Sustainability for Kids: Inspiring Future Generations

A discussion on the necessity of sustainability for kids. It’s critically important to the future of life on our planet, so let’s explore the various aspects.

By Amanda Winstead

With each new generation, the interest in living sustainably and protecting the environment increases. Millennials and Generation Z have shown the most interest thus far, especially once they became “old enough” to understand the issues we are facing, such as climate change and deforestation. However, to continue this momentum and make even more of an impact, it’s important to start teaching kids the importance of sustainability from an early age.

Kids are never too young to learn about the earth and how to take care of it—they often absorb and understand more than we think. Today’s young children will become tomorrow’s leaders, so we need to start instilling eco-friendly values in them at an early age to help them better prepare to create a more sustainable future.

two girls watering a garden bed, exemplary of Sustainability for Kids
Sustainability for kids must involve horticultural education. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Ways to Teach and Inspire Kids to Live Sustainably

Children truly are like little sponges; they will mimic and absorb what others are doing around them, especially their parents or guardians, who they spend the most time with, and are most comfortable within their own home. This is why it’s important to not only rely on educators to teach our kids about environmentalism but for parents and guardians to make a daily habit out of teaching their children the importance of sustainability.

Below are some of the ways we can inspire kids and help them learn about the environment and sustainability from an early age:

Get Them Outside

Teaching kids about the earth and why it’s so precious is the first step in helping them learn to appreciate it and feel inspired to care for it. And, of course, one of the best ways to do this is to get them outside as much as possible. Take them to local parks and wildlife reservations or on hikes and camping trips where they can feel more immersed in the experience. Just remember to make it fun and keep them safe—nothing can ruin a child’s interest in the great outdoors more than a bad or traumatizing experience.

Gardening is another great way to teach kids about the earth. Not only does it help them learn about how to take care of things, but it also teaches them how to live sustainably off the land that nature has provided them. Plus, it’s an engaging hands-on activity that will enrich their mind and allow them to have fun and get a little dirty.

Use Eco-Friendly Activities

For those rainy days or when you don’t have the time to get outside and explore, there are plenty of ways you can teach kids about sustainability indoors. Eco-friendly activities like “green” arts & crafts or imaginative play and sustainable games are great for keeping kids entertained while also teaching them about the environment.

When doing arts & crafts, use sustainably sourced materials and teach your kids about them and how to recycle materials of their own. Making art with food, for example, or creating a scrap paper/material bin can show them not to simply throw things away but to find other uses for them.

Set An Example At Home

Not everything you do has to be about specifically getting your kids involved to teach them about sustainability. Sometimes, the efforts you make in your daily life when you don’t think your kids are looking—but they are—can inspire them. Making eco-friendly changes in your home, for example, is an excellent way to show your kids that you are also making an effort to live sustainably. You can upgrade to products that use less energy, set up a recycling system, swap your light bulbs for LEDs, install solar panels, and more.

Talk to Them About Their Future

Another good way to help kids understand their environmental impact is to teach them how what they do now can change the future. This can include talking to them about what they want to be when they grow up. Kids love to mimic adults, as they aspire to be them one day. This means they love to imagine what kind of career they will have when they get older. While it’s not great to force kids to be something they’re not, you can encourage them by teaching them about careers in sustainability and how that can positively impact the future of our planet.

The Benefits of Teaching Kids Sustainability

Teaching kids about sustainability doesn’t just benefit the environment, but it can enrich their minds and help them learn better, healthier habits which can directly benefit them as they get older. Showing kids how to care for the earth helps them learn compassion, thoughtfulness, and consideration, which can be applied to many things and people in their lives.

Sustainable practices can also help kids gain a sense of independence and teach them how to be more self-autonomous. For example, taking care of a garden, sorting recyclables, and other eco-friendly activities shows them how to take care of things themselves from an early age, which can help them learn the importance of responsibility and self-management.

Final Thoughts on Sustainability for Kids

Children are naturally inclined to want to learn about things—they are inherently curious. As adults, we can take advantage of that positively and healthily by teaching them about the world around them and how everything we do has an impact on the earth and others. They will one day be the ones making the decisions after all, so it’s important to instill healthy habits and consideration for the environment at an early age to enable them to have a greater impact in the future.

About the Author

Amanda Winstead is a writer focusing on many topics including technology and digital marketing. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.