Climate change and its impact on our natural environment have been making headlines for quite sometime now. The need to protect our planet from the adverse effects of climate change is more than ever. After all, to live a healthy life just food, water, and shelter aren’t enough. We also need a good environment to thrive — physically and mentally.
Thus, I feel it's important to instil in children the habit of being environmentally conscious. Parents should foster a sense of responsibility in children regarding their impact on the environment and advocate sustainable practices such as avoiding the use of plastic, conserving energy, and being aware of the environment in general.
The first step toward making children environmentally conscious could be to take them to places that will help them connect with and be one with nature. Go on treks, camping, and rock climbing if the child is of suitable age for the activity, and explore the outdoors to make them aware of the environment’s beauty. You can also encourage children to watch educational programmes focused on nature and the environment. So, instead of scrolling on the phone, the children are learning something in a fun manner. These can also be a great family-bonding exercise, where everyone is off their devices.
Let them play in the garden, let them get their hands dirty in the mud, and let them discover the varied offerings of nature; the different trees, plants, bugs and butterflies. Let them bask in nature and be one with it. These activities foster a deep connection with nature. Our nature has so many fascinating experiences to offer, we just need to be open to experiencing them.
There are practical ways to engage children in environmental awareness, like involving them in grocery shopping and discussing the environmental implications of purchasing choices. For example, buying fruits, vegetables, etc, that aren’t wrapped in plastic. In our home, we have stopped using plastic completely. Everybody in my house follows the ‘no to plastic’ rule. If you have the space, you can grow plants, vegetables, herbs, and more so that children can learn to care for them. When they grow older, they can participate in adding their own touch. This will instil interest in them from a young age. And it will not only educate children about sustainable practices but also involve them in environmentally friendly activities.
Just as energy conservation is important, saving water is essential as well. Parents should put timers for their children’s bathroom time like toothbrushing and bathing so that they don’t waste water. I keep telling my child to not waste water and switch off lights when she leaves the room. Do not leave their devices plugged in for charging overnight.Training the child from an early age about environmental conservation can help them share their knowledge with peers and make it a collective effort. I have said this in my previous columns as well – children learn from their parents or adults around them. Thus, parents need to practice what they want their children to follow.
(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)