Some people live on this Earth as if they have another planet set up somewhere in the universe that they plan to move to once this one gets too filled with litter. Some people live on this Earth carrying on their lives believing that plants and animals are theirs for the taking. And some people live on this Earth believing it is their mission in life to live in harmony with all living creatures and to leave the planet a little bit better than it was when they got here.
We hope that if you’re reading this blog post you identify with the last grouping, and aim to live each day like it’s Earth Day and treat all creatures around you with due respect and care. More than ever this mindset is necessary to protect the planet from the many destructive practices humans have developed over the years. So what is the best way to see this happen for generations to come? Teach our children, of course!
1. Clean Up After Yourself
Not only is the concept applicable for toy rooms and bedrooms, but it works for the Earth too. See you thought teaching green to kids would be hard? You’re already doing it! Just extend this idea to cleaning up your environment. Teach children to be conscious about what they pour down the sink (no chemicals allowed), how to recycle properly, and the importance of composting.
2. Cradle to Cradle
Thinking about the future has become a norm for children as they grow up. When I was growing up, it seemed like every stage of life was completed with eyes on the “future:” get good marks so you can go to a good university and then one day get a great job, and on and on.
The idea behind cradle to cradle is not too far away from this mindset, it’s just translated into thinking about the future of the inanimate objects that surround us. When I’m done with this shirt, what will happen to it? Where will this plastic cup go after I throw it away?
Cradle to cradle is all about learning to reduce your impact on the planet by recognising how everything you buy or own contributes to your footprint. We don’t live in a disposable world, so your belongings should not be disposable either!
3. Be Compassionate Towards all Living Things
“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” While this doesn’t need to take a religious twist, it gets to the heart of being able to recognise the intrinsic worth of all things. Current culture teaches us to assign worth based on rand value, but there are many, many things in this world that are more important than profit.
Teaching children to value everything from their favourite pet to the little spider crawling on the floor is a wonderful way to foster a perspective that can see a larger picture and appreciate how everything has worth and deserves ample respect and care. Children are highly emotional little people, so if you teach them to love all things, they will love away!
4. Dirt Doesn’t Hurt
Telling kids not to get dirty is so last season;-) Teaching children about planting and growing is not only fun, but it teaches them the essentials of environmental conservation. Quite simply, you give what you get when it comes to growing plants of any kind. As a kid, I loved planting my spring garden- I even remember thinking plants had to stay warm so I wrapped wire around their stems that in my mind would conduct the suns warm rays better, needless to say I strangled them to death- but making ‘fruit’ salad for my poor little brother out of carrots and spinach was a real treat- for me at least!
By showing children where food actually comes from instils a sense of appreciation for the Earth. Once you dig in the soil, plant a seed, and taste the incredible flavour of a home-grown tomato, you understand the power of soil and how important it is to protect it.
5. Nature Does Not Belong to You
We already teach children the importance of sharing, but mostly only enforce this idea when it comes to sharing toys or other material things. If we taught children that they share the Earth with every living thing on it, then conservation becomes a no-brainer.
When brushing your teeth, remember to turn off the water because you share that with animals, plants, and other people! Just because you like that flower doesn’t mean you can own it. Learning to respect natural resources and appreciate their importance, not only to yourself but to every other creature, is a lesson that can be extended all through life. The Earth is ours to share, so we want to leave it in good shape for the next users.