Sustainability as a goal refers to the aim of maintaining or improving the quality of life for current and future generations while ensuring that environmental, social, and economic resources are preserved for the long term. It involves making decisions and taking actions that balance the needs of people, the planet, and prosperity. Living a more sustainable lifestyle is the future of humanity. Our destructive habits need to be replaced with sustainable practices if we are to continue as a species. While your children can read about sustainable initiatives in books, a great deal more can be learned in experiencing why sustainability is important. Here are some ideas for discussion and hands on experiences.
Why Sustainability Matters
Sustainability is important for several reasons:
- Environmental Impact: Unsustainable practices can lead to environmental degradation, including deforestation, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Sustainable practices help protect natural resources and ecosystems.
- Climate Change: Unsustainable practices, such as excessive greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture, contribute to climate change. Sustainable choices, like adopting a plant-based diet, can help reduce these emissions.
- Resource Conservation: Sustainable practices help conserve finite resources like water, land, and energy. For example, plant-based diets generally require less water and land than animal-based diets.
- Biodiversity: Unsustainable practices can lead to a loss of biodiversity, which is essential for ecosystem health and resilience. Sustainable practices help protect and promote biodiversity.
- Health: Sustainable practices often promote healthier lifestyles. For example, a plant-based diet has been associated with lower rates of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain types of cancer.
- Social Impact: Sustainable practices can have positive social impacts, such as supporting local communities, promoting fair labor practices, and reducing food insecurity.
- Long-Term Viability: Sustainability ensures that resources are used in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
How To Teach Children the Importance of Sustainability
First hand experiences tend to stick within our minds for a great deal longer and children are no different. In fact, there are probably plenty of instances from your childhood that have impacted your life in various ways. This is true even if you really don’t want to admit some of them to yourself. You may be wondering how you can teach children the importance of sustainability in an interactive way. Here are some hands on ways to teach kids about conservation and sustainability practices.
1. Talk About Waste
One of the most depressing areas of humanity are those designated as dump sites. This is where the culmination of trash from the community collects in an ever growing pile of garbage. Although some sites require a payment to enter, the experience is well worth the expense. While demonstrating where trash goes when children throw something away, reinforce the visual with lessons as to what you should be recycling and buying biodegradable alternatives. Just visiting a landfill dump will teach children the importance of sustainability. Then discuss the alternatives to help them understand how they can help preserve our environment.
2. Discuss Water Use
Fill five, one gallon milk jugs with water. This will provide a visual with how much water is used each time the toilet is flushed. Depending on the style of your toilet, it can exhaust anywhere from 3.5 to seven gallons of water per use. In fact, you can have your children fill the toilet’s reservoir with one gallon of water at a time. In this way they can see for themselves how much water is used each flush. Furthermore, this can also be a visual aid for shower use. Each gallon of water is about 1/10th the amount that is used in a 10-minute shower.
This type of hand on lesson may go pretty far to teach children the importance of sustainability. They can then understand how taking a shorter and/or cooler shower can help the environment we live in. Talk to them about the resources that are used in cleaning the water, transporting the water, and heating the water. That is why water should be used wisely. Here are some tips to save water at home.
3. Try Solar and Wind Power Kits
There are a variety of solar and wind power kits that can teach kids how renewable energies work and why it’s important. Most of these kits are less than $70 and can be reused or maintained as practical developments to power toys and clocks. The wind power and solar kits can teach children the importance of sustainability and help them learn how things work at the same time. The important detail is to focus on the amount of power that is being developed from these renewable sources as opposed to constantly feeding a power plant coal and oil on a daily basis. This waste of fossil fuels maintains steam pressure to spin the turbine to create power instead of letting the wind do it for you.
4. Demonstrate Air Quality
If you live in a large city, try to go for a drive that allows you to see the city as a whole. On especially certain days, you can teach children the importance of sustainability and demonstrate the quality of air yourself and your children are breathing just from the thick smog that settles above the city. Explain to your children that this isn’t a cloud, but a collection of exhausted materials that you are breathing every day.
5. Share Knowledge Backed By Facts And Statistics
When people believe in a specific product or technology blindly, they ignore facts that are provided to the contrary of the circumstance. Always research your information before divulging it to your children as you could mislead them with “facts” that are false. You want your children to be educated, not conspiracy theorists. The internet is loaded with information, and it’s up to you to research the content for validity before you teach your children information that is incorrect. Teach them how to vet their sources.
The more information that you can give your children on why sustainability is important with a visual or hands-on effect, the greater the impact will be. While they can read about this information in books and on the Internet, experiencing the situation first hand can really teach children the importance of sustainability and have lasting effects throughout their lives.
Help empower our youth to shape the future of humanity. Teach them that they can’t fix everything, but they can fix something! Teach them to be the change they want to see.