Environmental Education for Kids: Facing the Future

Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions

I want my children to act in eco-friendly ways because they care about sustainability. Caring isn’t inherited, though, and, if I teach them well, they will think for themselves, so they won’t necessarily come to the same conclusions I have about appropriate responses to the state of the world.

Even if we were all to arrive at the same conclusions, we wouldn’t necessarily get there at the same pace.

And, you know we won’t all arrive at the same conclusions.

The only hope if you want your kids to be eco friendly is to teach them the underlying principles and set them free to come to their own conclusions. When they are very young, they will probably lift their opinions from yours, but that will end soon enough. While they still think you have the answers, make sure you help them understand why you care about your environmental footprint and how that influences the choices your family makes.

Sustainability Curriculum

I found that it wasn’t enough to just tell my children what we are doing as a family. I have years of influence that brought me to any given moment’s decisions. I wanted teaching tools to help me integrate environmental education into our homeschooling.

After looking at a variety of resources, we chose Facing the Future as our environmental education curriculum. I like that they don’t take environmental issues out of context. Connections are complex, but they provide curriculum from elementary to post-secondary levels.

The global issues addressed through Facing the Future are:

  • Nature and Natural Resources
  • Human Health and Wellbeing
  • Impacts on the Planet
  • Government and Economy

The subject areas addressed through Facing the Future are:

  • Literacy
  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Their approach to global sustainability is multi-diciplinary, and their lessons always encourage students to take action. They emphasize service learning, media literacy, and understanding how worldview and culture shape our perceptions of the world.

Sometimes I look at curriculum and think, “I could have done a better job with this.” That’s inevitable for a PhD who has spent a lot of years teaching. I don’t say that with this curriculum. Not even close. This curriculum is far beyond the level that any individual could put together alone. Facing the Future is a team—a BIG team—and I am constantly grateful for their work in developing this valuable tool.

We have used Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions (grades 6-8). We’ve also downloaded some of their free environmental education lessons. I’m looking forward to Buy, Use, Toss? A Closer Look at the Things We Buy (grades 9-12), but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. We have more middle school resources to get through before we need to face high school

How have you taught your children about sustainability and green living?
What tools and resources have you found helpful?

High Standards: Sustainable

Tegu wooden toy blocks

Sustainable standardSustainable
A healthy planet ensures the future health of our children. While every product we carry is non-toxic, many are also made in whole or in part with recycled (or recyclable) parts and/or components, derived from sustainably harvested forests and may be biodegradable. Most importantly, we prefer products that are reusable first, replacing use-and-toss items.

No greenwashing!

We look for products made with not just any natural materials but sustainable materials—resources that can be and will be replaced. The oil and gas used to make plastics and other petro-chemical products cannot and will not be replaced. We ask what kind of materials a product is made from and how that material is made. True sustainability also considers the long-term good of the community in which a product is made.

Just because a product claims to be green, doesn’t necessarily mean it meets your standard of sustainability. Opinions can differ when people make their own conscious choices because each of us has different values and priorities. By making our choices transparent, we hope that helps you make choices that work for your family

Sustainable products from bynature.ca

Look for children’s crayons made from soy wax, cloth diapers made from cotton or hemp and wool, and toys made from sustainably harvested wood.

Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
Sustainable wooden toy blocks

At Tegu, the product followed the desire for a positive social impact. The founders did not start with the idea of wooden blocks. They started by looking for a business that would use an under-used local resource and that could create jobs in Honduras. The beautifully designed wooden blocks followed.

The wood for Tegu blocks is cut by “small-scale woodcutting cooperatives supported by international NGOs focused on sustainable forestry.” Tegu also supports local reforestation efforts. Sustainability is built into the Tegu business model.

Your child probably won’t care about all of this—yet. You child is more likely to be fascinated by the blocks snapping together with the help of magnets. Tegu gives a new twist to an old toy.

This month, we are telling you more about our Safe Family Promise at bynature.ca. To make it easy for you to identify products by their key attributes, look for our standards labels.

Earth Day 40th Anniversary

Earth Day 2010Every day should be a day when we commit to sustainable living. For a lot of us, we have committed to conscious living and we look at the choices we make to lower our environmental impact from big issues like how we transport ourselves to smaller issues like which bunch of broccoli to buy.

Why do we need Earth Day? To refocus our efforts, recommit to doing more, inspire our actions by learning about the actions of others. As with New Year’s resolutions, taking a day to assess our progress helps us to check whether we’ve met our goals, check whether we can push our goals further to see greater results. This also gives us a day when we and our community can meet to celebrate, give service, and take action.

Earth Day is a launch pad for course-changing, positive environmental action. Since 1970, Earth Day has activated individuals and organizations annually to strengthen the collective fight against man’s exploitive relationship with the planet.

We work every day to make better choices. On this day, we come together to ask what collective action we can take.

Forty years after the first Earth Day, the world is in greater peril than ever. While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity – an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future.

Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy. Join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day.

Earth Day activities are taking place today and all weekend. Find activities in your community and make a lasting change.