Raising Future Planet Caretakers
Introducing your little one to sustainability
Sustainability is an exciting opportunity to teach your children respect for other people and respect for the planet, which will help form a well-rounded view of the world as they grow and learn. Some of the best ways a child can learn is by doing, or by watching people around them (parents and caretakers!) and mimicking what they see. Here are a few ways you could set your child up for sustainability success.
Eating more plant-based foods isn’t just a healthy lifestyle decision for you and your little one, but for our planet too. Choosing plant-based foods can help our planet through reduced land and water consumption and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. For example, substituting chickpeas for beef can help reduce greenhouse emissions, water consumption, and your little one will still get plenty of protein. Beef requires approximately 1,800 gallons of water per pound of meat. Chickpeas, on the other hand, require approximately 500 gallons of water to produce the same pound of consumable food.
Not ready to jump into being a meatless household? Not a problem! You can take baby steps (pun intended…), and try something like “Meatless Mondays”, or keeping animal products restricted solely to dinners. This is the type of situation where quite literally, every little bit helps.
Introducing the food cycle, from garden to table, and back to the earth, will help give your children a full view of the origin of their food and where it ends up. While it’s an exciting opportunity to teach your child where their food comes from, it also supports the likelihood your child will try new foods and decrease food waste.
A great way to start this is to invite your child to help plant a veggie garden and watch them be delighted as they see the sprouts grow. Your child can then help you in preparing the harvested veggies, taste them along the way, and safely chop and cook them into your family meals. The cycle can end by composting your food scraps. A compost pile can be made in the backyard, or you could bring it to a local co-op or community garden. We keep ours in a compostable bag in the freezer (no bad smells!), and then drop it off at a community garden compost bin down the street.
No room for a garden? You can always visit a local farm to pick apples, have your little one prepare some apple dishes in the kitchen, and have them bring the leftover apple cores to the compost to help feed the ground to grow new apples.
A direct way to reduce your environmental impact is to reduce your consumption. A child-focused way this can be done is by purchasing fewer and better toys for your children’s play space. Instead of visiting a toy store to purchase new toys, visit a garage sale, a secondhand marketplace, or a neighbor to bring home a previously loved toy. If you do choose to buy new, consider selecting products that are made of natural materials and are biodegradable. When your child has grown out of a toy, encourage them to pass it along through donation or re-home through your local Buy Nothing Facebook group. (https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/#USA)
You can sleep soundly knowing that when it is eventually discarded, it will biodegrade back into the planet.
Getting out to enjoy and explore nature is an easy and fun way to model a sustainable life. No matter where you live, there’s somewhere to find a slice of nature. Along the way, you can identify new flowers, birds and animals that make your neighborhood their home. You can explore the ecosystem of your local pond, the bees that pollinate the flowers, or the moss that grows on trees.
For some nature walk bonus points, you can pick up garbage you find along the way and properly dispose of it, or collect some leaves and flowers for crafts.
Remember to only leave your footprints behind when you go on your nature walk!
Find out more ways to introduce sustainability in your every day life over on my Instagram! ♻️