How to Teach Children to Be Eco-Conscious

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child in red riding bike next to ocean cliff with title text reading How to Teach Children to Be Eco-Conscious

If you’ve spent much time around Organized 31, you know that repurposing and finding earth-friendly solutions to organizing challenges is my jam. I want to responsibly care for the earth and I love the creative challenge of finding ways to live a more earth-friendly life. It’s important to me to pass this same earth-friendly focus on to my children. These six simple ideas on how to teach children to be eco-conscious are things any family can do today.

It’s pretty basic, when you think about it. You teach your kids to be kind to one another, mindful of their blessings and gentle with themselves. You project love and protection. Therefore, you should also teach your kids respect for and care of the environment.

How to Teach Children to Be Eco-Conscious

Here’s some teachable moments you can use to help kids of all ages learn to be eco-conscious.

Preserve Water

Early childhood theorists point to repetition and modeling when identifying effective learning strategies of the very young. As a parent, an emphasis on cleanliness and self-care is one of the first things you focus on. Be consistent about turning the faucet off while you wash your hands and back on to rinse. Do the same with tooth brushing. Explain at an age-appropriate level why you are doing this. Remind your kids to do the same and encourage their successful practice.

Encourage older children to pour leftover drinking water and ice cubes into plants or the garden. Here’s a tough lesson for older kids – teach them to limit shower time.

Consider making a terrarium with school-aged kids as a hands-on way to talk about the water cycle. List things that disrupt the cycle and brainstorm strategies for avoiding those scenarios.

Play Outside

Place an emphasis on the outside in your family. Make it easy for the kids to go outside and play.

  • Have outdoor toys and sporting equipment easily accessbile
  • Designate safe areas for them to ride, dig and run around.
  • Encourage fresh-air play by joining in and inviting friends to do the same.

Plan family vacations which explore nature in all its forms, such as hiking, camping or heading to the beach. When weather prevents outdoor trips,  focus on eco-conscious outings like trips to the aquarium together.

Reduce Car Travel

Make it a point to use alternate forms of transportation when feasible, perhaps walking or riding bikes to a friend’s house or into town. Emphasize the importance of saving fuel, both for financial reasons and environmental ones.

Explain the importance of conserving fuel at an age-appropriate level. Look for books and movies to help explain the concepts.

info graphic about how oil is formed

Younger kids can understand how disruptive digging for oil is to the earth and older children can easily identify with the idea of fossil fuel as a finite resource. Ask the kids to help you think of ways to carpool to events or combine trips when you can’t avoid car travel.


Sorting objects and carting them around is the theme of many classic childhood toys. Use your kids’ inherent desire for order and movement to involve them in your home’s recycling routine.

Encourage the kids to rinse containers and place them in the appropriate receptacles. Allow them to help you bring recyclables to the curb or local center. Plan a special eco-conscious family activity of the kids’ choosing using with a portion of the money you receive from depositing bottles and cans.

Donate and Repurpose

You know how quickly your kids grow. Regularly go through clothing and shoes together to tag outgrown items for donation. Share outgrown items with friends and enjoy friends’ outgrown clothing in your family. 

Do your kids have T-shirts or jersey with sentimental value that are now too small? Cut them into large squares and create a memory blanket. This is a wonderful keepsake to send with your child when they head off to college or out on their own.  Check out the simple projects I’ve made from repurposed clothing:

Look for other household items to repurpose, like milk crates, pallets, old tackle boxes or tin cans. There’s no limit to creative uses for everyday objects when viewed from the perspective of repurposing. You know how much I love repurposing almost anything, so check out my repurposed projects

Plant a Garden

Nothing demonstrates the fragile balance of environmental factors like tending a home  garden. It can be a small container garden on the windowsill or an in-ground plot. Choose native flowers that are hardy in your area or opt for vegetable and fruits your kids will enjoy eating.

In addition to age-appropriate hands-on eco-conscious values, you’re also teaching the kids to nurture and be respectful as well as accountable — excellent traits to pass along! How do you teach children to be eco-conscious?

31 Eco-Friendly Living Tips that Are Easy

For all of my best parenting tips and ideas, check out the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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One Comment

  1. I’ve become recently upset about all of the plastic. I don’t necessarily want to outlaw it all, but I’m supportive of efforts to use alternatives. The plastic in the ocean is very troubling. I’ve never been a fan of plastic water bottles. We’ve all got a reusable one, and water from the tap is perfectly fine. There are times when the convenience of water bottles is necessary, but for me, I try and avoid them.

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