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Earth-Friendly Kids: How to Teach Sustainability at Home

Priscilla Greene |

Whether you are an advocate of eco-friendliness and recycling, or you need some quick tips on how to get your family on the path of sustainability, we have got you covered: nurturing Earth-friendly kids is easy these days and any educational moment can become a fun family activity. We have talked about sustainability before, on numerous occasions, emphasizing recycling and reusing, the use of eco-friendly materials, and embracing small but significant lifestyle changes for the greater good. Today we will focus on attracting your Earth-friendly kids and teenagers to embark on the journey of saving the planet and making their lives better.

1. Teach the Children the Importance of Reusability

If your kids are very young, they may understand some sustainability rules and even follow them, but likely, they will not see the fun and the benefits of such actions. For this reason, we recommend you begin with a few reusability-based lifestyle changes and projects.

The kids will have almost immediate access to the result, seeing and feeling the impact, while having fun in the meanwhile. You can have Earth-friendly kids, and you can turn them into veritable ambassadors of environmentalism as long as you make things seem reasonable, fun, and easy for them. Think about adventures and challenges instead of chores. Nobody likes chores.

Here are some things you can initiate for kids’ engagement:

  • The use of reusable containers when they carry food/drinks to school, at camp, during family road-trips and so on. Explain reusability’s importance for the planet. Tell them why we should stop wasting energy, materials, and resources. Then, keep them interested by presenting them with reusable containers (water bottles they can refill), sustainable food containers, and reusable school lunch tote bags or lunch boxes.
  • Show, don’t tell. Besides it being one crucial literary technique, it is also one of the fastest educational methods you can use to raise Earth-friendly kids. Breathe new life into old items, engage the children in DIY reusability projects, and teach them to reuse resources creatively instead of throwing them away. One good example, working perfectly for little girls with a fertile imagination is a family project aiming to recycle reusable shopping bags. We will discuss in detail how to introduce reusable shopping bags to the family, but now, use the older totes you have around the house and turn them into works of art.
  • In the spirit of reusability as well, teaching your kids to repair and fix some of their things will nurture grown-up skills in the future and necessary life skills as well. Some repairs are difficult at young ages, but they can watch you fix some things and try themselves when they grow a bit older. For instance, you can teach reusability by engaging them in small backpack repairs. Whether your children use backpacks for school or leisure, a few fixes here and there indirectly educates sustainability.

Reusability can take many shapes and turn into different family projects with a bit of creativity. The critical part here is to teach children the importance of resource preservation.

2. Life in Plastic is Not Fantastic

Plastic use and waste are one of the world’s most significant problems – able to suffocate us if we do not take immediate action. A plastic-free family is a goal many eco-conscious parents aim to raise and, fortunately, convincing your Earth-friendly kids to give up plastic is easy. Here are some tips:

  • Use reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water (an industry generating millions of tons of plastic each year) and, if the water’s taste or safety is a problem, get a kitchen water filter.
  • Eliminate the use of plastic straws from your life. Kids love them, but the environment does not. Plastic straws are littering the planet to the detriment of fauna and flora. Kids can drink their favorite beverages without straws, and you should set the example.
  • Give up on plastic grocery bags. Plastic bags are the death of terrestrial and marine wildlife, littering the world, and suffocating all green things. While humanity will not be able to give up on plastic altogether, you, your kids, and the entire family can say no to plastic bags and start using canvas shopping bags more often. Use cotton shopping tote bags – get one for each family member and keep some in the trunk for good measure. Moreover, if your kids are still small but you want them to have their share of shopping fun whenever you go to the supermarket together, get them some mini-messenger canvas tote bags they can use to help you carry groceries at home.
  • Plastic toys are of concern in many families with small children. As we said, you cannot eliminate plastic from your life, but you can use it responsibly. One idea would be to buy only solid plastic toys, which resist to wear and tear and, when the kids grow up, pass them in the family for the younger children. Moreover, when children outgrow toys, do not throw them away. Fix them, clean them, and give them away to charity, hospitals, NGOs, and so on. You will always find a child in this world in need of a toy, and your bags and boxes may turn a kid’s life into a small miracle.
  • You can also limit the point of eliminating the use of plastic cups, plates, cutlery, and so on. While useful and practical, disposable plastic is a huge issue for the planet and Earth-friendly kids have to know from a young age what plastic abuse can generate.
  • Engage slowly and progressively in recycling actions. Separate plastic from other types of family trash and take the plastic waste to the dedicated recycling plant. Make it a fun family weekend by going to the park or in the great outdoors and collect plastic scraps and leftovers to take them to the recycling plant. Encourage kids to take part in recycling projects at school and be ready to give them a hand when they need your help with a sustainability project for school.

3. Teach Sustainability through Creative DIY Projects

The conservation of energy, water, and resources are critical elements for sustainability. We will discuss the small lifestyle changes we can all make to protect the environment, but young kids need examples first. They also need to see things grow and change with their own eyes, so their dedication to sustainability to become an ingrained attitude and behavior and not solely a nice theory.

