Everyone can do something to fight climate change and protect the environment. Here are eight easy, impactful things children can do to save the planet.
Eight things children can do to save the planet
Many children are very concerned about environmental issues. Social media can make us more aware than ever of what’s happening around the world, but hearing news stories can make up feel helpless and anxious.
Children especially can feel like they don’t have a voice or way to make a difference, but there are things that we can all do to make an impact and help the planet.
Here are eight things children can do to help save the planet. They’re actionable ideas that empower children to have a voice and make a real difference.
If you’re active on social media, you’ll know it’s very easy for fake news, exaggerated stories, and confusing memes to spread rapidly. Make sure you are informed about what’s really going on.
You can follow trusted and knowledgeable accounts, and educate yourself on the issues affecting our planet.
You’ll be able to spot, and stop the sharing of, fake stories which can clog up social media and spread unnecessary anxiety. Instead, you can use your personal platform to share real stories with your friends, to raise awareness and encourage them to join you in taking real action.
Before you share a story or meme, check out if it’s real. Ask a trusted adult and do a fact-check to see if the story is correct.
Choose what you eat
The choices we make every day, such as what we buy and what we eat, can have a big impact on our planet. What can you and your family do to make your weekly shop more environmentally friendly?
:: Can you set up a zero-waste lunch bag to take to school, with re-useable water bottle and cutlery?
:: Can you swap plastic-wrapped food and snacks for zero-waste choices? Ditch all the yoghurt pots, cheese strings, and snack bags, and take homemade cookies or fruit instead.
:: Find out if there’s a zero-waste store near you and start doing some of your shopping there.
:: Commit to being the person in your family who always remembers to take re-useable bags and containers with you when you go shopping.
:: Change brands of food so you are buying recyclable glass and paper packaging instead of plastic packaging.
:: Think about where your food comes from and make changes to eat more locally. Work out some seasonal options to have for dinner, so you’re not eating out-of-season ingredients that have been flown in from another country. Choose a locally grown apple rather than a flown-in melon. Learn how to make a simple meal for your family rather than ordering in overpackaged take-out.
:: Grow your own food. Growing a pot of herbs or some vegetable puts you in touch with the planet. You’ll learn about the seasons and growing cycle, and you can have fresh organic food from right outside your own door.
:: Encourage your parents and help them make changes, so it’s not all left to them.
Buy less and buy smarter
Our buying habits have a big impact. Put simply: stop buying stuff!
How do you spend your pocket money? What do you ask for when it’s your birthday? Pause before you buy anything and ask yourself if you really need it, and if you can get if from a better supplier.
:: Can you re-use your pencil case for the new school year?
:: Do you need a new outfit or can you wear something you already have? Maybe you can organise a clothes or accessories swap with friends to get a new-to-you look.
:: Can you borrow something you need or buy it second-hand rather than buying new?
:: Use the library rather than buying a new book.
:: Think about all the things you buy over the course of a year and how much energy is needed to make them all, and how much packaging they come in.
:: Change what you do at weekends: hang out with your friends instead of going shopping!
Write a letter to your MP or representative
Do you know who represents you in the government? In the UK, every area of the country has a Member of Parliament (MP) who represents the local people in the House of Commons. To be able to do their job properly, MPs need to know the opinions of the people they represent. So, why not start a conversation with your MP?
You can write them a letter or go and see them in person at one of their local meetings, called surgeries. If you’re in the UK, you can find out who your MP is here. If you’re in the USA, you can find out who your representative is here.
It’s their job to listen to you, so let them know you are concerned about the environment, which issues are especially important to you, and ask them to help you make change.
Write to a business
If you see a local business or shop doing something that’s not great for the planet, write to them and let them know.
Maybe you could arrange to meet the store manager and ask them to change what they are doing.
Perhaps you can get your whole class on board for a group campaign?
You could ask your local store to stop using plastic bags, ask a cafe to use washable mugs instead of disposable cups, get your supermarket to set up recycling boxes, or ask a restaurant to ditch one-use drinking straws or stop using palm oil for unsustainable sources.
Swapping to eco-friendly practices is better for the environment and can be great for business. Stores can publicise their changes to encourage eco-friendly customers to shop with them.
Donate to an eco charity
Giving some of your pocket money or organising a fundraising activity for an environmental charity
is a very effective way to contribute. Established charities already have the expertise and organisation in place to make a difference, and adding your funds to those given by others can add up to a great deal of support.
Maybe you have a local environmental charity you would like to support or maybe you would like to donate to an international one. You could make a regular donation or give money when you hear about a particular crisis.
Start a conversation with your friends
You might not realise it but you can have a lot of influence on your friends and classmates. Your example can encourage others to make changes to support our planet.
Get a conversation started and you’ll find allies to support you, and you’ll be raising awareness with others who might not know as much about the environment.
Ask your teacher or group leader if you can host a debate, start a class conversation, or raise an issue with your school council. What changes could you make in your school?
Join the Climate Protest
You might also like to join the School Strike for Climate movement.
These strikes were founded by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who first protested outside the Swedish Parliament building one Friday in August 2018. She’s been hosting a weekly strike ever since then and has been joined by thousands of other young people striking in hundreds towns and cities around the world. Children take time off from class to demand action against climate change.
To find out if there’s already a strike organised when you live you could do a search for ‘School Strike for Climate’ and the name of your town. You might also find them called ‘Fridays for Future’, ‘Youth for Climate’ and ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’.
There’s a world-wide strike being organised for September 20th 2019, where adults will join the child strikers for a huge day of global action. You can find out more about the September Climate Strike here.
You might like to ask your teachers and parents/guardians to join you.
Make a protest poster and join in!
How to make your environment protest poster
If you’re going to attend a climate strike, you might like to make a protest poster to take with you. Click here to see how to make a climate protest poster ready for your campaign.