgets or appliances that remain on stand-by after you’ve turned them off. Play your role in drawing as little unnecessary energy as possible (with the knock-on benefit of a reduced electricity bill!).

2. Reuse and rethink

With landfills filling faster than we can wrap our heads around, it makes sense to investigate what we can do differently to lessen our contribution. Use reusable or biodegradable coffee cups and baby wipes, bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel straws, glass bottles (for drinking and storage) and cloth dish covers and shopping bags.

It is time to rethink what we throw in the bin and consider if there is a better alternative out there – and for the most part, there is! Instead of buying plastic cups, bowls and cutlery for your kids, why not buy the exact same things made from a natural fibre such as bamboo? They are natural, biodegradable, BPA-free and a perfect replacement for chemical-leeching plastic food carriers.

“Taking your family to a farmers’ market on a Saturday morning is an enjoyable experience for everyone – and a great way to teach your kids where their food and body products come from.”

3. Buy local

The impact of buying local is much larger than you think. Not only are you supporting smaller businesses (which is vital for the growth of our local economy) but you’re reducing your carbon footprint and empowering those who are consciously aware.

Where possible, buy locally grown and organically produced products such as fruit, veg, meat and body products. Not only is this an intentional way of shopping, but it’s fun too! Taking your family to a farmers’ market on a Saturday morning is an enjoyable experience for everyone – and a great way to teach your kids where their food and body products come from.

4. Get moving

There is no shortage of reasons as to why we should exercise and use our feet more. Walk your kids to school, the shops, the park or the local café. Teach your children that walking is a preferable form of transport, where possible. From an environmental perspective, using your car less will help reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and harmful emissions pumped out into the atmosphere. From a health perspective, you can’t go wrong!

5. Switch to natural skincare

Many modern skincare products contain incredibly harsh chemicals that have a harmful effect on the environment (and your skin). One ingredient to avoid is microbeads. Rather look for natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced and are as happy coming out of nature as they are going back in.

Give your children the chance to swim in the reefs, enjoy the view from the top of Table Mountain and spot the Big Five at Kruger without thoughtless waste, pollution and destruction.

Also read:

9 tips for cultivating green munchkins
8 ways to grow environmentally aware children