• Sustainability Activities for Babies – with Biome

    July 28, 2022 • LIFE

    Our little ones are very fast learners with ultra-absorbent, sponge-like minds, so it’s important to ensure they are presented with the right kinds of messages from day one. It’s never too soon to get your child familiar with the concept of sustainability. In fact, there are a number of things you can do to introduce your bub to sustainability even before they reach kindergarten. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we share some of our favourite sustainability activities for babies and environmental activities for older kids.

    Sustainability for Kids

    Broadly speaking, sustainability refers to the ability to support ecological, economic, and human vitality over time. More specifically, sustainable living is about preventing the depletion of the natural resources we need to survive.

    Today, the word sustainability is part of our everyday vocabulary. In recent years, most of us have become accustomed to implementing more earth-friendly practices into our day-to-day lives. Even the smallest activities, such as opting for reusable shopping bags, limiting plastic waste, and recycling, all play a part in keeping our planet healthy.

    Introducing our kids to the concept of sustainability can help them foster good eco-friendly habits from an early age.

    It’s great to start by educating young children about the environment, how systems operate, and what we need from the natural environment to live.

    As children reach school age, you may like to begin discussing topics such as pollution and endangered species.

    Visual prompts and activities can help to bring these discussions to life and provide children with tangible examples of what sustainability looks like in a real-life context.

    How to Promote Sustainability in Childcare

    Most early-learning childcare centres incorporate discussions about sustainability discussions and eco-friendly activities as part of their curriculum.

    Your child is very likely to come home from childcare excited to share what they’ve learnt about the environment, wildlife, and sustainability.

    Sustainability learning points and activities at childcare may include:

    • Introductory discussions about sustainability and waste, using examples of over-flowing bins and food waste
    • Daily composting and recycling
    • Garden play
    • Teaching children to turn off taps and switch off lights
    • Using homemade paints instead of chemical-based acrylic varieties
    • Using recycled household items for crafts
    • Using recycled paper for writing and crafts
    • Encouraging outdoor play
    • Encouraging plastic-free, waste-free lunches
    • For older children, discussions about drought, pollution, and air and water quality

    If your child doesn’t attend childcare, there are a number of ways in which you can kickstart their sustainability education from home.

    All of the points mentioned above can be emulated within the home. You can also encourage sustainable play and behaviours through home-specific educational activities.

    We’ll explore some of these below.

    Sustainability Activities for Babies

    While they won’t be aware of the theory behind it all just yet, it’s a great idea to encourage more sustainable play from day one with your new bub. This will help to reduce your family’s carbon footprint on the whole and set up a foundation for sustainability discussions a little later on.

    From choosing more eco-friendly toys to spending time outdoors with your little one, there are a number of sustainable activities for babies that you can try at home.

    Opt For Sustainably-Made, Non-Toxic Toys

    Our first tip is to choose sustainably-made, non-toxic toys for your baby to play with.

    Many commercial mass-produced toys are crafted from plastic, chemicals and toxic dyes. These materials leach toxins into the environment when they’re created and when they’re eventually dumped into landfills.

    Opt for eco-friendly toys instead. Look to toys made from wood, natural fibres, and non-toxic dyes.

    These environmentally-safe toys aren’t mass-produced, meaning they’re both better for the environment and they’re better quality.

    We love the Australian animal fabric toys by Barefoot. They’re crafted from 100% hand-woven fabric and 100% natural fibres. They also use non-toxic and colourfast dyes during the manufacturing process. The Barefoot artisans don’t mass-produce their pieces, meaning they can create premium-quality toys. Barefoot is opposed to exploitative practices and ensures each artisan earns a proper wage and works in fair conditions.

    When it comes to bathtime, we know babies love a bath full of toys. Hevea creates gorgeous rubber duckies and other bath toys made from 100% natural and biodegradable hevea rubber. The toys are free of PVC, BPA, phthalates, and artificial colours, so they’re safer for your bub and the planet. They float on water and are easy for tiny hands to grasp, so they’re the ideal eco-friendly alternative to plastic bath toys.

    Encourage Nature Play

    Familiarise your little one with nature by encouraging nature play.

    Use outdoor spaces such as gardens, grass areas, and seaside locations to introduce bub to naturally-occurring materials. Allow them to play with flowers, rocks, leaves, dirt, shells, sand and grass. This helps children become comfortable with naturally-occurring materials from the very beginning of their lives.

    Your baby’s early introduction to these materials, and their learned appreciation for them, will help to support these discussions later down the track. As your children grow up, you’ll be able to explain how these items are involved in various ecosystems, and why it’s important to preserve them.

    Use Recycled Paper for Drawings

    When teaching your baby to draw and scribble up a storm, opt for scrap or recycled paper.

    Reduce your carbon footprint by using upcycled options (butcher’s paper, newspaper, old wrapping paper), recycled paper, or sustainably-made paper (crafted from cotton and linen rags, banana fibre, flax fibre, and more) instead of traditional paper-mill varieties.

    Go For Planet-Friendly Pencils and Crayons

    While we’re on the topic of sustainable crafts, let’s talk eco-friendly crayons and pencils.

    Generally, crayons are made from petroleum. Unfortunately, petroleum-based crayons take hundreds of years to biodegrade, so they are definitely not the most sustainable option. If you do have a bunch of petroleum-based crayons lying around, the good news is that most recycling stations accept crayons! So, instead of dumping them in general waste, be sure to head to a dedicated recycling plant.

