When it comes to kids, leading by example is the best way to teach them. We have all seen the studies about how many kids grow up to repeat their parents’ lives, for both good and bad, and it’s up to parents to set a good example of planetary stewardship for their kids. If they see that you don’t care much for the earth you depend on for life, how do you think they will behave when faced with choices in the future? Will they remember seeing you recycle your plastics and your use of nontoxic cleaners, or will they remember watching you pour motor oil in the yard and putting aluminum cans in the bags going to the landfill? They start to learn by your example, and it is a duty you must take seriously.
It’s up to you, as a parent, to teach them that:
- The planet is for everyone and no one should take more than their fair share.
- Future generations will need to live here, so we should clean up after ourselves.
- Everything we put down the drain, in the toilet, or in the landfill ends up in our drinking water eventually. Explain the process of wastewater and aquifers and why we don’t put toxic ingredients or pharmaceuticals down the drain.
- Healthy, natural, organic foods are better for them, the farmers, and for the planet than those grown using toxic fertilizers and pesticides.
- The choices we make and our day to day behavior can negatively affect people around the world, so choose wisely.
- Electricity doesn’t just show up in the house in an endless supply – explain where it comes from and why we need to reduce how much we use.
- That there are millions of people who go hungry every day and who live in terribly unsanitary conditions, and who need our voice to speak up for them whenever we can.
photo credit: mikebaird
That list could go on and on and on…but you get the gist of it. It is up to all parents, and all adults, to teach environmental stewardship to our kids. Every generation from here on out will have an increasingly more aware and vested stake in what happens to our planet, so we need to do right by them. I don’t even have kids – but if I did, you could bet on the fact that I would be teaching them all this information that I know and live every day. Even when I watch friends’ kids, we talk about the environment…because their parents already started teaching them about it! They know about the polar bears and the melting sea ice – at 4 years old. And because they already know a little, they turn off the lights behind them and they don’t leave the water running when they brush their teeth. Every little bit helps – but it’s up to us to help them get there.