Buttercup Learning
October 15, 2022

How To Inspire Learners To Act Sustainably 

There is no doubt that climate change is real. Everyone has experienced its effects and foreshadows that it will just worsen over time. We must act urgently to reduce the effects of global warming. Sustainability has to be everyone's concern.…

There is no doubt that climate change is real. Everyone has experienced its effects and foreshadows that it will just worsen over time. We must act urgently to reduce the effects of global warming. Sustainability has to be everyone’s concern.

It is never too early to educate children about sustainability and cultivate sustainable practices. As they are expected to live and grow in this world, we should aim to inspire and equip them with the tools to live life sustainably. 

Sustainability may be an overwhelming topic, but you would be surprised at how quickly your young learners pick up on this important subject. Here are a few ways to inspire young learners to live sustainable lives.

Leading by example 

The best way to begin teaching children about sustainability is by becoming an example.

Children are naturally curious and will ask many questions as well, which is a perfect way to introduce them to the concept of sustainability. If you’re unsure how to talk about the state of the environment and our role in changing it, this family’s guide to beginning the climate conversation is a great resource. 

Leading by example does not have to be such a grand gesture. It can be simple things around the house like turning off the lights when they’re not in use, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth or washing the dishes to save water, and unplugging devices and appliances to conserve energy. You can also shop for groceries and choose food without excess packaging.

What’s important at this stage is explaining why you do the things you do. Explain how this sustainability practice positively impacts the environment. You will find that the explanation is what sticks and helps reinforce sustainable habits. 

Teaching through play 

Keeping things fun with play is always a great way to catch and keep your kids’ attention. You can teach them facts about recycling, composting, gardening, and other eco-friendly concepts by adapting them into games. 

Want to pick up rubbish together? You can make it more fun by having them sort it by colour or by size. Having a litter collection bag with you whenever you go out means you can play this game any time you leave the house.

Not only are you encouraging them to see the world around them, but you’re also building a habit that they’ll hopefully carry with them into adulthood.

Show real-world applications 

Demonstrating sustainability in real-world situations is crucial to instilling its importance. Inspire your learners by showing them how their sustainability efforts make a real difference. 

You can take them to a natural history museum and to nature reserves. You can also go out into your garden or take a short walk around your local park. Time outdoors is beneficial to your learner’s mental health. You can also demonstrate the importance of a healthy and thriving natural world. 

Encourage their curiosity, let them ask questions, and be prepared to answer them

“Sustainability” may be a new word to your kids, but it may be a concept they already have some sort of grasp on. They may already know that it’s good to keep natural areas clean and free of rubbish, but they may not know just how important it is. They may hear about reducing the use of single-waste plastic but not understand why it matters so much.

Don’t just default to simple answers when answering your learners’ questions. “Plastic is bad” shouldn’t be where the discussion ends. Explain why plastic is bad and support it with facts like how plastic may end up in the ocean and ultimately harm marine life. 

Encourage them to ask more questions, and if you don’t have the answer to their question, join them in researching the answer. This type of open discourse is what helps make sustainability a more open practice and motivates kids to opt for living an eco-friendly life.

Make it fun with challenges 

Framing sustainability practices as challenges can be another fun way for children to learn eco-friendly habits.

You can challenge them with how quickly they can sort out the recycling, or you can conserve water by taking shorter showers. While still practising good hygiene, challenge the kids to take five-minute showers. Set up a timer for them to see how quickly they can wash up. Taking it one step further, they can collect the shower water and reuse it for gardening. This can be rewarding for little kids, seeing how much water they can save and use for something else. 

Incorporate different modes of learning

You don’t have to be the only teacher when inspiring your learners about sustainability. You can read books as well as watch videos and documentaries together. Be sure to fact-check your sources beforehand to avoid misleading or blatant misinformation. 

You can watch BBC Earth, National Geographic, or the Discovery Channel together. You can also play online games on National Geographic and NASA Climate Kids, which have plenty of fun activities and interactive games. 

You can also join community programs for children through your local library or other organizations. 

Have a project

A project can help children focus their time and energy and can give them a sense of motivation and reward. 

Their sustainability project can be anything that piques their interest. They can grow a tree or have a vegetable garden. If your learners are interested in the kitchen, they can create a “sustainable recipe book” that includes recipes for in-season produce and plant-based foods. And every week, they can decide on what recipe to try out. 

By participating in these projects, they will discover their interests while incorporating sustainable practices.

Why Teach Kids About Sustainability? 

Our children are Earth’s future. Soon enough, they will be adults, making big and small decisions that impact our world.

Sustainability is more than just doing less harm to the environment; it is creating and supporting a better world where people, economies, and the environment are balanced. The earlier you can establish a child’s understanding of sustainability, the more likely they will be able to carry it with them as adults and as professionals in their field. 

Whether they grow up to be future leaders who spearhead sustainability for businesses, world leaders, homemakers, and environmental scientists, or whether they find their happiness in the arts, their advocacy for sustainability remains. Through their advocacy for sustainability, they will ensure that the future will be more sustainable and balanced.

Thanks to our guest blog writer Kat Sarmiento.

We hope this article was helpful and that you’re now better equipped to nurture children who live sustainably. If you have any feedback or suggestions for us, we would love to hear from you over on our Instagram.

The Buttercup Team

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