It is around this time of year that many families start to think about their next vacation. While you should ensure that your trip is fun and full of memories, you can also make it a learning experience, and there is nothing better than teaching your kids about the environment and sustainability.
If you currently live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, then sharing your experiences with your kids is a good idea because we will count on their generation to continue the efforts to make the planet a better place. Let’s talk about teaching sustainability during your next trip.
Show Them the Beauty of the Outdoors
To show your children the importance of sustainability, bring them on a trip where they can spend time outdoors and see and experience the beautiful rewards of their efforts. A great activity in this regard is camping.
There are plenty of fun activities that you can do while camping, from hiking and rock climbing to fishing at the local lake. While you are enjoying these activities, point out different plant and tree species. This is your chance to educate your children about how things grow while also explaining that all of these gorgeous species get the chance to grow because of your sustainability efforts.
You can continue to teach them valuable lessons every step of the way. For instance, instead of buying brand new camping gear, borrow it from friends. By opting to reuse instead of buying new stuff, you reduce the need for manufacturing plants to pump pollution into the air as they build these products. Plus, you will also save money and eliminate waste, especially if you only plan to go camping once or twice per year. You can also carpool with friends to reduce the excess carbon emissions created when taking two vehicles.
Get Everyone Involved
Whether you prefer to go camping or visit an international destination, you can continue to teach sustainability as you decide on your vacation spot. Have a family meeting, take suggestions from everyone and make a shortlist of potential places you would all like to go. Then, you can do research together online about the sustainability efforts of that destination. Do they have a good track record as far as their protection of natural areas? What is their human rights record? You can also research questions that are important to your specific family.
If that seems like a daunting task, then you can also look online for some of the more notable sustainable vacation destinations. For example, Costa Rica is known for its ambitions to save the rainforest and its continued commitment to recycle and build from eco-friendly resources. Singapore is another great place as they pledge to raise their recycling rate to 70% by the year 2030, and they even have sustainable water parks. These are exotic locales, and you can have fun while knowing that you are helping the planet in the process.
In addition to getting the kids involved, parents should also lead by example when it comes to practicing sustainability during the trip. Make it a habit to always use a reusable water bottle during hot days, bring reusable grocery bags to the store, and if an attraction is close enough to the hotel, then suggest walking or riding bikes instead of driving. Kids love to learn from their parents and they will copy your sustainable habits and keep them as they grow into adulthood.
Pack and Buy Responsibly
You can also teach your kids a great deal about sustainability by being conscious about what you bring and buy during your trip. Just about everything, from toothpaste to sunscreen, has a natural or environmentally-friendly version that you can choose, and once you get home, you can continue to use the products until they are gone. When your kids see how well these products work, they will continue to buy them into adulthood.
When we go on a trip to a new place, we tend to want to eat out and try all the local cuisine, but there can be a dark side to dining, especially when ordering food to your hotel. The problem with food delivery is that many companies pack their food in styrofoam containers, which take years to decompose and the companies deliver those containers in cars that emit greenhouse gasses.
While you cannot eliminate these emissions single-handedly, your family can do its part by eating at restaurants that get their food from local sources, which cuts down on the need for large trucks to drive hundreds of miles. You can also check that the eatery uses sustainable packaging on its to-go packages. Better yet, teach your kids about the importance of not ordering more than you can eat so you eliminate the need for the doggy bag altogether.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can teach your children valuable lessons about sustainability as you take your family vacation. Continue to lead by example, and you will raise very environmentally-conscious children.