Being a parent likely makes you aware - if not a little worried - about the world your children will inherit. But teaching your kids to be eco-conscious isn’t all about the serious stuff: it comes down to cultivating a fascination with nature from an early age so that your kids go on to be aware of how their actions affect it. Being eco-conscious is a life skill you can develop together, as you bond over the natural world and encourage them to see things through an ecological lens. So, grab your magnifying glass, compass, and map - it’s time to:
1. Get outdoors
The key ingredient to raising eco-conscious kids is unsurprisingly, the environment itself. Spend time in it with them to increase their awareness of ecosystems, plants and animals. Rockpooling, fishing, walks by the lake, or on the heath, are a few examples of where to start.
2. Take them to a wildlife watch group
Wildlife watch groups, as they’re known in the UK, are volunteer-run groups that work in partnership with local nature reserves and trusts. They make “getting outdoors” even more educational and fun for kids, helping them become more eco-conscious. Activities often include making bird boxes, setting insect-friendly traps, and planting trees - although sometimes they can be as simple as sitting quietly and absorbing nature together. Being eco-conscious involves becoming conscious of the world around us.
3. Give them binoculars as a present!
It’s important for your kids to have the right tools to be able to see the intricacies and biodiversity of their surroundings. Binoculars and bird-spotting guides are another simple way of opening up new worlds and fortifying eco-conscious values.
4. Buy them sustainable clothing
We think it’s important to educate kids about where their clothing comes from and the impact it has on the planet. Getting them into eco-conscious clothing from a young age will ensure they get into the habit of choosing better clothing that lasts. It’s also the case that organic and botanic fibres are free from pesticides and fertilisers, and should therefore be better for your children’s skin than fast fashion materials. Our kids' eco-conscious clothing is specifically made for getting outdoors! It’s durable, high-quality, and slightly oversized to allow for growth spurts.
5. Teach them how to recycle
Recycling can be a good opportunity to talk about the waste we all produce and how it pollutes the planet. Tying this eco-conscious knowledge to what they know and see around them might be a good idea - such as the time they saw plastic floating in the ocean, or litter in the street. The latter often gets sucked into storm drains where it flows straight to the ocean…
6. Watch nature documentaries together
Second only to being out in the wild itself, nature documentaries are a great entry point for developing a kid’s eco-consciousness. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and Green Planet series would be the obvious place to start, but there are plenty of environmental TV shows made for a younger audience. As “screen-time” is a touchy topic in modern parenting, guiding your kids towards eco-conscious viewing will certainly make it more beneficial to them.
Elsewhere, nature livecams from explore.org can create virtual bonds with animals in the wild.
7. Grow your own vegetables!
Growing your own vegetables can be a fun, colourful, and intensely rewarding family activity. Your kids are likely to take pride in the crops they have nurtured from seed to supper, and will pick up a key skill to serve them later in life. Haven’t got the garden for it? Allotments will expose you to an entire root system of eco-conscious people who look out for each other and help to protect the planet! Community is key to developing eco-consciousness. Growing your own is also a chance to teach your kids about food miles and organic principles. It’ll be fun to compare your first harvest with the (obviously less delicious!) supermarket-bought goods.
8. Go cycling together
Transport can be the largest part of an individual’s carbon footprint and cycling is a great way to cut it down. Cycling rather than taking the car will also expose them to more natural scenery and environments. A little extra legwork goes a long way…
9. Go for a beach clean
According to the Marine Conservation Society, “beach cleaning empowers children to do their bit for nature.” The organisation offers resources for families based in the UK, but we’re sure there are other options wherever you live! If not, it may be time to set up a beach clean yourself - a great way of meeting new people and deepening your knowledge of your coastline.
10. Read them eco-conscious books
Nature should be on everyone’s reading list. You can nurture eco-conscious values by reading your kids stories with a powerful ecological narrative, or giving them an encyclopaedia of the natural world. Channel and challenge your kids’ inquisitiveness with the right book. Our favourites? We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and Percy The Park Keeper!