5 ways to teach kids about sustainable living

Dr Vikas Nand Kumar Batheja
Filed on October 16, 2020 | Last updated on October 18, 2020 at 09.40 am

Young people must cultivate a healthy sense of understanding and know the role they can play in bringing about a difference to the system

Students are the future of tomorrow. As clichéd and corny as it sounds, that is the reality.

As educators, we have this opportunity to not just introduce standard regulations to schools and universities, but to bring about real-time changes by inspiring students by making them aware of the situation. However, it is often misconstrued that we must bring in immediate action as a solution towards the problem. I believe that students must cultivate a healthy sense of understanding and, most importantly, know the role they can play in bringing about a difference to the system. This is a win in itself.

Here are five ways how we - as educators, parents and responsible adults - can incorporate sustainability in student lives and activities:

1. Involve them in sustainable activities
Parents of a neighbourhood could form a small community where they can organise a fundraiser where youngsters can create items, price, sell and collect money that will go to an NGO. This could be ideal for even young adults who have a budding interest in design, as they could create sustainable fashion-wear that can be trendy and purchasable while giving importance to sustainability. Another way could be to encourage children to become pen pals with kids at a local hospital or an orphanage where they can pen down their experience or even an autobiography! As parents and educators, you could send sustainable-friendly goodies to these children as a friendly gesture. This could be ideal when you want to include children in charitable causes.

2. Choose sustainable fashion
Most conventional forms of clothing use a lot of chemicals and toxic dyes that can cause irritation and rash, especially to children's skin. Hence, it is advisable to pick environmentally-friendly fashion resources like organic cotton that are hypoallergenic, sustainable and allow the skin to breathe. With the fashion industry regarded as the world's second most polluting industry and with over 90 million items dumped in landfills annually, it makes it all the more important to shed some light on sustainable fashion. A fun way to incorporate sustainability is hosting a small gathering with children where they can swap and exchange clothes. This way, parents do not have to purchase clothes time and again, as it will be a waste of money considering they would eventually grow out of it. This could instead be a way of updating kids' wardrobes sustainably.

3. Indulge in home gardening
A great way to include your children in exercises where you can impart knowledge on sustainability is by setting up a compact garden space where kids can help parents in garden activities. From transferring plants to bigger pots to watering and caring for growing plants, children will be able to learn a lot and maybe even develop an interest in gardening over time. You can also involve young adults in the designing aspect of a home garden and this could be a small way to contribute to a greener environment.

4. Remember: reusable beats disposable
Reduce-Reuse-Recycle - as retro as it may sound, it's as important as ever. Every product purchased has an environmental footprint that may have a high or low polluting factor. For starters, encourage children to read labels and look for alternative products that have minimal packaging and shipping. Placing a recycling station at home can be an effective way of making children aware of materials that are sustainable and can be recycled into other products. Parents can also replace cloth napkins with paper ones in their child's lunch bag and use glass bottles instead of plastic.

5. Opt for sustainable travel
Another way of supporting sustainability is by choosing smart yet environment-friendly travel. Some ways to do so is by spending more time outdoors, encouraging children to ride bikes, and choosing eco-friendly modes of transportation. While travelling, support the local businesses by purchasing their products and enjoy farm-fresh veggies rather than supermarket material. Impart wisdom on cultural sites and their relevance, along with respecting wildlife while travelling.

(Dr Vikas Nand Kumar Batheja is Co-Founder & Director, Capital College)




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