If you were to stop ten strangers in the street and ask them what is the single best thing people can do to help the environment thrive, you’ll be met with the usual suspects in quickfire succession. It will be things like recycling, not buying unnecessary plastic products, rocking energy conserving appliances, taking public transport when possible, carpooling, and all that sort of stuff. But while all these answers are true in that they will help the environment, they are not the single best thing because that podium spot goes to raising eco-friendly children.
It may be the simplest answer out there and one that has zero specifics, but it also has the most impossibly far-reaching positives as well. As horribly cliched as it sounds, teaching your children really is the best investment any of us can make in the future, especially when the world is at stake.

Of course, this answer raises its own much bigger question: how can we parents raise eco-friendly and environmentally conscious kids? Well, to help you in your quest for answers, we have pulled together a few bits of advice that the world will love you for:

1. Show, Don’t Tell
The most incredibly awesome thing any of us child-rearing folk can possibly do is lead by example. It’s being the people we want our kids to grow into. The reason for this is pretty simple: kids love copying. They are like sponges that can morph into exact replicas of you. They copy everything. You, older siblings, babysitters, farm animals, everything. That’s because they want to be just like you when they grow up. It’s terrifying, but it also gives you the perfect chance to make them little eco-warriors. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth, turning the lights off when you leave a room, have Renewal by Andersen replace your windows with energy efficient ones, and use a tea bag twice. Okay, we’re joking about the latter one, but you get the point. Our good habits will have a lasting impact on our children.

2. Say Hi To Nature
Another amazing thing you can do as momma and dadda is introduce your children to Mother Nature. No, we’re not talking about through the periscope of a screen (even though Human Planet and Blue Planet are absolutely astonishing), nor are we talking about highlighting what we hear about nature in the news. We’re talking about taking your kids out into the world so they can experience it for themselves, firsthand. Whenever possible, take them to the beach, go on a hike, indulge in a spot of rock climbing, get the bikes out for a ride - anything that will throw them into the thick of it. But don’t stop there. Go a hundred steps further by planting trees once a month, something that’s both fun and environmentally epic. By doing this, you will be creating a psychological bridge between having family fun and soaking up the great outdoors. So, if you begin doing just one thing today, make sure you encourage your children to go outside and play and get outside with them.

3. Make Sure They Know It’s Cool
Leading by example is the single best thing you can do, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t back it up by giving a voice to your values. Tell them why you do what you do and what big impact your little daily habits have on the world. Educate them as you go. Teach them about conserving water, saving electricity, why you don’t buy plastic bags from the grocery store and always refuse straws when you are eating out. We know this sounds kind of heavy, but you’re not doing this to try and brainwash your kids, you’re doing it so they understand what values you hold closest and why you do what you do. On that front, try not to just hit them with a statement. Instead, try and turn these habits into a discussion where they can learn about ethics and the environment. It will help them develop their own opinions and that will stick with them more than anything.

4. Encourage More Questions
The best thing about having kids is seeing their curiosity blossom. They are intrigued by everything and it’s our responsibility to feed that intrigue. You don’t want your kids to take what you say at face value, and nor should you expect them too. It’s a much better idea to encourage them to ask questions, find out what they think, and keep that mind exploring the endless possibilities. A great way to do this is to have question time at dinner where everyone gets to ask a question about something they discovered that day.

Like we said, it’s the best thing anyone can do.