How easy is it to get children to go green? As a mother of 3, I know that setting a good example is often the way to encourage children to start to do the right thing. I also know, that there are lots of hurdles along the way, peer pressure being a big one!
Start small and keep it fun
My 8-year-old is responsible for the recycling. It might sound dull, but he started sorting and popping it into the bin with me when he was small and we made it into a sorting and counting game. He’s now 8 and far better at recycling than his father!
Grow your own!
My 5-year-old is eagerly waiting for his strawberry plants grown from seeds to provide their first fruits. You don’t need to have a garden to grow your own, your can grow some things just on your window sill. The special thing about growing your own, is children learn that food isn’t grown looking “perfect” and doesn’t grow in plastic!
I always ask the children if they like the trees, the animals and nature. It’s a good way to start explaining why you’re saying no to a takeaway, or a plastic bag of sweets. That’s not to say we never have those things..we do..but we minimise them and avoid the worst offenders.
Let them choose.
Sometimes, I think that children need to make less than green choices. I had a dilemma on whether to buy LEGO a while ago, I mean..it’s plastic?! But.. they’ll play with it loads and it lasts..forever.. so the general consensus was it is one of the best gifts due to longevity. I think it’s everything in moderation. If I force them to be entirely green, will they learn or just resent being green?
Our rule, if you have something less than green, you need to balance it out. Want a plastic toy? Donate something nice to charity, and choose the plastic toy second-hand. (The exception to that is LEGO which is on every Birthday list!). We have a rule where we always try to avoid cheap plastic toys– children’s magazines I’m looking at you!
Second Hand, not as good.
I’ve always been keen to explain to the children that once you buy something from a shop, take it home and use it once, its second hand. If we bought a toy new, would it be no good after one use? No. I’ve also discovered the children are learning to be more careful with their own toys, so they are able to donate better toys so other children benefit too.
We are by no means as green as we could be, but we are on a journey as a family. Little changes which felt tough, are no longer a challenge.