Get your kids excited about green living

How do you get your children to participate in keeping a green home and caring about the Earth? Whether your kids are first-graders or teens, there are age-appropriate ways to talk to them about green living and sustainability. These tips will help you get your kids enthusiastic about pitching in.

Reuse and recycling

  • Even fairly young children can learn to sort items to be recycled from those to be thrown away. Place your bin for recyclables in the kitchen and have kids deposit cardboard, metal, glass and plastic materials into the bin themselves as you use them up. Ask your child if a particular item can go in, and let them be the expert.
  • When you're at the store, teach your kids about "precycling" by making wise choices in purchasing products. Lovetoknow shares how you can talk with your children about buying in bulk to save money and resources, as well as choosing items with recycled or no packaging to reduce waste.
  • Children quickly outgrow clothes. If siblings can't use the items, show your child how to select used clothes and toys in good condition and pass them along to the Salvation Army or another outlet so that someone else can enjoy them. In addition, you and your child can peruse these stores yourselves rather than buying new every time.

Energy conservation

  • Kids love being in charge of an important duty! The Once Upon a Child blog suggests electing a child "Captain Energy."  Let your child keep track of the family's electric and water use. You could even encourage them to make an official badge for their job, and let them be the enforcer of turning off light switches when family members leave a room.
  • Young people may not think about how much water it wastes when they take long showers or leave the tap running, so throw some EPA stats their way to make the idea more concrete. It's an easy fix to turn off the tap while brushing teeth or set a timer for a five-minute shower. Make it more interesting by charting daily progress with stickers that lead to a reward after a month of saving water.

Valuing the great outdoors

  • Help your kids enjoy being in nature so that they evolve a desire to protect the Earth. Visit forests and seashores, bicycle through urban parks and point out wildlife in your own backyard. Depending on the age of your children, there are different approaches you can take to talking about subjects such as climate change—check out this article from Scholastic for tips.
  • Gardening gives children an absorbing, hands-on activity and a sense of ownership. Start your own veggie and herb garden in the backyard or set up a community garden in your neighborhood, let your kids help plan the layout and assign them times to work in it. 
  • Worms! Dirt! Composting is an activity that seems made for kids. Gardening Know How offers simple directions for ways to engage your children in managing their own composting containers.

How to home compost without the hassle