How to raise environmentally aware kids — start by making your own changes

Kids pick up garbage during International Coastal Cleanup Day at Virginia Key Beach Park.
Kids pick up garbage during International Coastal Cleanup Day at Virginia Key Beach Park. Miami Herald file photo, 2017

Climate change is in the news, as are the young crusaders protesting for increased environmental awareness. If you aren’t helping or teaching your child to “go green,” now’s the time, though don’t be surprised if your kids know more than you do. The topic of sustainability starts, in many cases, in preschool. Here’s some ways to emphasize its importance:

Recycle. No doubt you have a recycle bin for newspapers and glass/plastic as most communities now mandate it. Involve your kids in the process by having them help sort (and rinse) items, then place them in the correct bins.

Compost. The apple core and egg shells you just had for breakfast and/or lunch are not trash. Instead, save them for a compost bin and talk about how composting adds to soil for a future veggie or flower garden. Your kids will be astonished at what can be done with kitchen waste.

Conserve water. Many parts of the world don’t have clean drinking water. Discuss with your kids the valuable resource of water and enforce the importance of conserving it, everything from shorter showers to turning off the faucet while brushing teeth.

Flip the switch. Turn off lights when you leave a room, power down computers, and shut off the TV when no one’s watching. Small changes can make a big difference in conserving energy.

Hoof it. Encourage kids to ride a bike or walk to school (as long as it’s safe and they are old enough for the responsibility) or use public transportation. If a car is a “must,” try carpooling to conserve energy.

Shop at thrift stores/clothing apps. Look for secondhand treasures. You can often find books, clothing and toys that are practically new at a fraction of the original cost. With a veritable mall of online apps for used clothes and shoes, you can also score amazing products in the online world.

Set an example. Use cloth instead of paper, glass containers rather than plastic, lunch boxes instead of paper bags. Your kids will follow your example.

Lend a hand. Many communities sponsor green activities you can do as a family like cleaning a local park, playground or beach.

Children’s Trust Senior Program Manager Bevone Ritchie, M.S. in guidance and counseling, oversees a wide range of parenting programs across the county. For more information, visit thechildrenstrust.org.