“You need to switch off the fan when you leave the room,” I often say this to my four-year-old. I say this at least 5 times each day and yet there are times when the fan remains on even when there is no one in the room. “ But why should I switch it off?” he asked me one day. While I sat to explain how important it is to conserve money (and meandered into), energy, and resources, I wasn’t sure of how much sense it made to him.
I realized that as a parent, I needed to seriously teach my children to be mindful of the environment and our larger society, and work towards protecting it. With the increase in gadget usage, kids today are spending lesser and lesser time outdoors. Their exposure to nature and to a heterogeneous society is becoming lower. With our children’s exposure to a cookie cutter condominium / colony crowd, their ability to handle diversity, see life from multiple perspectives stand reduced significantly. The importance and significance of protecting and contributing to society, nature, and the environment are getting lost.
This article lists a few fun ways in which you can broaden your child’s horizons (and also teach them about the environment, as a bonus).
1. Tune in to nature: Ensure that atleast one holiday that you take each year is to a place that actively practices sustainable living. Eat locally available food, take them to the fields to show them where and how their food is grown. Participate in the field activities. The kids will enjoy getting their hands dirty. Go into the local village and see the traditional art forms thriving. This will expose the kids to a whole new world. There are lots of options available today within and outside major cities to do this.
2. Organize a street-clean up drive: We all want to live in beautiful homes, but what about our surroundings? Pledge to clean-up your street at least once a month with the help of an army of children from your locality. Set targets and ensure you have goodies for the kids once they are done with the task. This will help in teaching them the importance of waste management.
3. Make Birthday’s more eco-friendly: Given the number of birthday parties kids attend, just ensuring that they either recycle the gift wrapping paper or use newspaper creatively to wrap the gifts can save a few trees from being felled. If you are still sending out paper invites then switch to using technology. Send out e-invites/ WhatsApp invites to save on paper. Encourage the kids to get creative with wrapping the gifts with paper. Making a game out of it will push them to think out of the box. Kids always remember their birthday’s and an important message delivered at this time, is likely to stick!
4.Grow some vegetables: While many of us live in apartments and do not have the luxury of space, some vegetables can be grown in your balcony with the little space you have as well. Get the kids involved in this process; from the initial discussion on what to grow, sourcing the seeds, planting, and thereafter nurturing the plant till it flowers and bears fruits. This will help the kids better appreciate the food on their plates, and understand the importance of a green planet.
5. Practice composting: Create an area in your balcony or garden where you can encourage your kids to practice composting. Help them segregate the waste and use the compost in your little garden. This will ensure that your garden thrives and also provides for a lesson in recycling, by utilizing the waste that is generated in your kitchen.
6. Give them a carbon-footprint calculator: Action speaks louder than words, so teach your kids how to calculate their carbon-footprint and make them conscious of how they are living. Once they see the results they can alter their daily activities to significantly reduce the load. Click here to calculate your carbon-footprint – http://www.carbonindependent.org/
7. Make Earth Day a big day: Just like we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries ensure that each year days of environmental significance like and Environmental Day are celebrated. Spend the day talking about the importance of maintaining our environment, watch a movie which reiterates this point, go out and enjoy a picnic in the outdoors and don’t forget to hug a tree.
These are just some of the ways in which our children may be able to understand the world and appreciate its beauty. That is the first step to preserving it.