How to Teach Your Children About Sustainability: Tips for Parents

By The Shannon Household

As a parent, it’s important to teach our children about sustainability and the environment. However, it can be challenging to explain these complex concepts to young children. By involving them in a net zero sustainable lifestyle, we can instill eco-friendly habits that will stick with them for a lifetime. Here are six actionable ideas to get you started.

Start with the basics

Teach your children about the importance of turning off lights, unplugging electronics, and conserving water. These simple actions can make a big difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Of course this is best demonstrated by example but making it into a game makes the whole thing more fun. Explain to them how these actions help protect the environment and even use your own utility bill savings towards a fun goal for the whole family!


Composting is a great way to reduce waste in landfills and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. In our community we are lucky to have a wonderful green bin system that allows us to have our food and yard waste collected with our weekly recyclables. But if a green bin is not available to you, and a composter is not a viable option – look into the lomi which is a kitchen composter that turns food & waste into nutrient-rich compost in under 24 hours. Involve your children in the process by having them help collect food scraps and yard waste. Teach them what can and cannot be composted. This is a great way to show them how waste can be turned into something useful.

Plant a garden

Planting a garden is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while also teaching your children about where food comes from. This not only limits your trips to the store, but I can tell you first hand that produce from your own backyard is so deliciously fresh.
I’ve attatched the Canada Hardiness zone map for you so that you can look into even what kind of fruit trees that you can plant in your area! Much to many people’s surprise, even in our area where winter temperatures can dip to -40 we can still grow varieties of Apples, Pears and Plums.
Involve your kids in the process by letting them help choose what to plant, dig the holes, and water the plants. As they watch their garden grow, they will become more connected to the earth and the environment.

Use eco-friendly products

Choose eco-friendly products whenever possible, such as biodegradable cleaning products and reusable cloth napkins or reusable food storage bags . Involve your children by having them help choose these products at the store. Teach them about the environmental benefits of these products and make it a fun game to see how many eco-friendly products you can use in your home.

Walk, bike, or take public transportation

As our family is demonstrating during the Week 1 Commuting Challenge; Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking, or taking public transportation whenever possible. Involve your children by taking them on walks or bike rides around the neighborhood. Teach them how to use public transportation and make it a fun adventure. 

Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Teach your children about the importance of the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Encourage them to use reusable water bottles and bags instead of disposable ones. Show them how to recycle properly and let them help sort items into the correct bins. This will help them understand the importance of waste reduction and resource conservation.

pictured sculptures by artist David Johnson of Athens, Ontario.

Teaching your children about sustainability doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. By involving them in simple activities like the 3 R’s, gardening or composting, and using sustainable transportation, you can help them understand the importance of living a net zero sustainable lifestyle.

Written by The Shannon Household

Read more of their stories as they vie with the other seven households to reduce their carbon footprint.

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