Helping Kids Understand the Importance of Being Environmentally-Friendly

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teaching kids to be environmentally-friendly
Image by Loren Kerns via Flickr Creative Commons license.

More than ever before, there is a need for people who are passionate about the environment. Understanding the basics of a “green” lifestyle and being environmentally-friendly is a great way to help take care of the natural world, and there is no better time to start than in childhood.

The idea of taking care of the earth can seem overwhelming to kids, particularly given the scope of the problems facing their generation and the complexity of many of the issues involving the environment. By starting with basic concepts and introducing them at a young age, you can help your kids become good stewards of the environment.

How to Teach Your Children to be Green

One of the easiest concepts for children to understand is the idea of cleaning up after themselves. This can easily be translated to the environment. Ask kids to help you pick up litter when you are doing activities outdoors, keeping a bag handy when you are on walks. Starting this habit young will help your kids form a natural inclination to want to keep the earth clean — and protect it.

Next, make sure you are giving your child plenty of opportunities to interact with nature. Take them outside frequently, getting into the woods, or near the water whenever possible. Go to national or state parks if you are able to do so, or stay close to home — just being in the natural world can have a tremendous impact on your children.

One of the ways we can help kids understand the importance of being environmentally friendly is through the choices we make in our own lives, including through the purchases we make. As consumers, we have the power to influence corporate decisions through our spending choices — and we can influence our kids by showing them we care about the kind of products we purchase.

Talking to kids about why we are buying certain items and why we are avoiding others is critical in helping them understand the need to be environmentally-friendly. For example, you can talk to your child about the need to avoid excessive packaging or how disposable items create too much trash.

You may also talk about buying quality products that will last a long time, rather than buying cheaply-made items that will need to be replaced quickly. Helping kids become conscious of these types of choices — and the companies  committed to the environment — can help them become more environmentally-friendly. Read on to learn about a few companies that have taken the lead on environmentally-friendly choices.

Companies Who Have Committed to the Environment

Patagonia

Sportswear company Patagonia is leading the charge of environmentally-responsible companies. In addition to several initiatives aimed at saving national parks, Patagonia’s mission underscores its commitment to protecting the environment. The company donates at least one percent of its sales to grassroots environmental causes around the world.

Its Worn Wear program is dedicated to ensuring its products last and can be repaired, reducing the number of items that are thrown away. Patagonia also uses recycled and environmentally-friendly materials in all of its clothing, and uses energy and environmentally-efficient facilities and stores. Finally, Patagonia gives employees opportunities to volunteer, and encourages all of its staff to drive less and commute to work through other means.

Clif

Clif Bar is another company dedicated to helping the environment, with recyclable packaging for all of its products. The Clif headquarters are LEED platinum status, featuring a massive solar panel system. Clif uses a traceability program to obtain products from farmers and suppliers who use fair labor practices, and helps its suppliers go green. Clif also rewards its own employees for making energy efficient improvements to their own homes and for reducing their carbon footprints in their commutes.

LendEDU

Though they do not create any products as an internet-based company, LendEDU, a financial product comparison site, is still dedicated to helping the environment. For every loan the company funds, they have a tree planted through One Tree Planted. The company hopes “to help with global reforestation and to help make our Earth a better place.”

IKEA

IKEA is another company invested in sustainability throughout the world.  The company obtains almost half of its wood from sustainable forests. All of its cotton  comes from farms  that meet the “better cotton” standards (using reduced amounts of water, energy, chemical fertilizers and pesticides). IKEA also uses solar panels at its stores for energy, and has set a goal of being powered 100% by renewable energy sources by 2020.

Closing It Out

Leading by example is crucial in teaching your kids to be environmentally-friendly. Choosing to purchase items from companies that have environmental initiatives is just one aspect of how you can show your children caring for the environment is important to you — and something we should all be doing in our daily lives.

We, at Biofriendly Planet, would like to thank Patty Moore for her guest blog post and insightful tips. You can find more of Patty’s personal finance, career, and motherhood articles over at her Twitter @WorkMomLife. When she’s not at work, you can find her playing with her daughter or going on long runs.

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