How to Raise an Environmentalist

Dec, 01, 2016

I truly believe that we can promote compassionate children who have a genuine concern for our natural world. It all stems, in my opinion, from early contact with nature, empathy for our fellow creatures, and a sense of curiosity and fascination. I absolutely do not encourage parents to paint a disastrous portrait of the earth’s future but rather to teach them to treat earth, nature and all the world’s inhabitants with respect and compassion. Telling children that our planet is in trouble and that global warming is a threat is simply too much of a burden for most of us deal with, but it’s especially so for a child. That is way more information than they need. That said, as parents who are raising our children in a place dealing with a major drought, we do tell them to not waste water because California’s water reservoir is low.I think too many kids are lacking in outdoor play and exploration time.

How are they supposed to learn about what nature is like, what wildlife lives there? And how do we expect them to treat all of this with respect when they never get to experience it? I see how my kids love exploring nature — all kinds of nature — and they have such a lust for learning about it. A study done by Cornell University found that children who experienced nature by hiking, camping, hunting or fishing before the age of 11 grow up to be adults who care about the environment, as compared to those who did not have this experience.

I think kids naturally care for both nature and animals from an early age, so if parents then nurture that love, their growing up and bringing that natural care into adulthood is easy. My husband and I both grew up with parents who loved being outside, so we naturally were exposed to that. It has been our common interest since we met 20 years ago — hiking, swimming, camping and doing all kinds of fun activities in nature. Now we’re giving this gift of experiencing nature to our children and in the process are raising three beautiful children who have a real connection to our planet and honestly care about it.


Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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