Parent socialization is a known field of child development psychology, with the type of household a child grows up in playing a large role in their behavioural development and their outlook in later life. As parents, we’re all driven to shape our children’s future, as well as leaving behind a safe, clean world for them to inhabit. Taking steps towards eco-friendly living – from eating locally, to saving energy, to reusing resources – can teach our children to respect and care for our environment while simultaneously working towards a sustainable world for them to live in. A more eco-friendly lifestyle can also have a positive impact on your bank balance, teaching your family the value of money at the same time.
Reducing consumption allows a family to have a real impact on the environment. Reducing purchases is a great way to start: limiting your weekly food shop to cover only what you need during the week is a great way to save money and cut down on waste at the same time. Avoid repeat purchases on items like napkins and bottled water by investing in washable serviettes and reusable water bottles. You can make many of your own cleaning products with a little research, saving money, reducing consumption and minimizing the chemicals used in your home at the same time.
Our desire for ‘new’ things can be satisfied without constantly having to buy new products. Using local thrift stores and borrowing from friends or libraries allows you access to new books, toys and clothing without contributing to overproduction. Garage sales and jumble sales make great family outings, and you can often pick up exciting new toys and gadgets at very low prices. A sale of your own is also a great way to encourage your children to clear out the things they no longer use, and donating unwanted clothes and toys to charities can teach them valuable lessons about sharing resources with those less fortunate. Avoid plastic shopping bags when you’re out and about, and encourage your kids to take a reusable bag to those jumble sales.
Make sure you know what materials are recyclable in your area, and teach your children to recycle whatever they can. Recycling doesn’t have to mean putting it in the recycling bin: is there a craft activity you could do with that cereal box? Buy recycled products where you can, and encourage the kids to use both sides of the paper before they discard their artwork. If you have a garden, composting will be great for your produce, cutting down on your household waste at the same time. If you don’t, perhaps a friend or neighbor does.
There are small changes we can make in our everyday lives that have a huge impact on our children’s future. With a little work at the beginning, all these things can become habit, so ingrained in our routines that we don’t even have to think about them.