  • Gardening and planting green life. If you own a house with a backyard, half of your problems are over. Teaching children how to grow their favorite vegetables, flowers, herbs, spices, and even fruit is one of the most crucial steps in educating sustainability in the fun, messy way. Besides learning about the cycle of life and the difference between homegrown (even organic) fresh vegetables and store-bought ones, they will also learn to understand and respect nature, its resources, and all the people trying to protect it. Gardening and building fairy gardens or a new house for the family dog are precisely what Earth-friendly kids need: messy, challenging, amusing, outdoorsy, and extremely satisfactory when they see what they have made.
  • Creative and artistic DIY projects are what kids love the most. You can engage them in a fun challenge this summer: styling up the family’s canvas beach bags. Let them paint, sew, glue, tear apart even, remodel, and design – each such activity teaches them a necessary life skill and shows them that sustainability is anything but boring.
  • You can also try to build some furniture pieces out of pallets, reuse and upcycle old towels or pillowcases, waterproof canvas shopping bags or make together a rain cover for all the children’ suede school backpacks, and more.

DIY projects, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities are some of the most natural and most entertaining educational methods you can use to teach children not only the value of sustainability but new skills as well.

4. Turn Conservation of Resources, and Small Lifestyle Changes into Ongoing Fun Family Activities

Resource conservation and waste reduction are critical to preserving the health of our environment. Saving water and energy stand out as the two most crucial sustainability strategies to date – and some of the easiest ones to implement in the home as well.

  • Turn off the lights in the house and all the appliances when you do not use the room or the devices (TV, computer, etc.);
  • Change the light bulbs with eco-friendly ones (LED technology saves energy, money on the bill, and generate less heat in the house);
  • Teach the children to let the sunshine in their rooms instead of using electricity during the day;
  • Fossil fuel waste is probably one of the world’s most significant Therefore, instead of hopping in the car for a five-minute drive, educate the kids (and yourself) about the health and environmental benefits of walking or using a bicycle. Not everything needs your car and kids will love the exercise – especially since most adventures and the best memories begin around the block, right around the corner, and a few minutes away from home;
  • Underfloor heating may seem expensive to install at first, but it will save you money in the end, contributing to sustainability and saving of resources indirectly. You have full control of how and when to use the system; moreover, you can fine-tune it to provide you with the exact quantity of heat you need, without wasting unnecessary energy.
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth or when you foam the dishes before rinsing them;
  • Eat everything on the plate (smaller portions for kids to be able to eat in one sitting are preferable) and stop throwing food away;
  • Use only the needed materials for a school project and save the leftovers for plans;
  • Use jute gift bags or book bags to offer gifts instead of wasting money and resources on plastic wrapping sheets or paper wrapping; a jute tote bag as gift wrapper can travel along from person to person, as people can easily reuse them to make gifts in their turn;
  • Older kids and teenagers can replace their plastic-based backpacks with stylish leatherette bags for school or casual outings;
  • Shop for groceries responsibly. In a country wasting jaw-dropping quantities of food that could easily feed the other half of the planet, your kids need to learn about responsible food shopping, consumption, and disposing. Proper health and nutrition are also essential parts of sustainability, and you can help the little ones buy only the healthy food and provisions they need;
  • Replace home chemicals and cleaning products with natural and safe alternatives. Kids love to learn new things and experiment with new projects and ideas, so introduce them to the wonders of baking soda uses around the house, rust-removal with vinegar, easy cleaning projects with toothpaste, stain removal with homemade solutions, and so on.

5. Allow Kids to Fall in Love with Nature

We should have started with this point, probably, but there is never too late to love nature and show it the respect it deserves. Therefore, instead of allowing kids to get lost in front of a TV or a computer, tablet, smartphone and everything else they use these days, encourage them to embrace the big outdoors.

  • Encourage front lawn playing, gardening, outdoor projects with mom and dad, kids’ parties and adventures in the backyard;
  • Take them out in the park for a picnic or family fun;
  • Allow them to go camping or on camping, hiking, and adventure trips with the school;
  • Organize family vacations in the mountains or at the beach; camp, hike, trail, bike, and do whatever physical activity your kids can engage in while outside, breathing fresh air, and enjoying the view;
  • Take them to natural history museums and even zoos; teach them about the importance of animal life preservation and animal protection; give them the occasion to ask questions and also engage in their small wildlife conservation projects (by volunteering to a local animal shelter or by donating some of their pocket money to a nature-preservation project);
  • Take trash-collecting trips with them and clean a small portion of your local neighborhood or park; take them with you on tree-planting volunteer projects if you participate to them – and if you do not, now it is the time to join them!
  • Earth-friendly kids will become Earth advocates in later years and during adulthood, if you allow them to interact with nature, build bird feeders in the backyard, understand the importance of spiders in the garden, engaging in conservation projects, care for animals, everything green, and the ozone layer, among others.


Sustainability begins in the home, in the safe, nurturing, and encouraging environment created by adults for kids. Setting examples and inspiring responsibility and awareness in children are the sure-fire ways of raising Earth-friendly kids that will be this world’s future hope and salvation. We wanted to share several eco-friendly actions you can teach your kid. What other things do you do at home to build love and respect for nature in your children’s hearts? What environmentally advices do you share with your kids?