“I find that taking children outdoors even when they are very young and introducing them to nature helps them love nature. Having a few potted plants to attract birds and butterflies allows the child to observe them. Making leaf prints, bark rubbings, keeping a log book on birds and plants observed daily in their own surroundings – all this will encourage their interest in nature. Reading books on nature and watching films about animals and birds will also help.”
– Usha Ramaiah, Coordinator, Kids for Tigers, Bangalore
Even within the home, there are various things that you can encourage your child to do, which will help her realise how she can contribute to saving the world, in small ways of her own:
- Switching off the lights and fan in her room when she leaves it
- Separating garbage and disposing off plastic, papers and bottles separately
- Recycling – teach her to draw on the back of paper that has already been used
- Carrying her own eco-friendly bag when going to the store
- Setting the air-conditioner at 25 degrees, the optimal temperature that helps save energy • Turning off electronic devices – computers, televisions, music systems – when not in use
- Saving water by turning off the tap when brushing teeth, taking a shower instead of filling the bath-tub, etc.
- Walking or cycling to nearby places instead of being driven there
- Using public transport and car pools
Older children can play a more active role outside the house in a number of ways. They can:
- Be taught the environmental protection laws, and work in groups to identify organisations that are breaking laws by dumping garbage and effluents, etc.
- Form an environment or nature club where they collaborate on projects such as rain water harvesting, building solar panels, composting, planting trees, etc.
- Organise awareness campaigns in the community on various issues
With more and more NGOs today taking on young and enthusiastic students, volunteering is probably the easiest way for youngsters to contribute to conservation. Dr. Margaret Lowman, Executive Director of the Tree Foundation, talks about how they involve children in their efforts: “Tree Foundation works with children tirelessly. We educate children in tropical rain forests to become better stewards of their forests; in Ethiopia, for example, we handed out tee-shirts that serve as a ‘field guide of clothing’ for identifying the important insect pollinators. With this type of education, children can become detectives in identifying their precious biodiversity. In India, we hand out books to educate the young people about conservation and how one person can make a difference. And then, back in USA, we give many school talks, answer hundreds of email queries, and feature kids on our blogs so that they can make a difference in educating others about what to buy, how to be a good steward of forests, and what actions to take,” she says.