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How children are helping to make their families more eco-friendly – new research
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How children are helping to make their families more eco-friendly – new research

A family walk through a forest


The UN Climate Change Panel IPCCWe are in 2030, he has warned DeadlineFor halving the global carbon emissions to avoid climate catastrophe. Youth have responded to this stark threat with a surge in enthusiasm Climate activismAll over the planet. Millions upon millions of young people have gotten involved. Get out of schoolTaking to the streets and social media to inspire action climate injustice.

It’s clear that supporting children to care for the natural world from a young age is vital if we are to build an eco-friendly future. And a huge part of children’s environmental learning, or “socialisation”, occurs through observation and role modelling. Learning to Emulate family, teachers, peers, Admired celebrities or public figures – and being exposed to nature – shapes how children grow up to treat the environment.

As experts in marketing and consumption, we’ve been ResearchHow young people, regardless of gender or geography, can develop predispositions to sustainability through socialisation.

Primarily, it’s parents or caregivers who teach their children to conform to society’s environmental norms and expectations. By transmitting their own values or guiding principles, they pass on their beliefs about what behaviour is “acceptable”. Crucially, the way parents talk about sustainability – whether positive or negative – influences how children grow up to think about it themselves.

It’s not just about parents, though. If children see their role models’ genuine concern about or efforts towards cutting Food wasteReuse bags, bottles, cups, and take-back Energy-efficient transport, they’re likely to do the same.

A family walk through a forest
Children can be introduced to nature and help them understand climate change.

What’s more, introducing children to natural landscapes such as forestsThe wonders of the wild and Marine lifeThe dangers of PollutionChildren learn to appreciate and care about the environment from an early age.

Our ResearchIt also reflects on how children behave. Send acquired values, beliefs, norms, knowledge and skills back to their families – potentially altering family behaviour – via the process of “reverse socialisation”.

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If a child learns from their teacher about the damaging effects of CO₂ emissions, they may ask their families to reduce car use or take eco-friendly HolidaysLocal spots are better than those located overseas. Putting Recycling binsChildren may be encouraged to ask their parents if they can bring them home from school.

Now, BrandsWe are starting to notice how children encourage their parents be greener by pushing them to cycle, compost, or cycle short distances.

Multinational companiesIncluded ProcterAnd Gamble and H&MChildren are already recognized as key drivers of sustainability and have been made the center of campaigns highlighting their environmental credentials.

A mother and child play with Lego on the floor
Children can socialise with their caregivers to be more eco-conscious.

Prompted by letters from their main customers – ChildrenThe Lego GroupThe company aims to make all packaging 100% recyclable by 2025 and is looking for ways to build its famous bricks entirely without plastic.

Teaching sustainability

School is where children learn the most about the environment. The UK Department for Education’s recent Policy paper, on making education more focused on sustainability, is evidence of the government’s growing concerns around how schools can help children become greener citizens.

But these policiesOnly one way to do it: There is so much!. We don’t know whether teachers will have enough time to engage with extra environmental teaching, given the demands of the existing curriculum. Also, Lessons on sustainability aren’t featured across the curriculum, and kids beyond 14 can opt out from subjects like geography and natural history.

Four children play in nature
Government strategies are designed to get children involved in the natural world.

Alternativly, climate learning can be promoted on screen through Virtual reality – providing the opportunity to experience simulated environmental changes due to extreme weather or visualise oceans filled with plastic – or the use of gardening-focused games such as Gro Garden, Gro RecyclingAnd Eco Warriors. And as suggested by the Department for EducationA virtual National Education Nature ParkDigital maps allow children to upload their progress on learning about biodiversity. This can strengthen the connection with nature.

It’s clear that getting children involved in sustainability wherever they live will EncourageGreen traditions are those that help create lasting green traditions.


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