Most parents are concerned about their child’s health and wellbeing. Healthy and sustainable eating significantly contributes to optimal childhood development, and teaching kids about green eating can ensure a lifetime adoption of healthy behaviors.
Children have different global perspectives than adults. It would be best if you catered sustainability lessons to their developmental stage.
The Sustainability Talk
Environmental sustainability is about preventing the depletion of natural resources. You can help children understand the concept by applying it to an everyday activity, such as describing the practice in terms of flowers in a field. You can pick them all and make bouquets for your friends and family, but there would be nothing left for the bees to pollinate or the butterflies to rest on. Instead, you can pick one flower or a few and replace the damage by planting seeds.
Planting a home garden can help children understand the life cycle of fruits and vegetables. It also allows them to understand the source of their food and encourages them to eat more healthfully. When eating homegrown foods, discuss the importance of healthy consumption.
Unprocessed foods have more nutrients and less sugar, fat and sodium. Healthy eating helps children develop strong bones and muscles, allowing them to engage in physical activities. Processed foods are also harder to digest, causing more frequent bellyaches.
Fortunately, teaching your children about healthy and sustainable eating can increase their exposure to a safe and balanced diet. Unlike adults, kids may have a smaller perception of the world, making it challenging to understand sourcing, transportation and exploitation. You can use kid-friendly methods to help them learn about green consumption habits.
Be A Food Package Detective
An activity that helps kids understand sustainability is package detective play. You can gather some packaged foods at the store or from your cupboard. Have the children sort the items into an eco-friendly and unsustainable pile.
Different labels signify sustainability measures. The organic, Animal Welfare Approved, Non-GMO Project, Soil Association and Rainforest Alliance certified products are environmentally conscious. They reduce water and land exploitation and limit harmful preservatives.
You may also teach children about the impact of the packaging itself. Single-use plastics can end up in landfills or the ocean, causing ecological degradation. Help your kids identify the recycling symbol on packages and teach them to dispose of items in the blue bin properly.
Grow From Home
You can bring sustainability lessons to your backyard by installing a chicken coop. Homegrown eggs are healthy and eco-friendly. They contain 13% of one’s necessary daily protein intake. Eggs also contain various vitamins, including B5, 12 and 2.
Creating a monoculture garden can additionally teach little ones about plant growth and development. Monocropping places compatible fruits and vegetables in alignment, optimizing each plant’s growth cycle. Home gardens display the importance of a functioning ecosystem.
Measure The Footprint
Another fun sustainability activity is footprint measuring. Tracing the life cycle of a cookie can display the amount of water and energy it takes to grow, manufacture and distribute the product. The footprint of some natural foods may surprise you.
Avocados are delicious fruits high in healthy fats and vitamin C. Unfortunately, they are unsustainable because of their large water footprint. An avocado tree consumes over 46 gallons of water a day in the summer.
Similarly, some of our favorite meals contain large carbon footprints. Beef is a notorious greenhouse gas polluter, contributing to rising global temperatures. A single hamburger emits over 14.8 pounds of methane.
You and your child can explore the entire life cycle of an item on their dinner plate. Discover the size of its water and carbon footprint. If the food is unsustainable, you can brainstorm ways to reduce its water or energy use.
Communication Is Key
The more you talk to your children about healthy and sustainable eating, the greater understanding they will gain. Engage in two-sided conversations, answering any questions your child may have. Learning complex global ideologies is difficult for everyone, so be patient with your kids and have compassion for the process.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.