There are so many things we want to teach our children. Obviously high up on the list is to be kind and respectful to all those they meet. We want them to listen to their teachers, do their homework, try their best and accept that they won’t always win every game or ace every test and that’s okay. There’s something else our kids should be aware of though, something they might not see or notice on a regular basis—the health of our planet. I never heard the terms “eco-friendly” or “green living” until my adult years. I was educated about recycling, photosynthesis, and how valuable trees are to our health and survival. However, I was never taught about composting, and no one ever asked me to really think about what goes into a trashcan and where it ends up. Now, this isn’t to say I blame my parents (I still love you, Mom and Dad!) but it’s something you should start to think about if you haven’t already. If you’re a parent, it’s important that your child knows about the world around them, from people to animals to plants to the soil beneath our feet. Here are five eco-friendly lessons you can teach your child that are actually a fun way to bond.
1. What’s in the Trash?
Trash doesn’t exactly bring a beautiful image to mind. It can be slimy, smelly and just plain gross. However, it’s imperative that we don’t simply throw things away without first thinking about what we’re throwing away, why we’re throwing it away, and if there is an eco-friendly alternative. I’m not asking you to dig through your trash with your child (though that would technically still be educational). There are other ways for them to be aware of what goes into the bin without actually getting the contents of said bin all over them.
One way to do this is to do a week-long challenge of writing down everything that goes into the trash, from cotton balls to plastic sandwich bags. How the list is organized is up to you. You can color coordinate different categories, or include fun stickers. You can even suggest that they draw what goes into the trash instead of keeping up with a list if you don’t think they’ll have the patience to prolong the challenge. Take out some color construction paper and crayons and ask them how they’re drawing makes them feel, if there is one object in particular that stands out to them the most, etc. You might be surprised by what they tell you.
If your kids aren’t really into drawing, they can always cut out images from a magazine and make a collage! We usually keep the trash out of sight and out of mind, but a visual representation like this can encourage a healthy and educational dialogue.