Helping Children Save the Environment by Sunaina Narang

There has been much concern over the air pollution in our capital city lately- the situation peaking over Diwali. Air monitoring agencies declared the Air Quality Index (AQI) to be at the “severe” level:  AQI was recorded at 494 over Diwali. An AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. Like all parents in this country, I was truly concerned about the health of my child. With schools closing and outdoor sports coming to a halt life has come to a virtual standstill. Children being huddled to school in masks is not a sight I ever imagined I’d be seeing in my lifetime. A right to breathe is a very basic right for every human being and we are currently filling our lungs with toxins. But instead of groaning and complaining and blaming the government for its inaction, let’s take a look at what we can do to leave the Earth a better place for our children.

It all begins with the kids as they are the future generation. Building awareness in children about saving the environment is the first step in tackling the problem. Schools have an important role to play in this area. A few years ago when there were rising concerns about the pollution over Diwali children were encouraged in schools to stop the use of crackers. Children visited homes and urged people to stop the use of crackers. There was a large drive to ban crackers and it did make a difference. Pollution levels dipped that year. While schools play an important role in framing young minds the most important lessons begin at home. Parents should help to sensitize kids about preserving the environment and saving plant and animal life.

So what can we do as parents? Where do we begin? It all depends on the age of your kids. If you have a 4 year old at home stories with themes of saving the environment would make an impact. If the child is older he/she can be spoken to as an adult and concerns can be shared.

Here are just a few things if followed earnestly can make a huge difference:

  • Waste management: We unthinkingly litter the streets, clog drains and never give a thought about chucking garbage. Children must be encouraged to always use bins; to separate biodegradables from plastics; and should be encouraged as much as possible to stop using plastic altogether; children should also be encouraged to recycle as much as possible. Create a compost heap in your garden or use a compost bin. This helps recycle food waste and other biodegradable materials.
  • When going shopping, make children carry own eco-bags and say no to plastic bags as much as possible.
  • Air pollution: As discussed crackers are the worst pollutants. We must make kids aware of the damage it does to plant and animal life (birds fly aware in hoards at the burst of crackers). Not to mention the smoke which cause the worst damage. Parents must encourage diyas instead of crackers.
  • We must encourage kids to save the Earth’s natural resources – never waste water most importantly. We brush our teeth and soap ourselves while letting the water run. Kids must be taught to switch off the tap.
  • Encourage kids to join as many tree planting trips as possible
  •  If possible, try carpooling to school. Making kids aware of the damage car emissions do to the environment will help in reducing the use of the car
  • Encourage kids to walk or cycle. These are not just great alternatives to driving, they are also great exercise
  • Teach kids to use public transport, when you can, for everyday travel
  • Send your drinking bottles, paper, used oil, old batteries and used tires to a depot for recycling or safe disposal; all these very cause serious pollution. Kids can take an active in separating items for recycling
  • Make kids aware that pouring chemicals and waste oil on to the ground or into drains leading to bodies of water can do serious damage

These are a few simple steps which can easily be incorporated into our daily lives. If we all pool in together it will make a difference to the environment. And will leave the Earth a better place for our children. Let’s get to it!