Ways Kids Can Help the Environment
There are many ways kids can help the environment. This post will discuss some small actions children and their parents and teachers can take to help the environment.
Walk, bicycle, ride your scooter or use public transportation when possible
Walking, bicycling or riding your scooter is the gentlest way to get from place to place, especially when you are going short distances. Children love getting outside and this is a great way to get them to develop gross motor skills and burn off some energy. Sometimes you need to go further, so using public transport is a second-best option. We’re lucky to live in London where public transport such as buses, tubes and trains make it possible to avoid the use of a car. Our children love riding on buses, trains and the tube in particular, so it’s not only better for the environment than driving a car, but it’s also more fun!
Stop using plastic
There has been a lot of press about plastic waste over the last few years. The throw away plastic bags in grocery shops is often the main thing that people have focused on. However, we use so much other plastic in our everyday lives – from bottles for lotions and soaps to nappies & wet wipes for babies, and food packaging for many other types of products.
I recently read a post by THE BEST KIND OF CHAOS about reducing plastic. Jennifer has a lot of good ideas for reducing plastic from our everyday lives. Unfortunately, you can see from her post that plastic is so pervasive that it can be a lot of work to reduce and eliminate our use of it. In order not to get overwhelmed, it’s probably easiest to tackle one thing at a time. That’s what we’ve been trying to do. We started with switching to reusable nappies (most of the time). Then we switched to bar soap, then bar shampoo. Our next step will eventually be to stop using wet wipes… It’s hard to do, but reading her post is a great way to get started!
It’s good to get children involved in thinking of ways to reduce their plastic waste. For example, in the shop, you may see if they can help you find foods that have the least plastic packaging such as loose vegetables versus vegetables in bags. Older children will probably have heard at least something about the plastic crisis. Discussing it with them and getting their ideas on reducing it may lead to some interesting things that they can do to help reduce their plastic use.
Stop using glitter
As we’ve just discussed above, there is a lot of plastic waste! It’s really bad for the environment, particularly for the oceans and the plants and animals that live there. Unfortunately, glitter is made of plastic. While it is very pretty and kids go crazy for it, it’s a luxury rather than an essential item. One of the easiest ways kids can help the environment is to stop using glitter.
Turn off lights when out of the room
Children are great at remembering things. They will be great at remembering to turn off the lights when they leave the room –they’ll probably remind you too! This is a simple and easy way to cut back on electricity. It will not only help the environment but will save on electricity bills as well.
Grow plants in your garden, on your terrace or in your window
Growing plants is a great way for kids to help the environment. Many plants sustain animals and insects in the wild by providing food and shelter. Certain flowering (pollinator) plants are meant to be particularly good for bees, bats, birds, butterflies and other insects. These plants include lavender, campanula, cornflowers, cosmos, foxglove, echinacea, poppies, sunflowers, evening primrose, dahlia, lupine, marigold, calendula, and more.
Make seed bombs to spread wildflowers
Using seed bombs is a great way to plant and spread wildflowers! Children can make these or you can also buy them. Wildflowers are important for bees, bats, butterflies and other insects but sadly they have greatly declined in recent years. Seed bombs provide a wonderful way for children to be able to distribute wildflower seeds by throwing them and spreading them around. Please see my post on Sowing & Spreading Wild Flowers with Seed Bombs.
Create a bug mansion or minibeast hotel
Children can build or buy bug mansions and minibeast hotels as a way to provide a sheltering home for bugs. This is a great way to attract and support wildlife. The wildlife trust has instructions for making a large minibeast mansion or if you don’t have lots of space you can make or buy a bug hotel.
Feed the birds in the winter (you can also put out fresh water for them)
Humans have destroyed much of the natural habitat turning it into cities and farmland. As a result, there is no longer the water, food and shelter that birds need, particularly during the winter and early spring. You can help by putting out seeds and water during this part of the year. See my posts on pinecone birdfeeders and birdfeeder cakes for fun ways to do this with children.
Use reusable bottles or cups
One easy way to cut back on the amount of waste we make is to use reusable bottles and cups, rather than throw away ones (paper cups or plastic cups). Children can have their own water bottle. They can also ask when they go out to use a glass or cup rather than a plastic or paper cup. We have used Klean Kanteens for ourselves and our children but other metal water bottles have been developed in more recent years.
Composting is another great way that kids can help the environment. Some places already have composting as part of their rubbish collection but not all places do. Composting some of your food and paper waste is a way to reduce the rubbish that goes in the landfill and will also provide rich soil for gardens. For more details on how to compost you may want to read this leaflet from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Recycle as much as you can
The best option is to try to buy things without much packaging but this isn’t always possible. As a second-best, recycling allows resources to be re-used and made into new ones. Recycling is also a great way for children to think about the different materials that things are made out of and to sort them based on their properties.
Shop local food as much as possible
Buying locals products as much as possible can help reduce waste in several ways. First, local foods take fewer fossil fuels to transport. Second, they require less packaging to transport. Children can help with shopping by finding products that are locally grown and produced. It isn’t always possible to buy local, but making an effort to buy some local products can make a difference.
Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth / washing your hands
Turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth and washing your hands is a way to cut back on your water use. Children can easily do this by turning the tap on and off so they only use it when necessary. This will also be something that they will be great at reminding everyone else to do it too. 🙂
Use cloth rags/towels for cleaning up rather than wet wipes
Children tend to have lots of spills and accidents so there’s often a need to wipe things up. Wet wipes are very convenient because they are already wet and can easily be thrown away. Unfortunately, they are also made of plastic and are hugely wasteful. Getting children to clean up their own messes with rags and towels will help reduce waste and help prevent fatbergs such as ‘Fatty McFatberg’. While the rags will need to be washed, they won’t create the same kind of waste as single-use plastics.
If you see rubbish, pick it up and put it in the bin
Children can help out in a small way by picking up rubbish. They love helping out, and picking up rubbish they see on the ground and putting it in the bin is an easy way to do this. Not only will it help keep their surroundings looking nice, but it also helps prevent animals from getting injured or killed from rubbish.
Conclusions – Ways Kids Can Help the Environment
These are just a few small ways that kids can help the environment. It is far from a comprehensive list and I’m sure that children will think of other great ways that they can help the world.
One final thing that children can do is get their parents and school to begin to take steps to reduce waste. 🙂