Life in the Time of COVID
By: Maria Casey
Everything that Generations X, Y, and Z are doing to help reverse the effects of climate change and environmental degradation is crucial and certainly impactful, but the real future of this planet is in the hands of Generation Alpha. Born between 2011 and 2025, the members of Generation Alpha are, according to the social researcher Mark McCrindle who coined the term, “the most formally educated generation ever, the most technology-supplied generation ever, and globally the wealthiest generation ever.” No pressure though.
Tiny, yet loud, sponges, kids learn the most from what they observe around them, and so by setting the example of caring about your planet, they will too. Start with these very doable 5 Steps.
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot are the guiding principles to showing your budding eco-warriors the better, more involved and aware way of renting space from this planet. Teach your kids how to put the 5 R’s into effect every time you consciously put one of the R’s into action. Let them help you sort the recycling from the general trash. When deciding whether or not to buy something, explain why you might end in a refusal – because it’s wasteful, or unnecessary, or detrimental to the health of the planet, etc. Clue your kids in on all your decisions and they’ll be more aware, conscious citizens of the Earth.
Once a month, dedicate a “Clean-Up Day” in which you spend the morning or afternoon on an environmental clean-up activity. Either volunteer with an organization or go your own way by spotlighting a particular area in your neighborhood and cleaning it up. Maybe it’s the big park by your house or the beach across the city – bring gloves and bags and get to work cleaning up your immediate environment. It will show your kids how much waste is actually just hanging out all around us in our favorite places, as well as showing them the value of the effort that it takes to remove the waste.
Invest in a worm composter to show, in real-time, what happens to our organic food waste. Worms can process half their weight in food per day, which makes them the tiny, ideal, slithery companions to your home waste that would otherwise rot in a landfill. Worms digest food scraps, which then creates vermicompost (or worm compost), which can then be used to grow plants in your garden. In a living composter, there are multiple trays, so while one fills up, the worms move up to the work on the compost in the next tray.
There’s no better way to show kids the respect the Earth deserves than leaving your air-conditioned, sound-proofed walls behind, pitching a tent, and camping under the stars. At a campsite after a long hike, kids learn the value of finding everything they need from nature – their entertainment, their food, their exercise, their warmth, and even their sleep. Plus, hello, S’mores.
Make a habit of narrating the story of the items you use in your home. When you buy clothes, learn the story of where they’re coming from. Fast fashion has created a wide berth between the creators and the wearers of today’s clothes, so much so that it would be easy for a Generation Alpha kid to never have a conception of where the shirt on her back comes from. Buying from independent designers and sustainably-minded businesses give your kids a chance to understand the story behind the things we wear and use every day, which in turn gives them a reason to consider how and why things are made, and how that process affects our planet.