Children in the U.S. spend an average of four to seven minutes outdoors, yet invest around 7.5 hours of their day on electronics. Time outdoors promotes better physical health and mental wellbeing, yet it is also a vital component of an eco-friendly lifestyle. Nature author, Richard Louv, hit the nail on the head when he said that children can be encouraged to love their planet more not through lecturing, but rather, by encouraging them to experience the magic of nature to the full. Once children are as fascinated by the great outdoors as you are, you can get them interested in the many details that make daily life more sustainable.
Getting Older Teens Outside
Teens aged 16 and above may be so interested in technology and online gaming that heading outside on a weekend may seem more like a chore than a pleasure. One way parents can bridge the gap between nature and technology is to unite the two. If you’re stuck on ideas for presents for your 16-year-old, why not find something they will need to use outside? Think an RC truck, a digital camera, or a drone. These gadgets are a good reason to head to a green area like a park or forest. Studies show that even just a few minutes in a green setting can significantly reduce stress and lift the mood, meaning that your child will reap many benefits on their next day out with their devices. While they are out, they will have many opportunities to simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature and enter into a mindful state.
Making It Easy
Teens can feel like they have the world upon their shoulders as they struggle to meet various conflicting demands – including school, sports, and social activities. Parents can boost their interest in lowering their carbon footprint in simple ways that they can follow every day. These include recycling plastics, glass and other items in separate trash cans, using cloth bags instead of plastic for shopping and to carry items to school, and taking glass bottles of water to school instead of plastic ones.
Older teens usually accompany their parents on shopping trips, and this is a great opportunity to open their eyes to the important decision they make every time they buy a new item. Every setting is an opportunity for on-the-spot learning. For instance, when shopping for clothes, parents can share information about eco-friendly materials and the importance of relying on ethical companies that offer fair working conditions to employees. When at the supermarket, parents can remind teens to choose items which are sustainably packaged and to avoid items wrapped or packaged in plastic. When looking for arts and crafts supplies, teens can also learn about the difference between paint supplies containing toxins and those which are made with eco-friendly components. They can additionally be encouraged to take the time to shop for recycled paper, paint brushes made with eco-friendly materials like bamboo, Hala and corn, and easels made of bamboo (instead of pressed wood).
When it comes to older teens, one of the best ways to get them more interested in the sustainable lifestyle is to ensure they have positive experiences in nature. This can be achieved through camping, trekking, canyoning and other activities, but you can kickstart their relationship with nature by encouraging them to bring their gadgets outside. Additional steps to take include making sustainability an achievable part of daily life, and encouraging teens to shop more mindfully.