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Raising Eco-Friendly Kids: Green Parenting Guide

As parents, it’s our unrelenting responsibility to raise good humans. A huge statement and a massive feat that we choose to embark upon, but nonetheless, rewarding beyond measure. From making sure they take care of themselves, be kind to others, and do well in school to giving them jewels of knowledge and wisdom that they’ll take with them into adulthood and, hopefully, pass on to the next generation. 

To us, being a good human has a lot to do with living an eco-conscious life. At Product of the North, we are all about supporting sustainability from the ground up. As an eco-friendly family ourselves, we believe in passing on the ideals of loving our planet to our children and the world. 

Whether you’ve always been a firm believer in going green or are hoping to learn alongside your child, our eco-friendly tips for raising sustainability-focused children will help your entire family become more eco-conscious in everyday tasks, allowing you to take ownership of your own footprints on the planet Earth.

Here are some of our favorite and effective ways to go green as a family today. 

Multi colored garbage bins lined up against a wall

1. Teach Your Kids to Recycle & Compost 

Recycling is a tried and true method to reduce your footprint on the planet. Don’t shy away from getting your kids involved in recycling efforts from an early age. Teach them about the importance of recycling, including why we recycle, what impact it has on your particular area and on the planet as a whole. Talk about different items that can and cannot be recycled and how they play a role in your household. 

Some of the best ways to get your kids to understand the importance of recycling and composting include:

  • Sharing books with your child that emphasize the importance of recycling.
  • Having them actively play a role in your household recycling process. 
  • Set up a recycling station in your home that they’re in charge of.
  • Collect litter and recyclables from the park.
  • Include them in your weekly recycling station runs or have them watch and talk to the recycling collector on your route. 
  • Show them how foods and other household items go through the composting process.
  • Teach them about the role of composting and its impact on the environment.
  • Encourage them to share new ideas on how to continue to reduce your footprint as a family.

Empowered kids make a world of difference, even when they’re involved in small tasks throughout the day, like recycling or composting.  Little boy drinking water from a glass with a toothbrush in his hand

2. Teach Your Kids to Conserve Water 

As a world, there is a water crisis. With a lack of clean and safe drinking water throughout the globe, millions of people are living with access to, what should be, a fundamental human right.  While here in the United States, we have access to clean, fresh water, the rest of the world cannot say the same.  In developing countries, over 80% of reported illnesses are linked to poor sanitation and water conditions. Teaching our children to save water wherever possible can help them be more conscious of their impact on the world. 

Although water is one of the main resources on Earth, its availability isn’t infinite. While water covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface, only 3% of it is fresh water. According to the California Bureau of Reclamation, of the 3%, only 0.5% is available as fresh water, as 2.5% is locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, the atmosphere, or found in soil; classified as highly polluted; or lies too far under the surface of the Earth to be extracted at an affordable cost. We must work together and teach future generations that conserving water will save the planet. 

There are numerous ways to teach your child about the importance of conserving water, including:

  • Showing them the importance of turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth.
  • Stressing the importance of fixing any leaky faucets or shower heads quickly.
  • Reading them books about water conservation efforts.
  • Tightly turn faucet handles to ensure no drips after use.
  • Opting for a shower over a bath to use less water. 
  • Showering less frequently.
  • Not disposing of unused water; instead, using it for another purpose such as watering plants or refilling a pet’s drinking bowl. 

Little boy watering a garden with large watering can

3. Plant a Garden With You Kids

The phrase “you reap what you sow” holds especially true when it comes to taking care of the planet and growing a garden all of your own. Planting and cultivating plants, fruits, and vegetables provide an opportunity to spend time with your kids outdoors while also teaching them the vital life lesson of putting in work and patiently waiting for the rewards. Gardening is often thought of as a therapeutic activity for adults and children alike. Whether you live in the country with a lot of acreage under your belt or in a high-rise in the center of the city, gardening is still possible.  

Plant your favorite in-season fruits and vegetables in your backyard, on a balcony space, or in a neighborhood-run garden co-op. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labor once they’re tended and ripe, together as a family. Talk about the importance of cultivating your food and helping reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to grow locally instead of buying from big-box grocery stores. Any change in your lifestyle, including how you source the food on your table, can positively impact the planet.  Natural cleaning products and lemons lined up on a counter

4. Make Homemade Cleaning Products 

Homemade cleaning products are a safer and less impactful option for both your family and the planet. Store-bought cleaning products pose various potential hazards and negative environmental impacts from both a chemical composition and material usage and sourcing standpoint. Teaching kids about the importance of reading product labels and understanding the harmful effects of chemicals is important for their personal development. Pre-teens and young adults should understand precisely what they are using and its impact on the world.

