Climate change will do more than impact our future it will impact your children.

Kids should know about our environmental impact and develop eco-friendly habits when they're young, and parents can help put them on that path. Bringing your kids up sustainably will inspire them to minimize their carbon footprint by making good choices.

How can you promote sustainable habits in your children? Starts by setting a good example. Here are some eco-friendly activities you can enjoy with little ones:

1. Walk and Bike

When you run out of milk, do you tie on your tennis shoes, or do you grab your car keys? If you drive everywhere, you're missing out on more than family time and a chance to exercise you’re also passing up a sustainable teaching opportunity.

Sometimes you need your car to stock up for the week. However, use foot or pedal power for minor errands whenever possible. If your children are old enough, walk or bike them to school to reduce some fumes at the parent drop-off spot.

2. Carry Reusables

You wouldn't stand on the beach and toss Styrofoam into the ocean. But if you often buy gas station coffee and toss the empty cup in the trash, it has an equivalent effect. Even if you repurpose grocery store bags for pet waste, they eventually end up in the ocean.

Inspire environmental stewardship by carrying reusable bags and cups everywhere — you’ll teach your child that caring for the environment can happen with the smallest everyday steps.  

3. Start a Game

Reprimanding your kids for taking long showers or leaving the lights on doesn’t engage their interest. Instead, make it a game to see how fast they can thoroughly wash. Have a contest to see who can remember to shut off lights and unplug appliances before leaving the house. Award the winner by letting them select family dinner that evening or pick the film for movie night.

Create teachable moments when you replace products, too. When you buy light bulbs, ask your children what type you should purchase and why. Involve them in discussions about purchasing new appliances that save energy.

4. Repurpose Items

When you clean this season, ask your children to get creative and imagine ways to repurpose old items. Transform an old stuffed animal into a doggie chew toy by removing choking hazards, like buttons — which you can sew on clothes.

You can cut up worn T-shirts to use as cleaning rags or stitch fabric scraps into clothing for dolls. Plus, children can imagine hundreds of uses for cardboard boxes.

5. Plant a Garden

Growing a garden teaches care and kindness toward living things. It gives children an understanding of where their food comes from. Plus, it offers a stream of teachable moments about everything from irrigation to composting.

Make a compost bin to fertilize growing crops without spending a dime. Teach your children what items they can and can't add to the mix. Let them take turns rotating and aerating your pile.

6. Explore Local Parks

Research shows a person's sense of connection with nature drives greater eco-consciousness. Spending time outdoors inspires your
child to care for the planet. If they read about water pollution, their knowledge remains academic. If they notice rubbish floating in their favorite fishing hole, they'll take action to clean it up.

As much as possible, take your children to the park or playground. Stroll local museum grounds and talk about the plants and animals you see. For an inexpensive getaway idea, take the family camping. You'll save money compared to staying in hotels, and you'll deepen your connection with the earth.

Instilling an eco-conscious mindset can impact little ones’ futures even more than you think. In addition to teaching them green habits and appreciation for nature, you may inspire your child's future career path. At Arizona State University, for example, 70% of undergraduate alumni are working in sustainability-related careers. As climate change continues, it’s essential the next generation makes it their mission to work with an eco-friendly mindset.

Give Your Kids a Greener Future

To teach your children sustainability, model good green habits and get your kids involved in eco-friendly activities. By inspiring kids’ curiosity, creativity and compassion for the planet, you do your parental part to ensure the environmental stewardship of the next generation.

Author's Bio: 

Alyssa Abel is a learning and education writer who hopes to help the next generation grow in the best
possible way. Read more of her work on her website, Syllabusy.