Shop will redirect you to Sustained Fun

Green living lessons to teach your kids

Here are five simple lessons about sustainable living to impart to your children.

Lesson #1: Use the “Buyerarchy of Needs”

Buyerachy of needs

The shops are full of tempting products, but our shopping habits mean we’re consuming more resources than the earth can produce sustainably. Teach your children about illustrator Sarah Lazarovic’s “Buyerarchy of Needs”* as it encourages using your creativity and thriftiness before making a purchase.

Instead of buying something, first think if you have a similar item that can be used or could be borrowed? The chances are that someone in your neighbourhood has what you’re looking for. Then think about swapping. Can your child swap a toy they no longer play with for a friend’s book they no longer read? Next, consider buying secondhand. Finally, there are lots of things we can learn to make – especially baking! Learning to bake teaches a lifelong skill and reduces packaging, saves money, and does not use palm oil (see point 5).

If all else fails, buy it. Stick the Buyerarchy of Needs pyramid to your fridge and direct the kids to it with the question, “Do you really need to buy this or is there another way?”

Lesson #2: Think about product lifecycles

When your children are old enough to earn pocket money to spend, encourage them to consider the lifecycle of what they buy. What will happen to a toy or book once they’ve grown out of it? Is it good enough quality to be passed on to another child or will it break and have to go straight to landfill? This will help them make informed decisions when they purchase new items.

Lesson #3: Take three for the sea

Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Empower your children to make a difference by simply picking up litter. By creating a new family tradition of picking up three pieces of litter every time you visit the beach, you can show your children that a small effort on the part of everyone adds up to big results. You can even gamify your litter collection by using the Litterati app to join a global community of litter pick-ups.

Colourful plastic Beach rubbish lying on a white surface.


Lesson #4: Bike or walk instead

Do you know what it costs to run your car per kilometre? The IRD estimates it costs $0.76 per km which means a 4km round trip to school twice a day costs over $1200 per year! Get a jar and every time the kids walk or bike to school let the kids put money in it. Save up for a treat – it’s enough for a holiday. Kids will love watching the savings grow. Walking or biking not only saves money and reduces your carbon footprint, it also fosters community and friendship with other walkers. If your kids are too young to walk by themselves, start a walking group with other parents. 

Lesson #5: Become palm oil-wise

Many of the wild animals we love could become extinct in our children’s lifetimes and illegal logging for palm oil plantations threatens endangered animals such as the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Asian rhino and elephant. Palm oil can be found in more than half of all supermarket products, but our shopping choices can make a difference.

Take a trip to your local zoo (a great use of the money saved from walking to school!) to learn more about palm oil. Then download Auckland Zoo’s wallet guide** to learn about how palm oil is listed in ingredients and find alternative products next time you’re shopping. 


* - this graphic is free to use.



This article was originally written in 2019 by The Rubbish Whisperer.

Leave a comment