The kids of today are growing up in a much different world than their ancestors. Climate change is altering the landscape, and we all need to be more mindful about conserving energy and reducing the amount of waste we produce. It’s not that hard, but it takes some commitment to get started. Getting involved in sustainability activities for kids can make it a whole lot easier.
Teaching sustainability in early childhood shows kids the things they can do to help shape their future and reduce the environmental effects of climate change. Some sustainability activities can also be incredibly fun and rewarding, and they’re a great way of changing the way we look at our changing planet.
Sustainability Activities for Kids
Many of us have already made a switch to more sustainable lifestyles, and that’s a great thing. Having some of us committed to protecting the environment is better than none of us, but if we want our numbers to grow, it’s important that we get the kids involved in sustainability from a young age. Let’s look at some sustainability activities for kids that show them how easy it can be to make a measurable difference in the world.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Whenever we set out to better ourselves, it’s a good idea to establish a baseline for where we are at right now. When we begin a workout regimen, we weigh ourselves and use that changing number as an indicator to track our progress. When we begin taking part in eco-friendly activities for kids focused on sustainability, we establish that baseline by calculating our carbon footprint.
It can be fun for kids to see where their family’s carbon footprint is now, but when we recalculate down the line, seeing the effect of the changes we’ve made delivers great feelings of satisfaction and pride.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
One of the most important sustainability activities for kids an eco-friendly family can do to help the environment is to cut down on the amount of trash they contribute to landfills. For the past half decade plus, that has been illustrated by the three R’s, which are reduce, reuse, and recycle.
The acts of reducing our consumption, reusing the things we do buy, and recycling products at the end of their life cycles can feel like chores to kids. Turning them into environmental sustainability games or challenges can add some excitement for kids who are just getting into the world of sustainability.
Not all things can be recycled and made into new products. Those things are generally thrown in the trash. The problem with throwing foodstuffs into the garbage is that when it rots, it creates methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas that’s even more potent than carbon dioxide.
Composting your food scraps is a great way to keep rotting foods out of landfills, and it provides nutrient rich fertilizer for your garden or landscape. You can begin composting easily. A small composting bin can be purchased in stores or online for under a hundred dollars. Teach your kids to turn garbage into garden gold, and they’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of beautiful produce.
Grow a Garden
One of the greatest sustainability activities for kids on their summer break from school is growing a garden. It teaches kids about where their food comes from, but it also teaches them to care for living things and all the energy and resources that go into producing the food they eat.
If you compost, you’ll have a great way to show the kids how the breakdown of older organic materials contributes to the next round of food that ends up on their tables. Composting and gardening are two sustainability ideas for kids that go hand in hand.
Plant a Tree
If you don’t have the time or space to grow a vegetable garden, try simply planting a tree. Planting a tree with young kids allows them to see their little sapling grow into a big tree that provides shade and oxygen. It also teaches them patience. Just because something will take a long time to grow into its full potential, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.
Turn Unwanted and Found Objects into Art Materials
Many artists have piles of random objects around their homes and studios. Why is that? Found and discarded objects make great eco-friendly children’s art supplies for your next project. Have them talk about what makes each item cool or unique and what they might want to do with it. Their creativity will run wild! It can be one of the most fun sustainability activities for kids who are into arts and crafts.
Personalize the Things that Help Us Kick Single Use Plastics
Single use plastics like water bottles, shopping bags and straws are incredibly bad for the environment. We produce billions of these items each year, and a good chunk of that volume ends up in landfills, oceans and beaches. By making the switch to reusable totes, water bottles and reusable straws, we can make a big difference in the amount of microplastics that make their way into our soil and bodies of water.
Personalizing tote bags and bottles are fun sustainability activities for kids and will get kids using reusable items that feel personal to them. They’ll also look super cool using their handmade, sustainable materials wherever they go.
Organize a Clothing or Book Swap with Friends
We don’t always need to go to the store to pick up new books or clothes. Organizing a swap with friends is a great excuse to get together with the people we love and allows us to give previously loved items another life. Plus, the fact that we all like to get some new stuff makes it a favorite among sustainable activities for kids.
If you want to go big with your swap, consider reaching out to your schools about organizing a school wide swap. Swaps are great sustainability projects for schools, and they can provide much needed supplies for families who need a little help.
Create a Challenge around Reducing Your Electricity Usage
We burn fossil fuels for lots of reasons, and one of the biggest is to produce the electricity that powers our modern lives. We burn more than we have to because most of us inadvertently waste a lot of electricity. Creating a challenge to curb your energy usage is a fun way to protect the environment and cut your energy bills at the same time.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Remember to turn off lights when we aren’t using them.
- Replace older bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs.
- Replace outdoor lights with solar powered lights.
- Plug appliances into surge protectors. Many of them use phantom power even when turned off, so plugging things like your TVs and video game systems into a surge protector makes it easy to switch off power to those devices when we aren’t using them.
Read Books on Sustainability
When it comes time to pick up your next batch of books for the week, why not make it a stack of eco-friendly children’s books? There are fantastic books out there that keep kids engaged while also teaching them about sustainability. Many also have some seriously cool sustainability activities for kids.
Learn about People Doing Great Things in Sustainability
There are a lot of people out there doing amazing things to create a more sustainable world. Learning about them gives us role models and ideas for sustainability activities for kids that we can incorporate into our own lives.
Learn about the Sustainable Living Project, a one acre farm that utilizes sustainable practices and help from volunteers to provide fresh food for veterans and their families.
Learn about the amazing teen environmentalists tackling environmental issues through innovative STEM projects.
Learn about all the people doing things that positively impact the planet because it’s important work.
Get Your Local Schools Involved
Teaching sustainability in schools goes a long way toward reinforcing the eco-conscious lifestyles we are trying to cultivate for our little ones. They can design sustainability lesson plans that get all the kids working toward the same goal, meaning sustainability is something they’ll be talking about with their friends.
Make Sustainability Fun
The most important thing when it comes to raising eco-conscious kids is that the sustainability activities for kids that you choose are things that they will actually do. Put together your own list of environmental activities, and see which ones the kids respond to. Focus on the ones they enjoy most at the beginning, and work on the others later. Having fun with sustainability and turning good practices into good habits is the key to turning your kids into eco-friendly adults.