5 Ways to Pass Down Environmental Values to Your Children

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival
This post is part of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!


In celebration of Earth Day 2012, I would like to share how I hope to pass down environmental values to my son (and soon to arrive daughter).

1. Take the time to appreciate nature.

I’ve written about the efforts that we’ve made to help Baby appreciate the natural world, and I really believe that they have made a big impact upon him. At 22 months, he has now spent the majority of his life loving the outdoors and animals. I have made a conscious effort to point out a beautiful flower, an interesting tree, a brightly colored bird, etc. Baby now does the same thing. He loves to describe elements of nature and is so enthusiastic about everything having to do with the outdoors. Baby is now a constant reminder to me to appreciate the smallest beauties in life, which I love.
If your little ones appreciate the world around them, they are more likely to take care of it throughout their lives.

2. Play outside.

Mom and toddler at farm

Baby, baby-on-the-way, and I frequently visit local farms.

It’s so simple, but whether you take a family hike, play a game of hide and seek outside, collect acorns, or pet animals at the local farm, you are helping your child create lasting memories of a world that is worth preserving.

3. Model the environmental values that you hope to pass along to your children.

Any effort that you make to live a greener life can make an impact on your child, and baby steps certainly count for a lot! Whether you recycle, use non-toxic cleaners, or simply make a resolution to take 3 easy steps toward a green living lifestyle, your children will absorb this and begin to do these things on her own at some point.

4. Normalize green living.

Just think how easy it will be for your children to make many of the green choices that have taken us as parents so much effort. I personally did not grow up recycling or trying to choose non-toxic versions of the personal care products in my life. I had to unlearn that the smell of Windex or the artificial lemon scent of floor cleaner was not really clean; I had to forget the strong artificial scents of soaps and creams as the products that I coveted for my body. I learned too far along in life that I didn’t need to smell like bubble gum to feel clean. If your children grown up with green and non-toxic choices being part of normal life, they will never have to put in the effort that we did to green our families lives. It will simply be the obvious and natural choices that they make over and over again throughout their lives.

5. Talk about it.

Be open about why you make certain choices. Read books that emphasize the beauty of our world and the need for preservation. Ask your children for their opinions about environmental issues. Take trips to see natural wonders. You don’t have to pretend to be a green living expert. You just need to let your children know that it is important that you all care about the environment as a family.

How to you hope to pass down environmental values to your children?

