Kids Going Green!

Teach your children about living responsibly

With a strong emphasis on ‘going green’ by ensuring that we recycle, upcycle and minimise the amount of waste we create, starting to introduce these concepts to your children early on can have a massive impact on their awareness as they get older.

Teaching your children about their environment and how they can contribute to its upkeep, will help them to develop their own sense of responsibility when it comes to protecting their future surroundings.

The concept of going green is not simply limited to recycling cereal boxes and tin cans. These days, our homes are becoming more energy efficient, there is a strong focus on the promotion of public transport in place of motor vehicle travel. Cities, suburbs, towns and villages have their own recycling programmes. Government initiatives are in full swing up and down the country to promote recycling and green practices in a bid to save our planet and improve the environment we live in.

When it comes to passing this message on to our children, this is easily done at home and is often promoted in schools who emphasise the importance of being environmentally savvy and respecting our planet. If going green is something you would like your child to be more involved in, why not challenge him or her to act as a ‘green ambassador' for their school? Consider how to help your child to make a valuable contribution to the local community by being a champion for a very worthwhile cause.

Waste not, want not

It is no secret that we are living in a world of ever increasing demand for new products and consumables. The fast-paced, have-it-now culture drives us to keep up with the latest trends and must-have items with little regard for the long term impact on the environment. Landfill sites are creeping into suburbia at an alarming rate yet, as a society, we look the other way.

So how can we help our children to understand the value of less is more when considering the impact of waste and pollution? Start at home and then consider the other suggestions below to spark your child’s passion for responsible living in the years ahead.

You can start by teaching your child about how to make choices that have a positive impact now and in the future. To put things into perspective, on average, each person in the United Kingdom will throw away their body weight in waster roughly every seven weeks. That is approximately a tonne of waste per family each year.

The choices that affect the amount of pollution and rubbish that is produced in the world each year can significantly improve the outcomes for the environment in the long term. If every family started to make even simple changes such as turning off the tap when brushing their teeth, the amount of water and energy saved would be significant.

So, what else can you teach your children about the choices you make as a family?

Below are 10 top tips for going green as a family and helping to preserve the environment for your child’s future and the future of their own children:

1. Recycle all books, toys, bottles, cans, cardboard, paper, plastic etc…

2. Take your children along to the local waste and recycling centre to see the various means of recycling and research how the waste is handled afterwards.

3. Reduce the volume of stuff you use.

4. Reuse stuff when you can rather than throwing it away.

5. Turn off the lights in a room when not in use.

6. Ensure that electrical appliances are turned off at the source rather than being left on stand-by mode.

7. A shorter warm shower will use less water than the average bath.

8. Turn off the central heating in rooms that are not used frequently during the colder months.

9. Where possible, walk or ride to your destination rather than using a car or public transport.

10. Take time to enjoy your natural surroundings, take walks in the woods, plant sunflower seeds and grow your own vegetables so that your children can experience their environment at its best. Reduce It!

Challenge your children to come up with their own ideas to use less and consider their environment each day.

Advocate and educate

The first step is to generate as much interest in the cause as possible. Getting other children involved with the support and permission of the school will ensure that your child’s plans are successful in the long term. It is far more difficult to make a significant change without the support of peers and teachers.

Help your child to identify someone within the school who can help them with their proposal. Having their guidance and support will go a long way to ensuring that your child has a positive experience in helping others to become aware of the environment and how to ensure that everyone takes a responsible approach to ‘going green’.

With OFSTED inspections and governments highlighting the impact of business on the environment, schools are well placed to lead the way with innovative projects that address key environmental issues. Ask your child whether they know of any staff at the school who may be interested in helping them to set up a mini environmental project. The Parent Teacher Association may also wish to be involved as there could be potential fundraising possibilities for the school if local business were to sponsor pupils or the school for reaching targets linked to the project.

If your child is keen on showcasing their idea to the school in order to gain support, why not support him or her in developing a presentation or visual display that will catch the attention of teaching staff and pupils alike.

This could be a fantastic science project, linked to the science and ethics of global warming and other key environmental One way of doing this is to produce your own multimedia presentation (like Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"), sharing your knowledge of the science and ethics of global warming and other environmental concerns. This could be a great opportunity to promote the schools commitment to being an eco-friendly education provider.

Once the support is in place, it is important that your child keeps pace with the project and is able to constantly promote fresh environmental concerns to keep interest alive. As a way of keeping fellow pupils involved, your child may be able to get the school to promote a poster competition or similar contest.

Again, this may be approached from a community awareness or fundraising perspective, something that allows your child to succeed while also raising funds and awareness of the schools commitment to the environment.

The school may then also want to report on their own efforts to monitor the school’s impact on the environment by providing information on changes that have been implemented as a result of the project. This can then be fed back to the students, parents and school governors and wider community.

It’s in their nature…

Ultimately, you are teaching your children to respect nature and the environment that they live in. As awareness grows and our children learn more about how to help the environment through effective recycling schemes and taking a responsible approach to waste and energy use, they will grow into the culture or recycling, upcycling and preserving rather than wasting.

As a family, taking regular trips to the great outdoors will help to inspire your children. Explore your local woodland, play at the local park or tackle a hiking trail or a scavenger hunt.

Teach your children about the three R’s in going green. They should Reduce, Reuse and of course, recycle as much as possible. Children love learning and the three R’s will give them lots of different ways to explore the concept of being green. You may want to set challenges each week, or do activities on the weekend that link in with the mantra of the three R’s.

Reduce

Help children to understand the importance of not producing unnecessary waste. A trip to the local waste and recycling centre will give them a visual idea of the magnitude of waste that we are facing the United Kingdom.

Reuse

Show your children the value of reusing household items. Make it fun and engaging! If your child is having a birthday party, you could consider making your own decorations out of items you’ve reclaimed from around the home and beyond. Get creative, give the party an eco-theme, the possibilities are endless.

Recycle

Try to set a good example for your children, in your own home. Set up an easy to follow recycling plan. Perhaps have different boxes for different items. Place a picture onto each box so that younger children can identify the right box for placing their items into. Your children can then see which items are used most frequently and it may then give you some ideas on how you can reduce your use of that particular product or show your children what that recycled item is often turned into through a recycling process.

Anything that gets your children out in the fresh air, makes them aware of their surroundings and educates them on the importance of preserving their environment for the future, is an amazing way to spark their interest and get their little minds thinking. Challenge them to find problems in their local environment and discuss what solutions they feel would address the issues. Remind your children daily about the importance of recycling, being energy conscious and only using items when it is necessary. Waste not, want not – a concept that is being lost in the society we live in today.

Schools do an amazing job at educating children about our world and as parents, we can support this by promoting the same values at home. Children are very often the instigators of recycling and energy saving activities at home. You can help them to continue on their journey by supporting them to champion the cause and helping them to remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.

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