As the threats of climate change become more apparent, the need for action does too. Parents, as well as community leaders, organizers, and teachers, share the responsibility for teaching children about the importance of climate action and the steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint. An effective practice for this is to become an encouraging role model for your children to look up to. By showing children ways to be eco-friendly, you can create habits for them to follow.
Grow Your Own Food
If given the space on your property, starting a garden can be a fun activity to do with your children. Teaching children how to grow their own fruits and vegetables provides them with a sustainable way of eating. By growing your own food, your family can rely less on imported resources and reduce the amount of “food miles” (the distance food is transported from production to consumer) it takes to get to your kitchen table.
When you are shopping at a grocery store, you may be buying food that has been imported from far away, burning fossil fuels as a direct result. A garden can reduce the number of fossil fuels being burned for your food and get your family outside, reducing your household’s carbon footprint one crop at a time.
Buy Secondhand Clothing
From the materials being used to the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills, the fashion industry and our clothing consumption has a major impact on the environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, people in the United States throw out more than 34 billion pounds of used textiles each year. While decomposing, these clothes emit harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and Methane gas (CH4) into the atmosphere.
Because of this, we have to be mindful of how we buy and wear clothing. One of the ways this can be done is by buying your family’s clothing from second hand stores. When you buy second hand, you are reducing the number of new clothes being bought, which leads to less production. Taking your children to a second hand store or vintage market can be a fun activity for your children as well. Oftentimes, second hand stores and markets offer a diverse selection that is both affordable and fashionable for the whole family. Keep an eye out for vintage or thrift stores in your area! Many teenagers love to “go thrifting” for unique fashion purchases.
Buying second hand doesn’t just have to be for clothing, either. With resources like Craigslist, Postmark, Facebook Marketplace, and secondhand stores, you can also shop for used toys, furniture, and appliances.
The consumption of meat, particularly from factory farming, is one of the main drivers of climate change. In 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations estimated that livestock made up more than 14% of human caused greenhouse gas emissions. From its excessive use of resources to the production of pollution, factory farming has a massive impact on our environment.
The point of Meatless Mondays is just what it sounds like: do not eat meat on Mondays. By integrating this into your family’s diet, you can lessen your reliance on factory farming and bring healthy and sustainable alternatives to your kitchen table. Though we do suggest you incorporate meatless options throughout the week, Meatless Mondays is a great place to start.
Visit a Local Event on Climate Action
One of the best ways to motivate your children to take climate action is to join a group in your community that addresses climate change. Bringing your family to a local community meeting, lecture, or rally, will get your children involved with environmental justice on a local level. If you’re unsure where to attend these events, check out your local MassEnergize community for upcoming events.
Having Conversations About Climate Change
While all of these tips will help you educate your children, as well as your students or community members, having a conversation with them is key. Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist for the Nature Conservancy, says that simply talking about climate change is the first and most important thing you can do. Finding a space where you can openly discuss climate change and the actions we can take to fight it, will encourage them to take steps on their own. While the subject matter may be dire, providing them with the resources to take action can give them the motivation they need to live a sustainable life inside and outside of the house.