By Vyshnavee Vikranth
While it’s hard to explain sustainability to adults, it’s even harder to explain to children. Not only is it possible but also essential to raise eco-friendly children. Here are some steps to get started.
Tell them why
Kids are more likely to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours as they grow if they understand why they are important to them.
Rather than generalizing statements like “do this to help the planet”, teach about sustainability by finding ways to associate their actions with something they care deeply about. Let’s say your child is fond of pets, show them how animals fall sick or even die when they eat plastics thrown on the roads.
If your child loves eating seafood, for example, talk to them about the importance of keeping water systems clean so he or she can continue to enjoy their favourite foods.
Set goals to reduce the carbon you emit as a family
Setting goals together can be a fun activity to do. Agree to reward yourselves when these goals are achieved.
Observe the monthly power bills, water bills and fuel expenses. Together, identify what has been spent on needs vs wants. They will see for themselves that running the clothes dryer in sunny weather is a wasteful expense. Let kids take the lead in identifying ways to reduce consumption. Talk to them about the benefits of public transport, alternative energy sources etc. Set goals and make simple joint decisions to reduce consumption. Appreciate the fruits of one’s labour by enjoying a day out or catching a movie when monthly goals are achieved!
Experiences vs products
Consumerism is killing our planet.
Prioritize experiences over “stuff”. Encourage a childhood that is flowing with simple pleasures rather than trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Cook a meal together, ride that cycle long forgotten in your garage, paint some fun portraits or sign up for some dance lessons!
Value the outdoors
It’s hard to get fired up about sustainability unless it’s understood what’s at stake. If our children love nature, they’ll be more likely to fight for it.
Foster a love for nature with regular trips to parks and play grounds in both good and bad weather! Unstructured play in these spaces can be impactful. Cubbon Park and Lalbagh Botanical Garden are the most popular and easily accessible through metro rail.
Bangalore offers various options for some outdoor fun. Make an early morning trip to a lake and indulge in some bird watching. There are several around Bangalore. Websites like Campmonk.com offer great camping experiences for the entire family. Risa Astronomy is a personal favourite to observe and understand the solar system while camping under the stars. Look them up on instagram @risaastronomy.
Another great way to appreciate the outdoors is to cycle with your children. www.pedalintandem.com organises short but exhilarating family trips.
Show them where food comes from
When kids understand where food comes from, they’re less likely to waste it. Teach your children that food does not originate at the supermarket.
Grow some food. Plant tiny pots of methi and dhaniya. Allow them to take the lead from sowing to harvesting. Enjoy the process, not just the outcomes! Discuss how they can be cooked and enjoy a day with your little sous chefs.
Make a monthly trip to a farmer’s market. Ragi Kana organised at a school in Bannerghatta Road every Sunday is a great place to visit. A quick Google search will give you more details.
Visit working farms around your city. Farms invite volunteers to pick mangoes during the summer. Bangalore has several that seek to engage the community in the food growing process in ways that are fun and laid-back.
Check out Chiguru Farm
Turn it into a game
Everyone loves a game, especially kids.
Give them a cup of water to brush their teeth instead of leaving the tap on. This is guaranteed to be a great time for young kids.
Make eating an entire meal something to be celebrated.
Get your child a home composting kit. Compost all vegetable and fruit peels. Let kids observe that natural systems are cyclic – what is made in nature goes right back into it. Take pride in the process. Let the compost nourish the plants you are growing at home.
Place a jar for kids to collect their dry waste individually – chocolate wrappers, bits of paper – This also allows them to observe how much we consume that is packaged and comes from a factory rather than from the soil.
Lead by example. It starts with us!
ENSYDE’s Planeteers initiative provides hands on social, relevant and creative experiences on environmental issues. Read about the initiative here: Planeteers – Home