Do you feel like a lonely Eco Warrior in your household? Do you spend your days nagging the kids to turn the lights out and the appliances off, recycling and refilling where you can, but feel like you’re on a hamster wheel of plastic tat and excess ‘stuff’, especially at Christmas?
Well stop. It’s time to get off that frustrating hamster wheel and onto a new plan. One that involves the whole family.
Younger generations are definitely more aware and more concerned about the environment and climate change than previous generations. However, in real day to day life, they do often need a reminder. Greta Thunberg’s commendable message may suddenly have less impact when a child is faced with the next sparkly new plastic object, and who can blame them?
We have been conditioned to enjoy new things and keep on top of the latest trends. Our society has become focused on fast fashion and overconsumption. And temptation is all around us, you can barely buy a kids’ magazine without it being packaged with completely unnecessary plastic junk.
The key is to get the whole family involved. Educate them and then let them make the right decisions. Okay, perhaps with a touch of bribery along the way.
Educate, motivate, then celebrate!
Something that is so welcome is the huge range of climate change and environment focused books now available for kids. Some bookshops have whole displays and sections dedicated to this. Whether it’s books about Greta, pop up books on the environment, or a big focus on plastic, it’s well worth popping one of these under the tree this Christmas. We love Usborne’s The Climate Crisis for beginners and the fantastic practical tips in 100 Things to know about saving the planet.
Most schools have some kind of environmental education on the curriculum, and get pupils involved with plastic-free campaigns, junk modelling projects, and environment-based school trips. These offer a great opportunity for discussion and fun at home. Pop any interesting looking container in an arts and crafts box ready for a junk modelling project at the end of the month. Perhaps get the children to make a list of all the plastic they could reduce from their day to day lives. Or make a poster or piece of artwork about the environment.
If it’s less environmentally conscious family members you need to convince, be brave this year and buy them (and request for yourself) something sustainable. Lovely bamboo products, sustainable cosmetics, pretty vegan wraps for the kitchen, refillable toiletries, eco-friendly soap, or chilly bottle, there’s so many great choices out there. Sometimes we all just need to be introduced to something new to be convinced, and once we are, we’re converted.
Plastic is obviously one of the biggest challenges, especially if you have young children. Toys that last and get passed down through generations are one thing, but there’s far too much unnecessary plastic that is discarded within weeks or months – let alone the packaging. And when it comes to the onslaught of plastic, clearly Christmas is the worst time of year.
So what can be done? How about encouraging the children to ask for an experience rather than an item they don’t really need e.g. a trip to the cinema, a favourite take away delivery, trampolining session, or baking kit. Or request wooden, recyclable toys rather than plastic if your family prefer objects to experiences.
If you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint as a family, perhaps the new year is a chance for a new start. Is there a journey that could be walked, cycled, or car shared? What ideas can the kids come up with to reduce emissions in the home e.g. keep a checklist of things to turn off somewhere handy.
The best thing we can do to reduce waste is to reduce the amount of stuff we buy new. With this in mind, perhaps investing in some skills for the children could be worthwhile. How about a sewing machine, to encourage making their own clothes or repairing them? Or easy grow seeds for the garden or windowsill, to grow their own tomatoes or other veg?
Of course, any change of behaviour needs a bit of motivation and reward. We are here to help! If your children make ANY decision that puts the planet first, why not download our Eco Warrior badge. Perhaps see how many they can collect, and reward them with a sustainable or edible gift at the end of a fixed period.
You, and they, should be proud of making small steps that make a big difference. And understanding why they are doing it will be key to keeping good sustainable habits for life.
Our young children will be the future influencers, so let’s set them down an eco-friendly path now.
Download your very own ‘Congratulations’ poster here.