connect your kids to sustainability: 10 ideas

There are many ways to connect kids to sustainability, since sustainability has so many dimensions. Here are a few favorites based on our post “what’s important for sustainability“:

  1. Spend time outside and “know your place”: become eco-literate, for example, study for the “Big Here” quiz which tests your knowledge of your local place and its ecology (both human and natural).
  2. Go to museums–science museums, natural history museums, and children’s museums are great, but understanding cultural heritage is important for sustainbility as well.
  3. Visit aquariums and farms.
  4. Set up a weather station and learn about weather and climate.
  5. Make: Play with crafts, electronics (see my post on 8 tech learning games and projects) and simple programming. If you’re wondering how “making” connects to sustainability, you might be interested in this post, which describes how making helps people develop a capacity to solve their own problems.
  6. Reuse and recycle stuff, after you reduce the amount of stuff you use: consider joining the sharing economy as chronicled in the online magazine Shareable.
  7. Point out connections and cycles: where things come from and where they go. Have a look at The Story of Stuff, a movie showing where stuff comes from and where it goes.
  8. Garden and compost
  9. Volunteer: give back to the public realm, maybe through restoring natural habitat (tree planting) or sharing your family’s time with others
  10. Spend time away from the screen: for example, reading books!

Resilience and Sustainability at Kids Future Press

No matter what you call it—sustainability or resilience, even thrivability—there are a few key elements that always arise. It’s not just about ecology and natural systems, although those are the foundations. Here’s the skeletal framework for how we think about it…

  • ecology: ecoliteracy (understanding how nature works) and protecting, restoring and coexisting with the natural systems around us
  • energy: carbon neutrality, people powered transport, renewable energy, energy conservation
  • material efficiency: reduction, recycling, reuse, local sourcing
  • the public realm: public or community places, public transport
  • food systems: organic agriculture, urban agriculture
  • diversity: gender, race and other social markers
  • equity: improved income equality, fair trade, equal opportunity
  • distributed systems that are diverse and adaptable: for water and energy infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, services
  • health and happiness: spiritual, physical, and mental. Sometimes tied to a person’s sense of capability (having, doing, being, interacting) and fulfillment of human needs for subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creativity, identity, and freedom
  • cultural systems and heritage: collaborative consumption, social capital, sharing economy, places of distinction, localism, the slow movement, and more