    As for the more sustainable alternative? Beeswax crayons are the way to go. Honeysticks crayons are our favourites. They are handmade in New Zealand from 100% pure beeswax and contain no paraffin wax or fillers. They’re produced using environmentally sustainable processes and are coloured using non-toxic dyes. The packaging is also made from recycled materials. Bonus!

    Now, let’s consider pencils. Traditional pencils can be recycled, as most wooden pencils are made from cedar trees. However, mechanical pencils that have plastic or metal casings with lead sticks cannot be recycled. Pencil shavings are biodegradable, but as with traditional crayons, this process is extremely slow.

    Lyra pencils are a much more eco-friendly option. They are non-toxic and forest-friendly, so they’re much safer for your little ones than lead pencils. They’re also available in 25 colours, so your bub can enjoy testing out all of the beautiful shades!

    Environmental Activities for Kids

    For toddlers and older children, you can begin to encourage discussions about sustainability and experiment with specific earth-focused activities.

    Reuse Household Items for Crafts

    When it’s craft time, it’s a great idea to encourage children to use upcycled household items in their creations. This not only helps to foster creativity and imagination but also reduces household waste overall.

    Set up old cereal boxes, toilet rolls, dried pasta, and aluminium cans on the crafts table and let your children put together their own masterpieces.

    You could also use non-toxic bio-organic materials to create art supplies with your little one.  To create your very own chemical-free paint, all you need is flour, salt, water, and food colouring. Or, make your own play dough using flour, coconut oil, salt, cream of tartar, water, and food colouring. We love this recipe.

    In addition to the beeswax crayons and forest-friendly pencils, these craft supplies round out a sustainable, eco-friendly art kit.

    Plant a Garden Together

    One of the best ways to teach your children about natural resources is to plant a garden together.

    Show your little ones how food comes to be by taking them through the process from start to finish. Some of our favourite seed kits include:

    Once you’ve grown your goodies, you can whip up some delicious meals together with the fruits of your own labour. This activity is a good way to prompt discussions about food resources, food waste, and sustainable and healthy eating.

    We definitely recommend equipping your little one with their very own gardening bag for an extra touch of fun! This kit from EverEarth is made from 100% FSC certified wood and is chemical-free. EverEarth partners with the Plant-A-Tree forest sustainability initiative.

    Purchasing these quality gardening tools made from recyclable materials also helps to reduce plastic waste in landfills. It’s a win-win!

    Collect Rain Water

    Collecting rainwater is a great way to teach your child all about water conservation.

    If you have a water tank, you can explain how the system works and how tank water differs from the tap water they drink.

    If you don’t have a rainwater tank, consider collecting rainwater and using it to water plants around your home. This can be a great way to demonstrate how to use water resources effectively and sustainably.

    Let your little one have a go at giving the plants a drink with their very own watering can.

    Read Books About Sustainability and the Earth

    Stock up your bookshelf with books about sustainability, the earth, and all living things.

    At bedtime, you may like to sit down and enjoy some reading time together. You could read the books aloud and let the content prompt discussions about sustainability and eco-friendly living.

    We particularly love these books for environmentally-curious kids:

    Make Air and Water Pollution Experiments

    A great way to educate your children on pollution is to run real-life experiments in your backyard!

    We love these experiments showing how air pollution and water pollution appear, and how polluted air and water differ from clean air and water.

    These experiments are ideal for primary school children, aged 6+.

    Visit Op Shops for Toys

    Head out on an adventure to pick up clothes and toys from op-shops in your neighbourhood.

    You can use this opportunity to explain that clothing waste is one of the biggest contributors to landfills and to discuss the importance of upcycling old clothing.

    Encourage your children to pick out pre-loved pieces for their dress-up and toy boxes.

    Choose Plastic-Free, Battery-Free Activities

    A great way to keep your children entertained in a sustainable way is to opt for plastic-free, battery-free activities.

    Wooden puzzles, traditional games, and origami are our top three picks!

    Enjoy some traditional wooden tossing games in the backyard with Planet Finska. Planet Finska creates batter-free, quality games made from sustainable birch wood.

    Alternatively, opt for wooden puzzles that are sure to keep the kids entertained for hours. For your littlest ones, we love the Ever Earth peg puzzles. They are made from 100% FSC Beechwood, using sustainable resources, water-based paints, and recycled packaging.

    For older kids, the Book And Jiggsaw Puzzle is our top pick. Older kids will also love the Japanese Origami Kit for Kids from Books. It’s a great battery and plastic-free activity that also helps to teach your children about other cultures.

    Activities That Show Sustainable Use of Resources

    Within the home, try to practice activities that show a sustainable use of resources. Consider the below:

    • Recycle together — Create and label recycling bins to teach little ones how to separate their rubbish.
    • Pick up rubbish together — Head out into the neighbourhood with gloves and a bag, and clean up rubbish from the street. This is a great way to educate kids about littering and how waste ends up in our waterways.
    • Make DIY cleaning products — Kids love to scoop and pour, so why not create eco-friendly cleaning products together? Our collection of DIY recipes is a great way to get you started. All ingredients used are natural and safe for your little ones.

    Go Green With Your Little Ones

    When it comes to teaching your kids about sustainability, our philosophy is the earlier, the better!

    Whether you try just one of these activities or work your way through them all, you’re helping to ensure your children pick up good eco-friendly habits from an early age.

    You can explore our full range of sustainable toys, products, and activities for babies and kids online.