Today, we face many environmental issues including air pollution, water contamination and large-scale global warming. Fortunately, we can all do our parts by making the planet a much safer place—children included! Nurture your child’s curiosity about their environment and teach them how to live greener. Here are a few tips on how to raise your kids to be more eco-conscious.

#1 Start a Garden

One great way to get started on teaching your child how to appreciate their planet is to start a garden at home. (If you don’t have a yard or outdoor space, you can start with herbs or greens in indoor pots). With a garden, children can get involved in the ecosystem around them by directly engaging with it! Children can grow delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs, or beautiful flowers, which provides an excellent opportunity for you to explain how vegetation grows naturally and why a clean planet is so important for sustaining life.

#2 Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle at Home

Reduce waste at home, reuse items and give them new life, and make recycling a habit. One great way to reduce waste is to teach children how to preserve water at home. Water is a precious commodity that is often taken for granted in our modern world. However, eco-friendly households can do their part by having children turn off faucets while they brush their teeth or by taking speed showers to help reduce many gallons of water that is wasted every year in today’s households. Another great practice is to reuse plastic shopping bags or forgo them altogether by using reusable canvas bags when you visit the supermarket!

#3 Get Outdoors

Getting outdoors is another great way for children to connect with their planet. By being outside and in nature, children can gain a greater appreciation for Mother Nature, wildlife and natural habitats. Teach children valuable lessons on how to take care of the environment such as refraining from littering or refraining from disturbing habitats as much as possible. Fun activities such as walking trails or hiking through the woods are great ways to point out how nature is always around us.

#4 Introduce Eco-Conscious Books, Cartoons & Websites

Another helpful way to introduce children to eco-friendly living is to read books with them that explain the importance of protecting the environment. Classic books such as The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole are great books for small children to enjoy while improving their daily reading habits. FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a great movie that can help children understand why it is so important to take care of their planet. Likewise, tweens and teens can visit websites like PBS Kids to learn more on this topic and can even find fun online games that help them learn even more on this topic. Or the entire family can take a blast to the past by watching episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy whose messages of science and protecting the planet still resonate today.

#5 Lead by Example

Lastly, lead by example. The home is the first place where children learn the principles and ideals that they will carry with them into adulthood. When you as a parent or caregiver are eco-conscious and take protecting the environment seriously, your children will follow suit. Responsible parents who want to make a difference in the world around them can instill these same values in their little ones—giving children an opportunity to also care for the planet just as much as you do.

By having a desire to teach your children to be more engaged with the environment around them, you have taken the first step towards making the planet a much better place. It all starts at home and parents can help children learn new ways to save the planet by introducing them to fun, eco-conscious activities. Children are the future of our planet and even if they take small steps towards eco-friendly, green living, their efforts can make all the difference in preserving the world around them.

Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and the mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyKWilliams1.

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