How to Inspire Children to Protect Nature? Spend Time with It!

It’s impossible to avoid talks of climate change and other environmental concerns these days. The statistics surrounding our planet’s sustainability are quite staggering. The earth is running out of resources, species are dying, the oceans are being heavily polluted, and the effects of climate change could be irreversible by 2030 if changes aren’t made. That would lead to tragedies like the destruction of the world’s coral reefs, extreme heat around the globe, and widespread flooding. 

While there are sustainable choices and changes we all should be making right now, it’s up to the next generation to act on the importance of protecting nature. One of the best ways for them to do that is to spend more time exploring our wonderful planet and all it has to offer. 

It’s also important to inform kids and teens of some environmental dangers currently threatening the world. For example, according to NASA, the serious effects of climate change may be reversed, but it will take a great effort on a global scale. That starts with the next generation and how you can lead them to a more sustainable lifestyle. 

The Dangerous Reality of Environmental Issues

It’s important not to sugarcoat the reality of environmental issues to children and teenagers. In fact, some of the most powerful voices behind sustainable efforts are already coming from the next generation. For example, Greta Thunberg is only 17 years old and was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019. Thunberg is a climate change activist from Sweden, and her age and passion have inspired young people all over the globe to show more interest in the environment. 

In what many children’s book publishers are calling “The Greta Thunberg Effect,” children’s books about climate change and the natural world have seen sales double over the last year. 

Children are showing an increased interest in the world around them, which would explain why those books are becoming so popular. So don’t be afraid to share some of the staggering statistics with your kids or let them experience some of the effects of climate change first-hand. For example, the glaciers of New Zealand are some of the most beautiful natural wonders on the planet. Unfortunately, due to climate change, they may not be around much longer. By taking your children on an educational trip to see some of the world’s natural beauty and by informing them how climate change might destroy everything, you’re more likely to motivate them into taking action for the future. 

Which Businesses and Brands Are Inspiring the Next Generation to Live Sustainably? 

Even though President Trump allowed the U.S. to pull away from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017, many industries and individual businesses are still on board with maintaining sustainable efforts and donating to environmental causes, including many companies throughout the outdoor industry

Businesses can give back to the planet in various ways, from donating to environmental charities to encouraging employees to volunteer for things like trash cleanups, recycling events, and more. On a small scale, businesses can reduce their environmental footprint by implementing things like: 

  • Going paperless
  • Starting a recycling program
  • Reusing products
  • Installing filtered water dispensing systems instead of buying plastic water bottles
  • Allowing employees to work from home

The concept of capitalism can be a scary thing when it comes to sustainability. When companies are more focused on quarterly returns than the state of the planet, it’s the future that could suffer. 

Some of the world’s biggest proponents of a more sustainable future are the most successful businesses. Google, for example, has an entire sustainability mission that focuses on improving its services in an environmentally friendly way while educating the public about sustainable living practices. 

The more children and teenagers see their favorite businesses taking steps toward sustainability, the more inspired they can become to join those efforts and even consider a career that depends on an outdoor lifestyle

What Can Kids/Teens Do to Make a Difference? 

Inspiring your child to make a difference starts with spending more time in nature and allowing them to appreciate everything the planet has to offer. Your children might think they’re too small or too young to make a difference, but that’s not true. A more sustainable future starts at home, and kids of almost any age can help by recycling, turning off the lights at home, and learning how to conserve water. You can also inspire your children to help the community in other ways, for example, by participating in an emergency food program. It helps others while shaping their character.

As your children get older and become teenagers, they can increase those efforts by carpooling to school or riding their bikes. They can also shop with sustainable clothing brands instead of falling victim to “fast fashion,” where cheaply made clothes are more likely to be thrown out. The United States contributes about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills across the country each year, mostly due to clothing that’s thrown out. 

Children and teenagers won’t have the inspiration or motivation to change their habits and live more sustainably if they aren’t aware that natural beauty could quickly fade. So, don’t be afraid to tell your kids the reality about environmental issues and how protecting nature is essential for them to have the future they deserve.

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Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and wilderness enthusiast. When she's not writing, she can usually be found zipping around the mountains on her ATV.

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