Over the past 10 years, sustainable living has become increasingly popular among Australian families. A study from Planet Ark and HP Australia found that more than 90% of Australians are worried about sustainability.
There is, however, still a long way to go before the nation as a whole becomes adequately sustainable. One way to accelerate the process is to teach children about the importance of sustainable living from a young age.
While it may seem like a too-complex concept for children to fully grasp, there are a number of simple ways the importance of sustainability can be taught to children. This includes helping them make smart clothing choices, encouraging ongoing recycling, and saving water and electricity where possible.
Make smart clothing choices
Most children put very little real thought into the clothes they're wearing. They're happy as long as it looks pretty or cool and is comfortable to wear. Considering that the clothing industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and is known for unfair labour practices, we can’t go wrong by helping our children to make smart clothing choices.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to teach them how to read clothing labels. Labels typically provide valuable information pertaining to the materials the item is made from and how to care for it with regards to washing, drying and ironing.
Apart from checking whether their clothes are made from natural or synthetic fibres, children may also be able to determine whether the item is sustainable by looking to see if it is endorsed by Fairtrade Australia and other environmental associations.
Encourage constant recycling
Recycling is one of the simplest and most effective ways to become more sustainable.
A good way to get the children involved in your recycling efforts is by making it as fun as possible. Make separate, colourful bins for different types of recyclable materials such as paper, glass and aluminium. Show children how to sort the garbage into the corresponding bins, and consider making a star chart to reward exceptional efforts.
In addition to recycling at home, schools can also initiate recycling programmes where learners are encouraged to bring newspapers, magazines and other recyclables from home.
There are a large number of recycling centres across Australia that will be more than willing to assist with community recycling drives.
Save water and electricity where possible
Even very young children can be involved in sustainable living by being taught how to save water and electricity wherever possible. Encourage everyone to only turn lights on when absolutely necessary, and also turn them off again whenever they leave a room. A few gentle reminders may be required before children remember to unplug electronic devices, such as phone chargers, when not in use.
As sustaining freshwater reserves is also of the utmost importance, children can be taught how to save water in a number of ways. This includes turning off the tap while brushing their teeth, and only flushing the toilet when it is really required. Other ways children can save water is by not wearing multiple sets of clothes a day that increases the wash load, and by taking short showers instead of long baths.
Children can be taught about sustainability from a very young age. Even simple, small efforts will go a long way in helping the next generation lead more kind and sustainable lives.