    Thank you for stopping by the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival! Please relax and take time to read these other great eco-living posts:
    Earth Day Blog Carnival - Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction
  • You are a Child of the Earth – Using the Earth as their classroom, Patti from Canadian Unschool teaches her 4 children their spiritual connection to the Earth and she accepts that loving the Earth can get really, really messy.
  • Cutting Out Paper – Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went from curiosity and concern to actually cutting out the use of paper towels in her household. She is proud to be “greener” as each Earth Day passes.
  • The World is Brown – Debra Ann Elliot of Words are Timeless believes in keeping the Earth green, but because so many people inhabit the Earth it is turning brown because people aren’t doing their part by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
  • 7 Child And Eco Friendly Activities To Honor The Earth (Plus Some Environmental Books For Kids) – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her favorite books that help children become more aware of the importance of respecting and caring for Mother Earth. In addition, she hosts a guest post outlining seven child and eco friendly activities to honor the earth.
  • 5 Ways We Teach Our Children To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – Valarie at Momma In Progress shares a few tips for encouraging young children to care for the earth.
  • Little Changes – Big Results – Meegs at A New Day talks about how sometimes it’s the little decisions and changes that can lead us to find big results, and how she’s baby-stepping her way to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
  • Inspiring the Next Generation – aNonyMous at at Radical Ramblings hopes to inspire her daughter to live a green and sustainable lifestyle, in the same way she was inspired by her high-school science teacher, and talks about the changes her family are making towards this vision.
  • Eco-Friendly Cleansers: Safe For the Environment, Healthy For Every Body – Rebekah at Liberated Family writes about safe and natural alternatives to toxic, household cleaning products..
  • Lightening My Footprint with Cloth Nappies (Diapers) – Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares the biggest eco-choice she has made so far, and why she is so passionate about it.
  • Clutter Free for a Cause – At Living Peacefully with Children Mandy’s penchant for decluttering and simple living cuts down on consumerism, taking less of a tole on the Earth.
  • Eco-Parenting: Homemade Bug Spray – Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares a homemade bug spray recipe that helps her family to enjoy the natural world while taking precautions against bug bites.
  • Let the Scales Fall From My Eyes…Just Not Too Quickly – Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about the discomfort of no longer being able to live in denial over how her choices affect the world around her.
  • Fostering Love of Earth – Justine at The Lone Home Ranger instills a love of nature in her daughters by embarking on their first backyard vegetable garden together.
  • Being in Nature – Carrie at Love Notes Mama knows that just being in nature is more than enough.
  • 5 Ways to Pass Down Environmental Values to Your Children – Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares how easy it can be to instill environmental values in your children.
  • Viva Portlandia – Amy at Anktangle writes about the place she lives and loves in: Portland. She describes the ways this green city makes it easy for her family to take care of our earth, and also the steps she’s taking to further lessen her family’s environmental impact.
  • Conspicuous Conservationism – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction examines the phenomenon of eco-conscious behavior as a status symbol.
  • Time for Radical Sustainability – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle ponders how she can model a truly sustainable lifestyle for her children and raise them in a way that their environmental consciousness is as natural as breathing!

A big thank you to all of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival participants!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carrie @ LoveNotesMama April 22, 2012 at 7:14 am

I love how all these suggestions are so.. organic..! to every day life. That makes it so easy to do. We love visiting local farms, too. Sounds like it could be a great place to meet like-minded parents, too! :)
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2 Kelly April 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Great list Charise! That modeling – in particular – is so important…how easy it can be at times to not practice what we preach. These little ones have sharp eyes for such things!

Isn’t it fun to think of what we can do to inspire such love in our children? As I look at my daughter sitting next to me I think it’s one of my very greatest hopes for her…
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3 Patti @ Canadian Unschooler April 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I totally agree about normalizing green living. That’s how I feel about breastfeeding and cloth diapering and baking bread and raising chickens for eggs. It’s just our normal–not a big deal and not a competition with the other moms on our street. I hope that my children will simply internalize these normal practices and then go on to repeat them in their lives as adults.
Patti @ Canadian Unschooler recently posted..You Are a Child of the EarthMy Profile


4 Terri April 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm

All these points are so relevant for me – thank-you! I am realising how much my children are already internalising my values and words – people are surprised when my daughter exclaims loudly that ‘it is such a beautiful day’ but I am proud to know that she hears these phrases from me and it gives me more inspiration to continue appreciating all the details of nature.

I love your entire approach to normalise green living in our homes – I also feel it serves us better if there are other like-minded people around – a lot of the time our choices are seen as weird and strange and so it’s good to spend time with other people where natural living is acceptable and embraced. I’ve seen other children reject the ‘eco-life’ because they were fed up of always being the odd one out among their peers. As a parent I hope to support our children to adopt a positive self identity in seeing themselves as ones who care for others and the Earth. So yes the more we can normalise this life for everyone then the better.

