My love of learning about the environment started when I was in elementary school. I had great teachers, awesome enviro-shows and phenomenal opportunities. I loved science-based shows like Bill Nye, Daily Planet and The Magic School Bus. I even had wonderful opportunities in school: Orienteering through the Red Hill Valley, painting Anti-Pollution/Anti-Littering murals in hallway walls, and joined hiking or eco-friends groups during recess or lunch hour. But from talking to my younger siblings. these opportunities seem few and far between nowadays, with more school trips being more about having fun and less educational.
Because kids are information sponges, it is crucial to teach them valuable environmental lessons, facts, myths, ways to conserve energy and promote good eco-decisions from a young age. They may surprise you and have their own ideas or project desires – and you should encourage them! Here are some great ways that the information can be passed on to kids, or just your friends or family:
Environmental Magazines: Books are obvious, but magazines also provide endless opportunities for learning! They are usually very topic oriented and can be found for any age group. Magazines are more fun, and with short articles, colourful photography, and fun facts, they are perfect for long car rides or keeping kids occupied. National Geographic for Kids is a great example.
At Home Projects: Engaging kids in projects such as collecting pop tabs for recycling or participating in recycling and let them see that they can make a difference and feel rewarded by it. For older kids (such as my university colleagues), you can collect beer bottles after house parties down your street and return them to the store: money for recycling = sweet deal!
Elementary Schools: Encourage your child’s school/student council to have more environmental clubs or lunchtime interest groups. Many environmentally oriented field trips or activity days are reasonably cheap and easy to coordinate. Ideas include: Orienteering, Scavenger hunts, tours of recycling plants or garbage disposal sites, hiking nearby trails, or visiting the planetarium. Most teachers don’t mind receiving new ideas/suggestions for awesome trips or projects!
Documentaries: They are not as boring as they used to be. I promise. Recent documentaries are highly entertaining and possess awesome footage and animation. One excellent example is, “The Story of Stuff” (www.storyofstuff.com) as well as any of the “Nova” or “PBS” series documentaries. Look them up!
Trivia Night!: Fun, educational and still allows for hanging out/bonding. Great for kids or parties, especially if it is competitive and you award small prizes or baked goods to the winner. Questions can be anything from statistics, to identifying pictures or issues, can Topics can include anything from basic questions to statistics to pictures identification of issues or places. BONUS: Make it a themed party! Dress in recycled outfits, use no Styrofoam or serve only foods in eco-friendly packaging. Kids will get really into it.
Fun facts: Tons of eco-friendly jokes or tidbits of knowledge available online that can be used to spark interesting conversation or simply impress your friends or kids. For example: Did you know that Glass can be recycled virtually forever? It never wears out!
Dear parents: it truly starts with you. Spread the knowledge and teach future generations how to save the planet.