We know that there are many ways to become more sustainable and climate-wise, from recycling to buying local produce. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin when discussing these issues with children. As a starting point, we need kids to understand what is meant by sustainability and how they can help the planet.
Though sustainability is a broad concept, put simply, it is understanding the impact humans have on the earth and how this impacts future generations. Teaching this to kids through hands-on activities will help them start their sustainable journey – no matter what age they are!
To help you get started, we have put together a list of 15 activities you can do with your children to start your eco-adventure off.
This may seem like an obvious starting point, however differentiating between recyclable and non-recyclable items can be challenging. Consider creating separate recycling bins with labels to make it easy for kids to see what should go where. By recycling items such as old toys and crisp packets, you are minimizing the volume of waste that ends up in landfill. This, in turn, helps save the planet by reducing the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming.
2. Litter picking
Litter lines most roads and can be found just about anywhere. Get yourself a bin bag and some gloves and pick up some trash. This will enable kids to have a positive impact right on their doorstep. By removing litter from your local landscape, you are providing a safe and litter-free habitat for wildlife. This activity also shows children the big difference a single person can make.
3. Get growing
By growing your own food, the distance between the food source and your plate is drastically minimized. There are many plants that you can grow at home that don’t require a garden, such as cress and sweet peas. These require a small amount of compost in a pot and take around 4-5 weeks to grow.
4. Trash art
Use items destined for recycling to create magnificent artworks. For example, you could use a tin can to make a holder for all your art supplies. Or, make a birdhouse out of a milk carton, and fill it with wood chips and plants to keep them warm. Decorate it to attract your local birds. If you put a dish of freshwater for the birds to drink and bathe in, this will make your birdhouse even more attractive.
5. Go outside
By simply being outside and appreciating the natural world, kids will be inspired and start to love the outdoors. Play a game such as Hide and Seek or What’s the Time Mr Wolf to make spending time in nature fun.
6. Become a bookworm
There are plenty of books that help kids to learn more about the earth and our natural world. For example, Bee & Me teaches young readers about the importance of bees in our environment. Or the book about the inspirational Jane Goodall called ‘The Watcher’, tracing her life from her UK childhood to studying chimpanzees in the wild.
7. DIY paper
Using old paper scraps destined for the recycle bin, you can make your own paper. Simply shred the scrap paper, soak it, blend the pulp, place a mesh sheet over a tray and pour the pulp over it. Next, shape the pulp how you want, place a tea towel over it, roll with a rolling pin, flip the mesh, and let your DIY paper dry on a flat surface.
8. Plant a tree
One of the best things anybody can do to connect with nature is plant a tree. Plant one in your garden, or even a small one in your house, and let your child watch it grow as they look after it. Strawberries and raspberries are an easy starting point, or if you want something bigger, apple trees are easy to grow.
9. Plastic waste bottle
Start collecting your plastic waste in a bottle, and you will soon see how much plastic you are using every day. Time how long it takes for you to fill the bottle and keep doing it until the time increases. The longer it takes for you to fill the bottle, the less plastic waste you are using.
10. Bird spotting
Go outside and count how many different bird species there are in your garden or your local area. If you can, go online or use a book to see if you can identify which birds you saw. You can sign up for a free guide with the RSPB.
11. Insect hotel
Create your own insect hotel using materials from your garden and watch all kinds of wildlife visit it. You can make your bug hotel at any time of the year. First, choose a suitable site – you will get different visitors depending on your location. Choose the main structure such as wooden pallets or bricks, and then fill in the gaps with different materials from your garden, such as dry leaves or sticks. You want to try and provide different tunnels, nooks, and beds for different residents.
Start your own compost pile. By taking responsibility for the food waste you generate, you are preventing more waste from going to landfill. The main ingredients you need to make your own compost pile are dead plant material, household waste, and a layer of soil that breaks down the waste. You can either make this in the corner of your garden, or in a container. Add water occasionally and stir weekly.
13. Spring cleaning
Spring is around the corner, so now is the perfect time to begin spring cleaning. Donate your old clothes and recycle what you can. Teach kids the importance of trying to repair an item before you replace it.
14. Nature treasure hunt
Compile a list of items you would like to find outside, such as woodlouse or oak leaves, and go on an adventure to try and find them. Remember to leave nature how you found it, and tick items off as you go. This will help your children to gain a greater appreciation for our beautiful planet.
15. Calculate your carbon footprint
Use Climate Wise’s carbon footprint calculator to teach your children what a carbon footprint is and find out how big yours is. If you want to take things one step further, you can also offset your family’s carbon footprint with us.
We hope this list helps you start your eco journey and shows the difference just one person can make.
If you’re looking for more things to do, check out Noah and Brookie’s Corner, where you’ll find stories, games, monthly challenges, and more! Let us know how you get on.