How to Raise Eco-Conscious Kids

13 parenting tips from environmental leaders.

Trying to live eco-friendly and green in today’s environment isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It’s hard enough trying to explain a compost bin to your toddler, let alone why recycling and conservation is important. But getting kids involved early and sharing the importance of living green is not only critical to shape the next generation, but it can help you stick to eco-friendly practices. Repetition and starting early will pay off big time in the long run.

In celebration of Earth Day, we asked some enviornmental leaders who are also parents how they teach their kids about living green. Here’s 13 of their best parenting tips for you to try with your own little ones at home.

1. Talk about simple, tactical stuff. We began talking with them about sustainability from the moment they could talk and listen. We talked about why recycling makes sense, why daddy is in the ORGANIC yogurt business (supporting family farmers, healthy animals, people and planet), why we separate and compost our food waste, why we never use chemicals in our gardens and why we try to only buy organic foods and shop at the co-op. — Stonyfield Organics CEO Gary Hirshberg, who has 3 now grown children

2. Give them the bigger picture. I try to discuss the bigger picture with them and let them know that we all have the power to make choices for a more sustainable future. Boob Design’s Founder Mia Seipel, who has 2 daughters (ages 11 and 13)

3. Volunteer! We used to volunteer to clean up areas of our county when the kids were young. They went to an amazing summer camp at a place called Slide Ranch that taught us all a lot about sustainability. — True Botanicals’ Founder and President Hillary Peterson

4. Normalize it. Every adult has likely experienced first hand a time in their lives where everything went into the garbage. Making more sustainable decisions takes more effort, and that in itself is a challenge for our generation. The good news is by making changes now, our kids will think it’s normal to recycle everything. Parkland mfg’s Business Development Manager Sean Miller, who has one 4-year-old daughter

5. Stick to your principals. No kid likes to be different and especially girls really want to fit in with the crowd so she used to complain that her parents were “Organic freaks”. But the fun thing is that now that all the kids are in their 20’s, their peers (especially the girls) all choose Organic and think it, and we, are really cool. Stick to your principles and it will all work out in the Long run! — Stonyfield Organics’ Gary Hirshberg

6. Get outside. Take walks in the forest. Go swimming and fishing. We have a house in the countryside on a family farm where it is very obvious that what goes around comes around. — Boob Design’s Mia Seipel

7. Let them help. Sundays are when we clean up and prep for the week ahead. Goldie loves to help with sorting the recycling and compost. — Parkland’s Sean Miller

8. Pick your battles. When the kids were little, they wanted to do whatever their friends were doing and they thought that some of my concerns about things like plastic, synthetic fragrance and using a safe deodorant were extreme. When they were teenagers, they thought that I was so “paranoid.” I had to learn to pick my battles and trust that eventually they would come around which they did…100 percent. — True Botanicals’ Hillary Peterson

9. Take the time to explain the “why” behind your everyday choices. You can’t take for granted that your thinking always makes sense and the conversations are always rich and interesting. — Stonyfield Organics’ Gary Hirshberg

10. Read to them. When they were young, we loved the LORAX…because it made complete sense to all of us and got them thinking about the big picture in a really easy-to-digest way. — Stonyfield Organics’ CEO Gary Hirshberg

11. Support eco-friendly brands. I never go anywhere without one of my Swell water bottles. They keep hot beverages hot, and cold beverages cold. And as shallow as it sounds, I love how they look. I happily refuse plastic water bottles on my many flights and a great bonus is that you don’t need to wait for a flight attendant to offer hydration. — True Botanicals’ Hillary Peterson

12. Walk the walk. I have tried to eliminate BPA and BPS — some of the worst ingredients polluting our bodies and planet — from our home. That means no more canned beans…I soak and cook our own which is actually so easy. And I buy tomato sauce in reusable glass jars. We have a water filter in the kitchen and no one is allowed to buy plastic water bottles. To store leftovers, I am a huge fan of Ball jars, available at most hardware stores. — True Botanicals’ Hillary Peterson

13. Listen to them. I think that I have learned as much from my kids along the way as they have learned from me. — True Botanicals’ Hillary Peterson

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy is Well Rounded's editorial intern. She's an English/Creative Writing major at Hunter College who loves everything to do with movies, music, comics, space and anything geeky/nerdy. If she's not reading a science fiction or fantasy book, she's trying to write one.

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