Once when I was a child I saw an evening news story about a drought. I started thinking about what would happen if we had no access to water, and made myself so scared that for a few days it pushed out all other thoughts, and I could barely eat or sleep.
Even now, the problems with our environment seem paralyzingly big and scary in their implications for the future of our children. We face many challenges on the road to a more just, equitable, and sustainable world, but none looms larger than reversing the damage caused by climate change.
So nothing seems more important than helping our children become stewards of the earth - but how to do this without scaring them?
In order to have them love nature, we have to get them out in nature, often. But we can also begin to talk with them, in an age appropriate way, about the choices we make on behalf of sustainability.
You can start with food. Talk with your child about the food choices you make, and how those choices make a difference for the planet. Keep the conversation positive and action-oriented.
While you prepare meals or snacks, say something like:
See the sticker on this apple? It says “organic.” We can’t always buy organic food because it costs a lot of money, but we buy it whenever we can. When farmers grow organic food, they help keep the earth clean.
This juice box (or apple sauce pouch or squeezable yogurt) is really not a good idea. It’s hard to recycle, so it ends up in the trash, and when lots and lots of kids just like you throw away their juice boxes, it makes a big, huge pile of trash. From now on, let’s buy juice in a bottle and drink it from a cup.
Wow, look at all the plastic that this snack is wrapped in! Next time, let’s look for snacks that don’t make so much trash.
Keep it simple, but start now to relay your values around food and the environment.