recyclebook.jpg Recycling is becoming more important with each passing day. As global warming evolves as a pressing issue, education is growing in significance. How can we reduce our carbon footprints if we aren’t sure where to start? The fact of the matter is that educational resources for those who want to go green are not always accessible. Furthermore, it can be difficult for children to learn about the benefits of going green. If you have kids, you’re in a prime position to educate the next generation on current environmental issues, as well as preventative measures. While you don’t need to completely immerse your children in global warming statistics, it can be a good idea to start early. By beginning to teach your kids about the planet at a young age, you can progressively introduce environmental concepts over time. Here is some insight into teaching your own children about global issues that may one day impact the way they live.

Green education – The early years

It’s important to note young children do not have the coping skills necessary to comprehend environmental tragedies, whether it’s global warming or animal extinction. For this reason, you should make it a point to avoid a problem-oriented approach, according to the North American Association for Environmental Education. Instead, try to focus on nature, specifically by introducing little ones to the outdoors. It’s critical to help children understand how adults play a positive role in the care of plants and animals at this stage. The more children experience nature first-hand, the more likely they are to gain respect for their surroundings. At home, think about activities such as gardening. This can help kids make the connection between seeds, soil and the plants they see outside. You can also give your children tools, such as magnifying glasses, to explore their surroundings.

Environmental issues – The beginning of grade school

Once your kids start going to school, they will have access to numerous educational resources. Their teachers to their school library will be assets to them as they pursue information on the environment. However, there are still tactics you can use at home to ensure your kids are learning as much as they can about going green. One easy way to do so is to purchase your children books on the topic (as soon as they learn to read, of course). There are several green books written specifically toward children of a specific age, and your local bookstore may have plenty of them. These items also make ideal birthday or holiday gifts. Another way to keep your kids in a green frame of mind is to start introducing the concept of recycling. Think about labeling specific bins around the house for recycling paper and plastic. Showing your kids how they can reuse items, instead of throwing them away, is educational as well. You might also want to exhibit ways to save electricity, energy and water around the house. Teaching your kids habits, such as turning off lights and faucets when they aren’t in use, can have a lasting effect. As your children adopt these habits, they might carry them into adulthood.

Keeping it green – The teenage years

Once your kids have grown into teenagers, you have the perfect opportunity to begin addressing environmental issues and the benefits of going green. Teenagers are at the age in which they can begin to grasp these concepts and seek out resources to learn more on their own. While you may have already started recycling around the house as a good example, make it a point to explain why you have these types of policies at home. Explain to your teenagers how they can positively impact the planet by recycling, for example, as opposed to throwing away their trash. Keep it interesting for your teens by sharing statistics and facts on global warming. Your teen may be more likely to pay attention if you’re not only discussing why he or she should recycle, but how it has already had an impact on the environment. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s official website for more information on teaching kids about the planet.

Staying positive – College and beyond

A common problem that educators and parents alike run into when it comes to environmental teaching is negativity. In short, it’s not all that easy to discuss issues, such as water shortages and global warming. This may be especially frightful to those who are approaching young adulthood and the prospect of being “the next generation.” However, there are ways you can discuss the planet’s issues without completely overwhelming your kids. Diana Liverman, the co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, wrote about her personal experience in The Washington Post. “I decided to change my narrative,” she stated in the publication. “However negative I might feel about the environmental future, I started to include many more positive and hopeful examples and analyses in my lectures.” Liverman went on to state that she found success through focusing on the achievements of pioneers, such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, in landscape preservation. It’s this type of approach that can help young adults view environmental problems in a more positive light. Empowerment can be challenging, especially when your audience already has a negative outlook on a specific topic. However, changing your mood and attitude can rub off on your kids for the better. Additionally, you should try to make it a point to lead by example throughout all of your kids’ lives – not just when they’re toddlers, teens or young adults. People in general respond better when they don’t feel like they’re being preached to, and it can have a more lasting effect. How did you initially learn about the environment and how to go green? Using your own real-life experience as guidance can give you unique ideas on how to approach your children. In the end, they may end up using your strategy with their own kids!