Ideally, it’s up to the younger generation to make sure that the earth’s future is a promising one. That said, it’s important to teach children about sustainability as soon as possible. If your child is now in his or her teen years, it’s still not too late. There are tons of fun, age appropriate green activities to help your child become a more eco-conscious person. For my personal top five, continue reading below.
1. Cook an Organic Feast
One of the easiest ways for your teen to learn about organic foods and sustainable dining is to simply cook or prepare a meal using organic and environmentally-friendly products, such as free-range beef and chicken and organic vegetables and dairy products. While eco-products can be found in the local grocery store, to make it more of an overall “experience” your teen can go and pick out fresh produce from the local farmer’s market. The meal can then be consumed at home or packaged for a “green picnic”—make sure your teen refrains from using disposable dishware and is adamant about cleaning all of his or her trash. If there is surrounding trash left by others, your teen can move one step further and pick up/recycle their trash as well. Your teen will simultaneously learn about conservation as well as healthy, green eating.
2. Plant a Garden
Planting a garden—no matter if it’s an herb or vegetable garden— is one of the more enjoyable hands-on green activities for most teens. If you don’t have access to a backyard, an indoor garden can suffice. Help your teen pick out some seasonal seeds (if planting a garden go for perennials like kale and arugula since they’ll “re-seed” themselves) and plant a garden using homemade compost. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows consumers how to make homemade compost using two different methods. If a garden seems like it might be too much work, planting trees at a local park (or even in your front or back yard) can be an alternative. Either way, your teen’s efforts will help bring more oxygen into the air and help remove toxins and other pollutants.
3. Participate in Restoration Project
If there is a particular body of water that seems to collect trash, such as a beach, lake, creek, or even bayou, encourage your teen to take the initiative and help beautify it once again. These projects are typically on the larger scale and work better with a medium-sized group of people, so try to see if your child’s friends or other people in the community are interested in participating. Not only will your teen help save the planet, but it’s also something he or she can put on a college application or resume. To make it more of a “formal” project, your teen can become a certified apprentice ecologist through the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative— an organization that awards scholarships to teens who make the most powerful impact.
4. Host a Yard Sale—or a Clothing Swap
Eating hormone -free meats and growing pesticide-free vegetables aren’t the only ways to help protect the earth, your teen’s wardrobe can play a big part too. Most factories use harsh chemicals to produce clothes. While purchasing clothes made of only organic cottons, “peace” silk, or non-mulesed wool for example is a great way to reduce the environmental footprint clothes can have on Mother Earth, these types of clothes can get expensive. Instead, your teen can start on a smaller scale by hosting a yard sale so that others can use your teen’s recycled clothes—the money earned can then be donated to an organization that specializes in conservation and sustainability (or applied to a college fund). If your teen is looking for some new threads, he or she can also participate in a “clothes swap” with other teens in the neighborhood—everyone gets some new items, don’t have to use money, and are reducing their carbon footprint.
5. Go on Various Field Trips
Knowledge is power. That said, it’s important that your teen understands how things work so he or she can really give-back and help sustain the environment. Otherwise, your teen will just be going through the motions. A good way to see how thing operate and affect the planet is to encourage your teen to take an afternoon to explore a landfill, take a tour at an organic or dairy farm, or even observe a green hotel or nursery. Wherever your teen decides to visit, make sure they use an eco-transportation method, such as the bus or carpool with some friends.
These are just a few activities that can help your teen do his or her part to save the planet. Do you have any more?
By-line: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.