Are you an eco family?
This year has been an eye-opening one for many of us when it comes to the environment, as the increasing impact of climate change has become clearer than ever before. In fact, the State of Climate report for 2021 says that extreme weather events, which are partly the result of human-induced climate change, are now the norm.
While this may sound worrying, the good news is that it has spurred many of us into action. In fact, 85% of consumers in the United Kingdom have already made at least one lifestyle change to be more sustainable since 2020 (Deloitte).
Leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle is important for all of us especially for the family, but making sustainable changes can be particularly impactful if done by families. This is because having a child can cause your household emissions to rise by anywhere between 210 and 5,000-plus tonnes of CO2 (The Times). By raising your little ones in a more sustainable way and teaching them the importance of being eco-friendly, you can reduce the environmental impact of your household. To give you some inspiration for prioritising sustainability in 2022, here are four ways to raise an eco-friendly family and make a difference to the environment.
Spend time in nature
As parents, one of the best ways to encourage the kids to make more sustainable choices and become an eco family is by showing them just how beautiful the great outdoors is. Research from the University of Exeter has found that people who regularly visit natural spaces are more likely to mak1e more environmentally friendly choices, such as recycling and making eco-friendly purchases, than those who don’t.
As well as encouraging your child to be more eco-conscious, getting into nature has also been proven to inspire them and both reduce stress and increase attention spans, so it’s definitely worth getting outside more in 2022 (Scholastic). If you have younger children, a great way to introduce them to camping/nature is by organising a scavenger hunt to make the most of nature. And for teens and tweens, and toddlers make it fun by doing an activity like zip-lining, or playing a small game for the whole family to enjoy.
Grow your own food with the family
Growing your own fruit and vegetables with the family is a great way to reduce your household carbon footprint, as you won’t need to rely on products that have travelled hundreds of miles and are sold in non-recyclable packaging. And once your kids have helped look after and prepare homegrown food, they’ll see just how rewarding the experience can be, which will likely encourage them to keep it up when they grow up and potentially help them understand business.
Make it a team effort by encouraging the whole household to get involved with the maintenance of the homegrown grub, and give everyone a say in the types of fruits and vegetables you grow. If you’re a first-time grower and none of you have a green thumb just yet, start off by growing low-maintenance produce, such as potatoes, spring onions, blackberries, and raspberries.
Encourage eco-friendly household habits for the family
To both reduce the environmental impact of your own household and help your children lead more sustainable lives in the future, it’s important to instil eco-friendly habits from a young age. This will make these sustainable practices the norm, and will likely mean they’re passed down through the generations. A few easy environmentally conscious habits to encourage your children to do include:
● Reducing food waste by keeping an eye on use-by dates and finding ways to use up produce that’s past its best.
● Being conscious with water use by timing shower usage, not letting the tap run when it’s not needed, and using cooking water to water plants.
● Finding energy-saving ways to keep the house warm in the winter months, such as by layering up and using draft excludes warming each room.
● Reducing single-use plastic by opting for shampoo and soap bars, or getting refillable versions instead of buying new bottles every week, these small changes are perfect for improving the day to day and becoming more eco friendly at home.
Lead by example as adults
The best way to get your children to respect and explore your viewpoint and listen to what you have to say is if you practice what you preach. If you fail to act sustainably yourself, you will show your children that the values you’ve instilled in them aren’t important enough for you to follow, so they will likely not see the point of keeping it up when they venture out on their own.
So, make sure to lead the sustainable life that you want your children to have in the future. Lead by example and always try to opt for the more environmentally conscious choice, such as travelling by bike instead of by car, or by eating in-season produce to reduce the carbon footprint of your diet.
James Partridge is part of eco-friendly retailer Greenshop.