In a society built around mass consumerism, it’s more important than ever to raise children who are environmentally conscious. We should strive to teach our kids to be mindful of global citizens who learn everything from how to avoid plastics to how to compost food waste.  Whether you’re an expert recycler who reuses anything and everything that can be reused and ditched single-use plastic items a long time ago, or you’re a busy parent trying to live as environmentally conscious as you can, getting your family on a greener path is less complicated than you’d think. However, it will require the cooperation of everyone in your household. So how can you get your children excited about sustainability and things like reducing, reusing, and recycling?

If you’re a parent, you know that children live and learn by example, so setting the right example for them from a very young age is important as it will increase the likelihood that they carry on with their eco-conscious lifestyle forward into their adult life. By showing your kids that you care about and respect the environment, your kids more than likely will be happy doing the same. Here are 5 eco-friendly practices you can begin today to inspire your young ones to go green:

1. Teach them the importance of protecting our planet

Kids, particularly younger kids, need to understand why it’s critical to protect our planet and why some of the choices we make can be harmful. You can use books and movies to help you introduce this concept in a way that they can easily understand. For example, Pixar’s Wall-e that illustrates the effects of consumerism on humans and the environment. You can also get them to respect the outdoors by getting them involved in activities like gardening or visiting natural parks. Family outings that are focused on the great outdoors give you plenty of opportunities to point out and discuss the plants and animals you see and why it’s important to respect their habitats

2. Encourage kids to conserve energy

Remind your little ones to switch off lights when they leave a room, shut off computers, turn off the TV when no one is watching it, and avoid lingering in front of the refrigerator with the door open. If you have older kids, have them help you replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. LED light bulbs provide about the same light output as traditional incandescent bulbs, but last much longer and use a fraction of the energy.

3. Help them discover ways to limit waste 

If your kids are able to safely ride a bike or walk to school or to visit friends rather than catch a ride from parents, encourage it! Or if safety is a concern, walk/bike with them. As you bike, talk to your kids about how driving a car adds to air pollution in the world. Teach them why walking or biking is much better for the environment, but if they have to drive, they should carpool when possible. You should also teach your children the value of sharing and reusing their toys and clothes by arranging a child toy/clothes swap amongst their friends. This allows your kids to learn the value of sharing and not wasting toys or clothes. Similarly, if your kids have any toys, books, clothes, and other goods that they no longer use, have them gather those items and join you for the drop-off so you can teach them how one man’s trash can become another man’s treasure

4. Start recycling

To ease your kids into an eco-friendly lifestyle, teach them how to separate waste into recyclable and non-recyclable items. You can do this in a fun way by placing a recycling bin in each of your kid’s room to see who can recycle the most within a week. At the end of the competition, let the winner take a night off of chores or stay up an hour later than usual

5. Grow your own food

For an unforgettable hands-on learning opportunity, grow a garden as a family. Your children will see firsthand the magic of mother nature  and learn that food doesn’t originate in a grocery store, which will help them have a greater appreciation for what they put into their bodies

These tips are just some of the many ways you can get your family to be more environmentally conscious. Engaging your kids will get them to start thinking about how their individual efforts impact the planet and how even the little changes can make a difference. In today’s world, being eco-friendly is important, so teaching your kids early gives our world much better hope for the future. If you’re looking for other ways to help create a sustainable future, be sure to learn more about Kiwi Energy.