Educating children and the youth about climate change is crucial to promote climate action in these young ones since they are the future custodians of this mother planet we call earth. It helps them understand and address the impacts of the climate crisis the world is facing now, empowering them with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to act as agents of change.
One of the simplest ways to introduce carbon footprints to children is to give them a concreate way to interact with the concept whereby children for example are challenged to examine their transportation and eating habits, school and home electricity use and what they recycle and throw away.
During computer time, allow kids to input their habits in each of these categories and see what they come up with. It is advisable to walk students through using the calculator the first time they do it, accompanying each step with explanatory statements. After they’ve calculated their footprint, invite them to try again, this time modifying one category at a time to see how they could most easily reduce their number.
After they understand what a carbon footprint is, a good next step is to lead them in a discussion about how people everyday choices impact the environment. On the board or in small groups, invite students to come up with ideas about actions that might contribute to their carbon footprints, such as leaving unused electronics running or buying single-serving drinks and snacks. When children have produced a sufficient number of ideas, have them add alternative actions that lower their carbon footprint.
Invite students to make individual posters showing an action, or several, that they and their families can take to reduce their carbon load. When the posters are completed, display them in the classroom or hall before sending them home with children.
Children love nothing more than telling their families what to do, so sending them home with a carbon checklist for the week is bound to get their attention. Example could include “use a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water,” and “Unplug phone chargers when they are not in use.”