How to teach children to reduce their carbon footprint?

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People often express concerns about future generations when it comes to global warming. And rightfully so. Climate change scientists often tend to say that it is quite “selfish not to care” at this point of time. A study published in Time Magazineshows that human beings are too selfish to endure present pain to avert future climate change“.

WOW!

We have to act now unless we want our kids to live on a seriously damaged planet.
We know that the next generation will be forced to live more a more environmentally friendly lifestyle than what we have done. It’s already time to educate the young generation about sustainable behaviour.

The question is: how can we teach children to reduce their carbon footprint?

What specific action points can you take to educate your kid about climate change?

If you are in a hurry, I have made a full list of things that you can do to create some environmental awareness towards children:

  1. Explain to the kid(s) why it’s important to turn off the lights when leaving a room.
  2. Show (non-graphic) pictures of animals surrounded by plastic in the ocean. Kids are often very welcoming for feeling sorry for animals.
  3. Learn the kids how to reduce food waste. If you want inspiration, I have written a very detailed guide about how to throw away less bread. That’s highly recommended. 🙂
  4. If you can, try to grow some vegetables in the garden. Once the children understands the hard work that lays behind what’s on their plate, they will get much more “respect” for the food.
  5. Look at TV shows and movies that feature how we can take care of our planet.
  6. In similarity with animals, using children literature is a very efficient way of educating kids. There are several good books online that can be used for this purpose (I will give you examples below)
  7. As a parent, you need to implement an eco-friendly lifestyle yourself. It doesn’t matter what you say to your kids unless you act as a role model. Use the railway system when you go on long-distance holidays, eat less beef and explain to the kid why you take the decisions that you do.Needless to say, there’s loads of other things you can do. However, this list would be a very good starting point if you feel that you aren’t doing enough for your kids on this topic.

Everyday habits

It all starts when they are small. If you, as a parent or teacher, are able to teach the kids some habits from the day they can walk, you have done something really valuable.

As previously mentioned: be a role model.

Always turn off the light when you are leaving a room, and make sure to tell the child why that is important. When I was young, which is aaaages ago, I was never told that turning off the light could have a bad impact on the environment. To me, it seemed more of a thing to do in order to save money, which is also true.

Someone at school might have told me that turning off the light or other electrical products might have been important. But it always came down to money. Saving the environment should actually be a stronger argument than saving a couple of dollars on the electricity bill. However, it is value in educating your child about both aspects.

Good examples of good behavior

Other things that a child should learn from he or she can walk, talk and “make everyday choices”:

– Always eat up everything that you put on the dinner plate.
– Try to walk or bike instead of driving a car.
– Try to grow some vegetables in the garden.
– Be aware of your children’s food habits. From both a health and environmental perspective.

Buy some relevant literature

I actually read through a couple of children books when I started this website. And these were books that were meant to educate kids about the importance of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Typically, books with a moral at the end of a story about some people or animals experiencing difficulties in their daily lie due to climate change. That type of book can be really valuable.

If you want to explore that opportunity, which I really think you should, you can have a look at our “Literature page” here (or look below..). It will not only educate the kid about climate change. It will also possibly improve their reading habits.

Top 3 children books about the environment

In order to make the process a bit easier, I have compiled a list of my top three children books about the environment/global warming/climate change. They are all educational, affordable, and fun to read.

It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!
The Problem of the Hot World
Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!
The Problem of the Hot World
Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
$9.99
$8.95
$14.95
Age range
8-15 years
5-8 years
9-12 years
It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!
It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!
$9.99
Age range
8-15 years
The Problem of the Hot World
The Problem of the Hot World
$8.95
Age range
5-8 years
Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
$14.95
Age range
9-12 years

Use “the silent approach

Implement environmentally friendly habits to your kid is not only about oral education. It is also about creating ecofriendly habits without explicitly explaining why. For instance, if a kid has always travelled by train instead of planes in his or her early years, chances are that this habit will continue on for the rest of his or her life.

Less flights, less meat

In other words, living an ecofriendly lifestyle yourself will help your kid. In fact, that is the very best way to teach your kid about reducing their carbon footprint. This will also include food habits. We know for a fact that if you eat less meat than the average, you are reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions. Try to make dinner at least once every week without any meat products.

That is a very good way to start healthy, natural food habits for your kid.

Science is very clear on this point: kids will educate their own kids in the same way that they have been raised. This might sound a bit weird, but you are actually in the position of shaping several future generations in the future. That’s a bit cool, isn’t it? 🙂

On these websites, you can calculate your personal eco-footprint.

Conclusion

Finding a way to make your kid more knowledgeable about their environmental footprint can be difficult. The way to succeed is to use a wide range of educational sources. And, believe it or not, but the parents are always the best role models. If you are living a sustainable, ecofriendly life, you have already done a great part of the work.

If you combine that with buying a book or two, you are already doing very good.

Here are 10 Songs With an Eco-Friendly Message [For Earth Day]

Relevant questions

Will my kids learn about climate change in school?

Yes, most countries in Europe and North America do have climate change as a part of the curriculum. If you are concerned that your kids will not be taught enough about this issue, you have to do some “home schooling” yourself. Starting with the ideas in this article would be a good start.

Are there any TV shows or movies that can teach my kid about climate change?

No good TV show have been made yet. But there are a couple of movies that explain how pollution will lead to a worse (and warmer) planet:

– Happy Feet (for kids aged 5+)
– Before The Flood (10 years+)*
– To the Arctic (7 years+)

These are only some of the movies that can be found. I only wrote down the ones that I have seen myself and that I know would be educational and “harm free” for kids.

*= I have actually written an article about Before The Flood. If you want to know more about the movie and where to find it, feel free to click this link. If you haven`t watched it: you should. Now. Today.

3 thoughts on “How to teach children to reduce their carbon footprint?”

  1. Avatar

    We need to Reach a point where children education is more about the environment than anything else.

    1) In the School cafeteria, there should be no meat.
    2) Children should learn WHY there isn’t any meat.
    3) We need to learn them that buying a lot of different accessories and stuff is bad for the planet.
    4) Traveling to another continent every time you got a summer holiday is not environmentally friendly. This is where parents need to take action.

    One thing is what we teach children in School. Another thing is what we parents teach them

  2. Avatar
    Au Pair from Germany (anonymous)

    I was hired by an au pair when I lived in the US. Little did my Republican Family know that they hired an au pair from europe that knew a lot about climate change – and in between the Math sessions that I was running With the kids, they also got some lecture about environmental practices. 🙂

    Their parents did not believe in climate change, which is partly why I felt it was my task to teach kids about behaving properly and not throwing trash on the street, not buying the most expensive and largest car, understand the importance of eating up alll the Food (and eating the RIGHT Food), etc.

    1. Avatar

      Hi Au Pair, I would say it’s quite a cheeky move to educate the kids about climate change “in the dark” 😉

      On the other side: these kids did not take any damage for being lectured as something that important. If it also helped them to gain healthy habits (turning off the light, eating up their food, traveling more eco-friendly), I am sure the parents were happy as well!

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