Seven billion of us don't have a back-up planet, as Elton John famously sang, 'Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids,'. We rely on Mother Earth for everything, so it's important to teach our children to treat her with love and respect.
World Environment Day falls on 5 June, followed by World Oceans Day on 8 June, so let's look at some simple ways to raise an enviro-aware child.
Lead by example
Children learn from their parents, so it's important that you demonstrate environmentally-friendly behaviour. This could mean taking out the compost, resisting the lure of 'fast fashion', picking up someone else's rubbish, planting a tree on Arbor Day, also on 5 June, and generally thinking globally and acting locally.
There are so many ways to cut down on plastic at home, and because this year's World Environment Day theme is Air Pollution, it's a good time to step away from the family gas-guzzler and walk or ride where possible.
Inspire a love of nature
Whether they're tramping through the forest, camping under the stars or watching the waves roll in, it's important to connect your child with the earth and instil a sense of wonder and respect for the natural environment.
If they enjoy the natural world, they'll care for the natural world - and nature play also has physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits for children, which you can read about here.
Encourage green habits at home
From a young age, children can be taught to reduce, reuse, recycle, and be environmentally aware. These daily habits boost their life skills and help the planet, so encourage your child to do things like:
- Turn off the tap while they're brushing teeth
- Put rubbish in the correct bins whether it be compost, recycling, and general rubbish
- Turn off the lights when leaving a room
- Use both sides of the paper when doing art and craft
- Share toys with friends and charity shops, instead of expecting brand-new things
- Dress for the weather, instead of always relying on the heater and air conditioning
- Flush the toilet for number twos, but let yellow mellow
- Grow vegetables and herbs with Mum and Dad which gives them hands-on skills and also teaches them about sustainable living and where food comes
Share enviro-friendly content with your child
Books like Dr Seuss' The Lorax and Jess French's What A Waste: Rubbish, Recycling and Protecting our Planet teach children about the importance of the environment, and there are also apps with an environmental focus, like Ansel and Clair with Little Green Island.
Older children can learn a lot from a David Attenborough documentary, and his new release, Our Planet shows how beautiful Earth is and how humans are affecting the world.
By making small and conscious changes in our lives, all ages can contribute positively to our home planet. We want a bright future for our youngest generation, so let's unite in protecting our precious environment.