Want your kids to protect the planet and why it’s important to do so? Teach them these 6 unique ways to care for the environment that your family can do!
“Reuse, reduce, recycle.” You hear this all the time, from kindergarten classrooms all through adulthood. You’ve also heard to turn electricity off when you’re not using it and to conserve water by turning it off while you brush your teeth.
But what about other ways to care for the environment? Those that may not be so obvious but make just as much impact (if not more)?
You see, caring for the environment is less of a thing to “do” and more a lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you can’t drive to work or use a straw, even if both would be eco-friendly choices. But you and your family can adopt many ways of living that all contribute to preserving the planet.
6 unique ways to care for the environment as a family
As parents, we have the important role of modeling and teaching our values on to our kids. Frankly, I don’t do well with shocking headlines of the ozone layer disappearing, or yet another tragedy (man-made or natural) destroying our earth.
Instead, I take comfort in taking action.
In fact, if you find your child feeling down about the state of the environment, point her to what she can do to fight it. She’ll likely hear crazy stats about pollution, or even feel afraid of the natural disasters going around her.
By banding together as a family, you can take just these six simple and unique ways to care for the environment:
1. Borrow books, movies and music from the library
I read a ton of books… but hardly own any. Sure, I have my two bookshelves stocked with favorites and still buy a few here and there, but these days, I borrow most of them from the library.
The library—an eco-friendly option? Yup. The more you borrow instead of own, the less materials you consume. Rather than piling books at home you’ll read just once, you can borrow and return them for someone else to use.
And of course the same is true for movies and music that are best shared, especially if you only use them once. Besides, borrowing from the library not only helps care for the environment, but promotes learning and literacy as well.
Want several book ideas? Join my newsletter and get my Read Aloud Book List! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you:
2. Take your child to nature outings
Your child will only take genuine action to protect the earth when she understands what’s at stake. A nature outing is both a relaxing and beautiful way to be together as well as a necessary step to show her exactly what we have to preserve.
She’ll be able to explore and see for herself the importance of nature, driving her to appreciate all it has to offer. And playing outdoors is simply a fun and open-ended way to play and spend the day.
Even if you live in a big city like me, plenty of nature spots are still available to visit. Below are a few of our go-to outings, both simple and grand:
- Hiking trails
- Botanical gardens
- Parks (even your local ones)
- Nature centers
3. Grow a garden
I had to hand it to my five-year-old. He was trying to grow dandelion flowers in kinetic pretend sand, convinced that this was how you plant a garden.
I knew then I had to step in and show him exactly how plants grow.
So I bought a few containers, some bags of potting mix, vegetable food and spinach seeds. Within days, all the seedlings began growing and thriving. We were even able to harvest the spinach and prepare a few recipes with them.
You see, a garden is a fantastic way for your child to understand the growth process of a plant. She’ll learn that seeds sowed in the soil will later grow, all with a little help from water, the sun and good soil. And you don’t need a backyard, either—container gardening works just as well.
4. Instill values of “enough”
Frugality isn’t just about saving money or pinching pennies—living with “enough” ties in so much to our environment.
After all, less excess and consumption mean we use just enough resources without being wasteful. And it’s not about never buying clothes or patching a hole for the tenth time. Instead, you could teach your child the values of:
- Fixing broken items first before replacing them
- Making do without an item
- Using only enough and no more
- Teaching them not to be materialistic
- Taking care of our belongings
- Promoting open-ended toys and crafts with simple materials
5. Shop at farmers markets
Every Sunday, my family and I make a short trek to our local farmers market for fresh food. Sure, we still head to the grocery store to pick up the items we couldn’t find at the market. But by shopping at farmers markets, we’re helping to care for the environment.
Shopping at farmers markets provides you with high-quality food while supporting an eco-friendly process of growing and buying food.
How? Local farmers travel less distances to bring you food, using less gasoline. They also tend to practice safe farming with no pesticides. And they grow a variety of food and animals, creating an ecosystem that relies less on human intervention and more on nature.
Shopping from farmers also teaches kids where our food comes from.
We took a road trip to San Francisco and drove through central California farms. During our drive, we talked about the farmers and their farms and fields as we drove by, and the kids got to see firsthand where our farmers grow their food.
6. Read about the world
My family and I don’t travel too much, so exposing our kids to different parts of the world isn’t exactly feasible. So we compensate by reading about the world and the planet.
We’ve read books and encyclopedias about different countries and their customs, and my eldest has a “travel list” that includes South America, Egypt and the Grand Canyon. Learning about the earth’s landmarks and resources enforces stewardship towards a planet we need to care for.
Even though the books don’t talk about saving the planet, the very exposure to the wider world helps instill the importance of caring for it nonetheless.
Bonus: Buy reusable household items
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase.
Think about all the items we use once and dispose of. Now, think about whether there’s a reusable version you can try. For instance, here are a few items my family and I have bought to replace disposable items:
- Sponges: Ditch disposable sponges and use these washable ones instead.
- Snack bags: Replace flimsy plastic with these reusable bags.
- Straws: Regular and boba or smoothie straws cut down on plastic.
- Produce bags: I always hated using those plastic bags at the grocery store. These are so versatile!
- Rags: Cut down on paper towel use by re-purposing old burp cloths and dish towels into rags.
- Mason jars: The next time you go out for smoothies or boba, ask the staff to pour the drink directly into your mason jar.
Living green isn’t just recycling, hugging trees and living off the grid.
Teach your child to appreciate nature’s beauty by reading books and exploring natural spots. Instill the values of “enough” and living within your means to avoid excess. And support systems that protect the earth like buying from farmers and borrowing instead of buying.
It’s simple changes to your family’s lifestyle like these that can make a big impact on protecting our earth.
Get more tips:
- Top Educational Activities for 3 Year Olds
- Earth Day Books for Preschoolers
- 2 Year Old Development Activities to Do With Your Child
- 10 Frugal Tips for Moms that Actually Save You Money
- 9 Children’s Books about Peace
Want even more book ideas? Join my newsletter and get my Read Aloud Book List! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you: