As you are no doubt aware, it’s the next generation – our kids – that will be left with whatever state the world is in after we are gone. I don’t know about you, but I intend to do everything possible to protect the earth and pass them a brighter future. A crucial part of that mission is instilling those same values in my children from the beginning.
Here are five ways to start now.
1 Simplify your stuff
Ok yes, I know this sounds kinda backwards but hear me out! We are constantly bombarded with marketing. Countless times in every day we are exposed to messages that say to buy, consume, conform. We are told we HAVE to have the new XYZ item because what we have isn’t good enough, or we won’t be happy, or maybe even that we aren’t good enough without it. If we can build our kids a shield from these messages by helping them live with intention instead of consumerism we will (with any luck) see them grow up grateful for what they have and happy with simplicity. I believe this starts with walking a journey towards minimalism, simplicity and intentionality as a family.
2 Clean Up Wherever You Go
Whenever you go to a park or beach take a moment to carefully collect rubbish. Whether your child is big enough to help or not just seeing you do it sends a powerful message. Just be mindful of any dangers like broken glass, needles or spiders. You may find soon enough your kids are asking you for a bag or container because they have found some bottles that need to be picked up!
3 Get into the garden
Learning about life cycles, food production and composting is a great step towards learning to nurture our Earth! If you don’t have room for a garden what about a pot plant? Or a benchtop size aquaponics system! There is something special about watching a seed grow into a green sprout and then maybe even food! An alternative would be to head to the farmer’s markets and pick your vegetables together! Why not do both?
4 Revamp lunches
Involving your child/ren into making lunches as waste-free as possible is a great habit to build. I know those premade snacks are so easy and tempting! What about simply swapping the sandwich bag for a beeswax wrap, the muesli bar for whole fruit and the pouch of yoghurt for a jar? I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand where possible rather than buying more stuff. For me, I happily use a glass jar for some finger food snacks in my bag but this may or may not be suitable for your child’s age group/school policy. Whatever you do – it’s not about perfect, it’s just about getting your kids excited about packing with fewer disposables.
5 Be Curious
Whenever you see an opportunity – learn! Whether it be about animals; plants; water cycles; drought; recycling; composting, or landfill. You might learn about power production, mining or pollution; or upcycling and repairing broken things. Children’s minds are ripe for new information, always open and curious so take any opportunities you can to learn together about the world. Their curiosity might just come up with a solution for problems we are only just seeing.
My oldest daughter is only 4, and already she sees the world with a vision that sometimes I don’t. Recently after visiting the wildlife park, she picked up 3 hair ties in the carpark walking back to the car. The mum in me when to tell her that they are yucky – but she beat me to it saying they are old, dirty and she is bringing them home for the bin. I’ve learnt to always have a spare bag or container tucked away in the car so when we run errands she can collect any rubbish on the ground around us while we walk. Already she sees the problems and wants to do something about it. Oh, and she thinks DirtGirl is a superhero. In my daughter’s words “DirtGirl is a superhero. She is saving the planet, just like me.”
This article was written by Sarah Wooden of MecoBlue Tiny Living: mamma of two, DIY tiny house builder+dweller, writer, mentor and advocate for all things sustainable.