How to introduce sustainable living to kids

As our population continues to grow, never has it been more important to consider our responsibility to the planet and to ensure its health and prosperity for future generations. By teaching our children how to embrace sustainable living, we’re implementing these values and helping cultivate positive change for the environment.

So what can we do to generate a sustainable mindset in the next generation?

9 WAYS TO TEACH SUSTAINABILITY

Start composting and growing your own

Waste is a huge issue in Australia, but there are ways to utilise kitchen waste at home that benefit the environment. Getting kids used to repurposing organic waste from the kitchen to feed the garden is a great way to reduce kitchen waste and get kids thinking green.

Composting kitchen waste can be as simple as burying food scraps in your garden or buying a specialised composting bin. Keep a list of foods and scraps that can be composted on the fridge to get your kids used to sorting waste.

Composting and growing your own vegetables or herbs goes hand-in-hand; your kitchen waste composts to form nutritious soil, which in turn feeds your growing crop. Planting seeds, tending to the shoots and harvesting is a fun activity for kids, promotes healthy eating and a better understanding of where our food comes from. Choose fast-growing foods/plants first to spark their interest, you could also try growing fruits and vegetables from scraps too.

Collect rain water and use greywater

Water management is an extremely important issue, especially in Australia where rainfall can be low and the summers long and hot. Most homes use water all the time, for cooking, cleaning, laundry, watering the garden, washing the car and washing ourselves, and 80% of the water we ‘use’ at home is wasted. There are little things we can do to help implement a water conscious household, from collecting waste water, reusing greywater and turning the tap off when we are brushing our teeth.

Avoid single-use plastics and packaging

Plastic takes a long time to break down and is a big problem for the planet, especially when it comes to packaging and single-use products that have a short useful lifecycle. Currently Australian’s use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year and 3.76 bags are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year.

Switch your household over to reusable shopping bags for the grocery shopping, buy long lasting reusable drink bottles and drink cups instead of disposing of single-use options. Generally look to invest in long-lasting reusable products made from sustainable materials and teach your kids how to look for the recycling icon and to dispose of plastics appropriately.

Food for thought

How the food we consume is grown, harvested and packaged is important and has a huge effect on the planet. Approximately 40% of the whole world’s land surface is used to farm meat for food, which means we lose nutrient-rich forest lands and increase the use of fossil fuels and chemicals to farm our meat for consumption. Introducing meat-free meals and making your children aware of the difference between organic produce, grass versus grain-fed and the importance of choosing locally grown and seasonal rather than imported produce.

Recycle

Recycling manmade materials that already exist on this planet is an essential way to keep materials waste out of landfill. Recycling at home is a great way to introduce children to the concept of sorting their rubbish and taking responsibility for their own waste. Set up a clearly labelled recycling system that indicates what waste is accepted and if it can be recycled.

Waste free lunchboxes

Many lunchbox items come in a handy, readily-available packet that fits easily into the lunchbox and stay fresh until lunchtime, but the daily package waste builds up quickly. Get children used to enjoying a waste-free launch and promote sustainability awareness. Choose reusable containers that come with handy separate sections so you don’t need to use GLAD® Wrap or sandwich bags. There are also reusable, GLAD® Wrap alternatives like Bee Green Wraps. Australian made by virtually zero wastage, these cotton sheets are infused with beeswax and are reusable for up to a year! You simply use the warmth of your hands and fold the paper around your food items, just as you would with cling film.

Parties

Kid’s birthday parties are always something to look forward to, but from the balloons, disposable cups, plates, cutlery, confetti, straws and decorations, parties produce a lot of waste. Opting for reusable decorations not only protects the environment, but making bunting, paper chains and hanging paper balloons can be a fun activity for kids. Switch party bags for old jars, or repurpose newspaper or fabric as an eco-alternative.

Cleaning-up

Cleaning up at home is something we all do on a daily basis, and is something we believe can be done with minimal impact on the environment. Cleaning with ENJO is a great way for your kids to help with the house work, with no chemicals, just water and fibres it’s entirely safe – and it’s sustainable too. ENJO cleaning products last for up to 3 years and are then upcycled by ENJO HQ after their cleaning life, minimising waste in landfill and reducing the use of toxic chemicals that enter the environment.

TIPS FOR MAKING IT FUN

Be positive

Sustainability is a must for the planet, but getting into the ‘what-ifs’ with kids could be daunting. Position lifestyle changes as positive little steps towards doing our bit for the planet and making a difference. Every little helps!

Get creative

Upcycling, repurposing and putting kids in charge of projects is a great way to introduce responsibility into their routine, but also gives them the chance to be creative and have fun. Before recycling or throwing anything away, challenge kids to reuse first. Pinterest is an amazing resource for creative projects that turn trash into treasure.

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