Homemade cleaning products are not only safer for children and the world but, in most cases, cheaper to make, too. Utilizing various household items that you may already have on hand, homemade cleaning products include only what you add to them, leaving no mystery or misunderstanding. Often, homemade products work just as well as store-bought products without the harmful chemicals or harsh aromas. 

The next time you go to reach for a cleaning product, consider making these homemade versions instead. Recycled art work of paper elephants using recycled toilet paper rolls

5. DIY Projects With Recycled Materials 

There may be no better way to let your child’s creativity show than by stimulating their minds with a little DIY craft project. From paper leaves in the fall to toilet paper bird feeders in the spring, there are endless options when it comes to transforming your recycled materials into creative masterpieces. 

A  great way to help boost their creativity, resourcefulness, and self-sufficiency while also making them more conscious of their consumption, DIY projects are a perfect boredom buster and family-time activity any time of year.  Here are some of our favorite (and easy!) recycling art projects to try. Mother with Product of the North Navy Elkin Diaper Bag backpack attached to the stroller she is pushing

6. Support Sustainable Brands 

One of the easiest and best ways to start your eco-conscious journey is to shop sustainably. Using sustainable brands as a benchmark way to teach your children about the availability of eco-friendly items is the fastest way to solidify the importance of taking care of the planet in every way possible. 

This may feel like a shameless plug, but in all honesty, eco-conscious brands, like Product of the North, often provide more than just products and awareness. They are social do-gooders who believe action is the best way to care for the planet. From participating in programs like 1% for the  Planet to working with local organizations to clean up area parks, sustainable brands are often the gold standard for teaching everyone about living more sustainably. 

The next time you need to make a purchase, big or small, consider supporting a sustainable brand. Talk through the purchase, and its impact on the environment, with your children. A little explanation on why you’re deciding to choose one brand over another can go a long way. 

If you’re expecting, or a new parent, start by setting the sustainability standard now for your family. Consider opting for sustainably sourced and curated everyday baby essentials, such as, our Elkin Diaper Bag Backpack, that not only fits your lifestyle but also supports the world around us. Choosing eco-friendly items over mass-manufactured alternatives keeps your baby safer while saving the planet.  Small child in the forest with parents watching in the background

7. Get Outdoors & Instill a Love of Nature 

A love of nature comes from active involvement in nature from a young age. No matter how you do it, raising eco-friendly kids has one goal in mind: to create a deep connection, love, and respect for the land all around us. The best way to do that? Get outdoors and explore the beauty of nature in its truest form. 

Plant the seed early on and let their love of nature flourish as they grow. Allowing your children to see for themselves how the environment is negatively affected by waste or climate change will have a powerful impact and can act as a motivator towards future action.

Some of our favorite ways to instill a love of nature include hiking, mountain biking, and visiting local farms and natural and historic sites and landmarks.  Small child turning off light switch

8. Be Energy Aware at Home 

Energy consumption is a huge pitfall in the global climate change crisis. Impacting the environment substantially, energy usage is one of the biggest challenges we face as a human race. Teaching your children the importance of energy efficiency and its impact can help them recognize and utilize ways to help lower energy consumption. Leading by example is vitally important when it comes to energy usage. 

Some of the most important ways to reduce energy consumption include:

  • Unplugging electronics when not in use
  • Installing a low-flow shower head
  • Composting
  • Less car usage and more biking and walking
  • Using cloth napkins
  • Nixing plastic straw usage

Explore some of our other Eco-Friendly Home Tips here. 

Energy efficiency is at the helm of being an eco-conscious global citizen. Therefore, instilling the value and understanding of this ideal is essential at an early age. 

Children working together at a food drive

9. Volunteer Together 

Time is the most valuable resource you can give someone. A great way to get involved in your community is to volunteer with your children to support an eco-friendly cause. Spend a Saturday picking up trash in a park or a weeknight delivering the fruits (and vegetables) of your garden labor to a local food bank. There are many ways to volunteer your time as a family.

Often, direct action leads to long-term commitment and connection. Show them the importance of showing up for a cause and start getting involved in your community to keep the planet healthy and beautiful.   Mother and daughter sitting on a bed talking

10. Let Them Ask Questions 

Kids are curious by nature. As they grow, they want to learn more about their surroundings and life in general, and, often, the best way to learn more is to ask questions. 

Asking questions helps your children understand not just how but why they should make environmentally conscious decisions. Guide them to develop an understanding on their own. This will boost their confidence in living more sustainably and allow them to see the complete picture of why living with an eco-conscious mindset is so important.  Three children carrying a green recycle bin together

Key Takeaways on Raising Eco-Friendly Kids 

As parents, there are various ways to raise eco-friendly kids, from taking action at home by recycling and composting to volunteering to pick up trash at a local park. All action we take to help the planet is better than no action at all. 

Each little step you take forward, as a family, is one step closer to achieving a more green tomorrow. We encourage you to love the environment as much as we do, and the first step is doing your part to show Her how much you care through your actions.

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