Thank-you so much for your words of wisdom in this Earth Day Blog Carnival – much appreciated especially since new baby is so close to arriving!
Terri recently posted..Earth Day 2012 – Time for Radical SustainabilityMy Profile


5 Anna April 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Such a great article! And it is very actual nowadays. Our children don’t have a close connection to our mother nature like we had. They play with their iPads or Xboxes, want to be online all-day long, and aren’t interested in any outdoor activities. I think that with your useful tips could this isolation process a little bit slow down, and the little boys and girls could find some pleasure in the offline world as well.
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6 Meegs April 22, 2012 at 8:48 pm

This is great. I definitely have to get better at talking to Gwen about why we do things. Walking the walk is so necessary, but so is talking the talk! Thanks for the reminder!
Meegs recently posted..work in progress {Happy Earth Day!}My Profile


7 Amy April 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Great post, Charise! This is really a wonderful list, because it illustrates just how simple this all really is: if taking care of the environment is important to you, share that value with your children in all the ways that you enjoy.
Amy recently posted..Viva PortlandiaMy Profile


8 Liz April 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Our children don’t have a close connection to our mother nature like we had. We should engage them in environmental activities.
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9 bambu April 23, 2012 at 1:36 am

I think that with your useful tips could this isolation process a little bit slow down, and the little boys and girls could find some pleasure in the offline world as well.
bambu recently posted..Good Low Carb DietsMy Profile


10 Sam April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Such a great article! I admit it, it is the our responsibility (the parents) to educate our children in a green way, to normalize the organic and sustainable life. The earth day is a nice occasion to talk about our mother nature and environment with the children, my son takes already care about the trash.
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11 Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry April 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

These are all great, but I especially like the normalise green living, which is what I am hoping to achieve with my son :)
Christine @ African Babies Don’t Cry recently posted..Lightening My Footprint with Cloth Nappies (Diapers)My Profile


12 Andrea April 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

My little girl seems to think already green:) she doesn’t throw away the trash, she know the word recycling, and she prefers to ride a bike instead of travel in the car!
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13 Verame April 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Happy Earth Day! How did you celebrate yesterday’s Earth Day? I think it’s really nice to educate our children so they would appreciate mother nature.

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14 Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling April 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I think the whole idea of “normalizing” green living is so critical. You are absolutely right that if our kids see our sustainable homemaking practices as part of everyday living, they will naturally grow up to appreciate and follow our example — or so we hope!
Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling recently posted..Connecting with Food and FarmMy Profile


15 Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama April 24, 2012 at 2:10 am

Heh – talk about it! Funny, this is one aspect that I overlook. I model green living but forget to explain the why more often than not! Great post. Love all the ideas!
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16 Debra Elliott April 24, 2012 at 7:28 am

Such a great message and reminder.
Debra Elliott recently posted..The World is BrownMy Profile


17 Melissa April 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

These are such simple, practical ideas, but I really believe each one can make a big difference. Now that Annabelle is getting a bit older and more conversational, I’d like to try ‘talking about it,’ more and more.
Melissa recently posted..Culinary Wanderings #4My Profile


18 Bea@W South Beach April 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I love hanging out with the nature on my outdoor activities like climbing mountains when I was at my early age. Wonderful post Charise it’s really important for us to let our children know how our environment affects our lives and how to take care of them. Get them involve to help protect our nature.


19 Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network April 27, 2012 at 5:41 am

Thanks for sharing this at Natural Mother’s Seasonal Celebration Sunday- I think it’s paramount that children grow up fully connected with nature, so I like you point about playing outside!
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20 Sarah April 29, 2012 at 5:08 am

The protection of the environment should become a habit from the early childhood and I always try to find some new ways how to engage my children to care more about the world around them. I subscribe to the theory that education is the best way to raise awareness about environmental issues and that’s why I appreciate the initiative launched by the authorities of my native Toronto who decided to organize a number of biodiversity workshops and other attractions so all of us could learn a little bit more about the protection and conservation of biodiversity in our province.


21 Joshua@Nanny Taxes May 9, 2012 at 4:04 am

Nature is one of the important part of our living it sometimes relieve us from any stress. It also sometimes educates us into something new and helps us understand all the things in nature. We started to learn all of this when are children. Those unusual things around us introduce to us. We slowly understand and appreciate nature. I appreciate parents who really introduce it clearly to their child. It’s really important in the part of their lives. I love nature and also let’s teach them how to properly take care of it.


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