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How to empower your kids to make a difference on climate change

by Powershop on

How to empower your kids to make a difference on climate change
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This article originally appeared in November 2020 on The Guardian Labs

The future of the planet depends on making positive climate choices now. Inspiring the next generation into action is more important than ever.

Our kids notice more than we might expect. Every day, they hear about the world around them and the race to save the planet from irreversible damage.

What we teach them now will affect the planet they inherit. Here are some practical, kid-friendly tips for getting them on board with everyday climate action.

Help them understand how we use energy

Kids love to ask questions. How big is the universe? Can butterflies cry? Make the most of their natural curiosity by getting them involved in the science behind your climate-friendly choices around the home.

What happens when we flick on a light switch or use the dishwasher? Explain that every time we turn something on, we use energy to power it. Show them the difference between sleep mode and turning an appliance off at the wall.

Where does that power come from? Bring in some dinosaur facts: the coal used in fossil fuels was formed way back when giant reptiles roamed the earth. We don’t have time to make more. What happens when we burn it to release the energy inside? And what about when it runs out?

The internet is packed with engaging ways to link what we do at home with the impact we have on other creatures and their environments. There are tips from National Geographicsimple suggestions from the American Museum of Natural History, and organisations exclusively for concerned kids.

Powershop’s Pond Party - an interactive book that connects to your smart meter - is fun and hands-on. With this app, kids create an exciting party for Goldie the Green and Golden Bell Frog while learning how to be more energy efficient at home.

Head outdoors to see the abundance of natural resources Australia offers. Let them feel the wind in their hair and the warm sun on their face. What if that amazing energy could become part of the mix that brings electricity to our homes?

Help kids understand how energy works, and why you have made the decision to be greener.

Graphic showing the Pond Party game
Powershop's Pond Party

Get the kids involved in making your home more energy efficient

We can all act more sustainably in our houses. Why not make the kids part of the choices you make?

  • Go on a mission together to find draughts and cracks.
  • Check taps and showers for drips and splashes.
  • Replace old halogen light globes.
  • Sort and label recyclables.
  • Pack reusable, plastic-free lunches together.
  • Draw colourful reminders to stick around the house.
  • Take the kids with you to choose energy-efficient appliances.
  • Making climate action practical and entertaining will keep them interested longer, while creating an energy-friendly space for the whole family.

Lead by example

Kids learn by mimicking the adults around them. The best way we can teach them to be greener is by doing it ourselves.

Make your own good choices. Conserve energy in ways they can see, such as opting for a warmer jumper instead of turning on the heater, or skipping the dryer to hang washing outside. Take reusable bags to the supermarket and show them how to buy only what you need.

You might even dive a little deeper. Take public transport with them and explain how it can be a greener choice. Show them your greener energy bill, so they can see how much carbon has been offset. Ask for their help in planting flowers that attract bees, or trees that will provide shade for years to come.

Demonstrating to them how simple it is will encourage them to take these lessons into the future.

Reward them for making great choices

Just as you might for household chores, set up a rewards chart for being climate friendly. Teach kids they can help the environment every day, in simple ways. One point each for:

  • Turning off the lights when they leave the room.
  • Keeping doors closed to reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Shutting down their devices when they’re not in use.
  • Taking shorter showers to conserve water.
  • Making sure the dishwasher and washing machine are full before turning them on.
  • Choosing power-free activities such as reading or board games.
  • Closing the fridge properly!
  • As a bonus, you’ll save money, too.

Listen to what your kids have to say

The next generation is already engaging with climate action: Greta Thunberg was only 15 when she started the school climate strike movement. In some countries, schools are incorporating climate science into their classrooms, while in others, students are campaigning for reform.

Helping our kids understand energy use around the home is only one step. Make climate action a two-way chat. Ask about what they’re learning at school or what they have heard from friends, through videos or on the news. Talk about what it might mean for them, their concerns and ideas. Keep the conversation going and reinforce the importance of the choices we’re all making right now.

Written by The Guardian Labs in Partnership with Powershop

Learn more about Powershop's Pond Party

More ways to be climate concious

Read our Top 8 areas to save energy in your home blog

Read our Kick wastage to the kerb blog

Read our What can we do to go plastic free? blog

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