Learning By Doing: How to Teach Kids Respect for the Environment

kid in tree

Chances are you are environmentally responsible to one degree or another. You recycle your trash, purchase energy efficient light bulbs, and buy natural cleaning supplies, all with the goal of leaving the world a better place for our children. But one way to make a big impact that you might have overlooked is by encouraging your children to lead eco-friendly lives. By leading the next generation to understand and care about the environment as much as you do, you can help your children grow up into environmentally conscious adults. Get the kids involved in living an eco-friendly lifestyle by starting with these ideas.

Be a Role Model

We are our children’s role models, so make sure you walk the walk. Explain to them what means to live an eco friendly lifestyle. In addition, follow through with actions such as turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, shutting off lights after leaving the room, and air drying your clothes. If the children see you doing it, too, that will help reinforce what you are trying to teach them. If they want to know why you’re doing this explain it to them and encourage them to ask questions. The more they learn, the higher chance they will follow your example.

Remember the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce: Teach your children about how to reduce by using reusable shopping bags when you’re out shopping or using old socks, towels, etc., instead of paper towel when cleaning up messes. Children have wonderful imaginations, so you might be pleasantly surprised at the creative solutions they come up with!

Reuse: When you are doing your regular purging of the clutter in your home, include the kids in your purge. Let the kids go through their toys/clothes and create a pile of the items they no longer use or have outgrown. Explain to them that you will be giving these items away so other boys and girls will be able to use them and enjoy them as much as you did.

Recycle: Recycling is one of the most concrete examples of helping the environment. To help your children understand how recycling works, take an old cardboard box (for paper, cardboard, glass) and a plastic bucket for organic materials and explain to the children what will go into what box. You can even make this a family art project and encourage them to decorate the boxes with photos of nature, animals, and pictures of what will go into each container.

Embrace Nature

If you have the space available, then make a vegetable garden. Visit the local home improvement center or nursery and see what plants and seeds are available. Take the children with you and have each of them select a vegetable they would to grow. Explain to them how plants grow: water, sunlight, and photosynthesis. You’ll be amazed at their faces when the vegetables are ripe and ready to be picked.

Kids love adventure too, so take a Saturday or Sunday and visit a local park or wooded area. See if there are any outdoor activities available like a nature walk the family can participate in. If not, then when you’re outside explain to the children names of the trees, plants and animals and how each of them are connected. This will help the children understand the importance how their actions affect the environment.


See what environmental groups are in your local area and volunteer as a family to help them out with their cause. Many of these groups do community outreach so encourage the children to participate – it will have the benefit of them learning more about the world and the environment, while also being a great chance for them to meet new friends and build important skills.

This is just a few ideas to get you thinking about educating your children about eco living. The world will benefit from the work you’re doing, and you’ll have the satisfaction of passing along your knowledge to your kids.

Jeremy is passionate about educating people to live eco friendly lives, and is glad he is able to write about this topic on behalf of PartSelect. They care about the environment by providing homeowners with the skills and knowledge they need to give their appliances an extended life and not end up in the trash. Find out how we’re helping by visiting our PartSelect reviews page on Facebook.

Image credit: Growing a Green Family via photo pin cc

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