Your little one can make a big difference for the planet

Written by: Fiona Royer

How your kids can go green

With 250 million tons of American waste going into landfill annually and 1.3 billion tons of food wasted worldwide each year, it’s important we teach our children the importance of being green. But how do you start a dialogue? Kids love to solve problems and take positive action, so how about engaging your little superhero’s special powers? Who could resist zooming to the rescue to save the planet?

Knowledge: educate
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Helping your little heroes understand the "why" of being green is a good place to begin. There are plenty of books to explain sustainability, and the library is a great place to start. The internet is of course also a fantastic resource with a grown-up’s guidance. 

Wisdom: recycle
In the city of Chicago, our little champions see green garbage trucks on their way to school all the time. Make a game out of finding waste that can be diverted from the landfill and into the truck. Teach them about the recycling symbol so that they can sort garbage for the household. Creating charts to collate their results can help them see the impact of their actions.

Creativity: re-use
Even better than recycling something is re-using it. Children love creative projects, so how about turning a yogurt pot into a sparkly crayon holder, or taking a cereal box and repurposing it as a colorful caddy to store artwork? Utilizing stainless steel water bottles rather than purchasing endless plastic ones is another easy way to show them how to fulfill this goal.

Teamwork: community projects
Working together to save the planet appeals to children’s community spirit. Picking up litter is compelling to youngsters, so try carrying a garbage bag when you’re out and about for impromptu clean-ups. Encourage them to enlist friends in their quest to save the planet by suggesting school initiatives—for example, collecting old sneakers.

Generosity: donate
Superheroes are always generous. Donating to toy drives is a great way to go green, especially when it involves diverting all those plastic play things from going into a landfill. Taking clothing to thrift stores helps to prolong their lifecycle while supporting worthy causes at the same time.

Power: take action
Conserving power is a big part of saving the planet. Talk to your amazing kids about the concept of energy so they have an understanding of what they’re trying to preserve. Turning lights off is a simple but visually impactful way they can participate. Opting to walk rather than drive, when possible, also allows them to make positive choices that save energy.

Energy: food
Help little advocates understand that decisions around food can also impact the planet. Buying local saves all that wasted energy of transporting product. Visiting the Green City Market and selecting regional produce that’s in season can be a fun activity when they write their own shopping lists. Similarly, have them create a meatless menu for another positive activity they can share in.

Commitment: gardening
Children really love to grow things. Composting allows them to indulge their love of all things gooey and gross. Then using this material to grow their own vegetables gives them the chance to participate in a longer-term project, while developing scientific learning and patience, to boot.

Even little superheroes can have a big impact on the planet.

Fiona Royer lives in Lincoln Park with her husband, Randall, and their three young children. Originally from the U.K. with a business and creative background, she now works in the Chicago philanthropic community. She believes that giving is the key to a fulfilling life. 

Related articles:

How kids can help protect our environment

Enlist the kids in sorting and donating unwanted stuff

A British expat on teaching kids manners

The NPN blog gives voice to our members' thoughts about parenting in the city, and the views expressed don't necessarily reflect our own. Want to write for us? Email with your topic ideas.


Posted on March 21, 2019 at 3:25 PM