How to ‘teach green’: 4 ways you can help your kids to think sustainably

Teaching kids to be energy-efficient is achievable.

“It’s all about being a role model,” says Conor Tapp, the executive director of Green Calgary, a non-profit that teaches sustainability on a local level.

Tapp suggests starting by modelling the behaviour you’d like to see in them. Bike or walk, instead of taking the car for short trips. Recycle. Compost. And find other ways to create a greener life at home and in your community. “Show them that you are passionate about conservation, the environment and sustainability, and they’ll pick up on that,” he says.

Here are four of his ideas for teaching kids to think sustainably:

1. Start simple.

As soon as your kids are old enough to turn off a light switch, you can teach them to turn off the lights when they leave the room to save energy. Tapp has made this practice part of his daily routine with his own children. “When we leave the house, they help by checking to make sure that all lights and fans are turned off,” he says.

2. Get your kids involved with household chores, and talk about why you do them a certain way.

Wash your clothes on cold, for instance. Hang clothes to dry. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full. Use your dishwasher’s no-heat cycle.

And don’t forget the fridge. “The eternal struggle, which I still have not been able to overcome with my kids — encouraging them to think about what they want before opening the fridge door,” Tapp says.

3. Read age-appropriate books that address environmental concerns.

Stories are a powerful tool, especially for kids at an impressionable age. Getting kids to feel an emotional connection to the environment will pay off down the road when they’re forming their own values.

Tapp suggests the Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax as a great place to start.

4. Look for fun ‘green’ days and activities.

The month of March is National Youth Science Festival Month, and Earth Day and Earth Week take place in April. Then there is Calgary’s Mayor’s Environmental Expo, and Green Calgary’s Energy Revolution Fair, which take place every summer.

Edmonton hosts the Sustainival, a carnival powered entirely by renewable energy. All offer inspiration for kids and adults alike.

“And young people are ready to take action about things they care about,” Tapp says.

For more green tips visit Encor by EPCOR.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Encor by EPCOR.

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