Protecting the planet: Little things your family can do to help the environment

Confronting the truth about climate change can seem like a massive subject for your kids to take on board. But if you explain it to them on a level they can relate to, it can become less daunting. Help them feel like little changes they make will actually make a difference.

When children are made aware of the ways in which they can care for their environment, they can be empowered to help start building a better world.

Meet Bella Lack, a young environmental activist and youth ambassador for the Born Free Foundation.

Like Autumn, she doesn’t let anything hold her back when it comes to the great outdoors. She says: “It’s a perspective that nature gives humanity because everyone says that we need to protect the world.But the Earth is going to be fine – what we’re really doing is protecting ourselves. So in a way, environmentalism is a form of humanitarianism.”

So what are our top tips on starting those small conversations that have the potential to create a big change?

Begin on their level

You can start by opening your kids’ eyes to ways in their daily life that they can start helping the planet.

It can be easy to get kids involved in sorting out the trash into different recycling bins. But it’s important that they understand why they are doing it. Explain that anything in general waste will go to landfill and is harmful for the planet.

A great way to illustrate this is to show them an image of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This can really bring home to them the reality of single-use plastics. This gives them an incentive to work out what they can put in the recycle bin and try to cut down on using anything they can’t.

Photograph of Bella Lack, an environmental activist
“It’s a perspective that nature gives humanity because everyone says that we need to protect the world. But the earth is going to be fine – what we’re really doing is protecting ourselves. So in a way, environmentalism is a form of humanitarianism.” Bella Lack

Bella reveals: “At the beginning, what I did was really local, and I did a lot of work in school. Tell your kids to make changes, and then go into school, talk to their friends, start campaigns, petitions. The process of spreading those messages will make changes, because it’s when it’s upscaled from the individual to the community, that’s when change will happen. It’s the younger generation who are actually leading the movement and driving the passion behind environmentalism.”

Recycling detectives is a great game. Get kids to look out for the recycling symbol on different household items. And if they don’t have one, set them a mission to look into finding a renewable alternative.

Another easy concept for kids to grasp is that cutting down on energy use helps reduce air pollution. If you put them in charge of reducing your household carbon emissions, you will soon find them reminding you to turn the lights off when you leave a room.

Try using LEGO® bricks to illustrate how this will help the planet, by drawing attention to all the living things in their builds. There are so many trees and plants in the Heartlake City sets, and the world would not look so bright if you took them away.

Ultimately, honesty is the best policy. As Bella says: “Parents should be able to talk about what’s happening in the news with kids. And yes, maybe cut out some of the biggest stuff, but don’t necessarily reduce everything because I think kids understand the reality. Talk about the stories of people on the frontlines and kids will want to know and will care and will probably want to do something.”

The great outdoors

This can be a great opportunity to turn your children’s attention to nature. If you have an outdoor space, encourage them to get involved with helping to grow some plants that will contribute to cleaner air.

Bella Lack, an environmental activist
Bella Lack, an environmental activist

Autumn grows pumpkins and apples on her new LEGO Friends house and you can try growing your own food too. Tomatoes and strawberries are great starter foods for any budding gardeners.

Starting simple can offer kids a faster result to keep them feeling inspired. Wildflower seeds are inexpensive and can be quick and easy to grow. Rewilding a pot or corner of your garden can be a basic and motivating way to get kids interested in gardening. These kinds of plants will attract bees and butterflies, and you can chat about how important these creatures are to our planet because of their role in pollination.

“What nature is there to love for the kids who live in cities? We should be talking about rewilding, about having biodiversity so that kids want to get outdoors.” – Bella Lack

Bella says: “People say, ‘Children are disconnected from nature, they’re on their devices too much.’ But what nature is there to love for the kids who live in cities? We should be talking about rewilding, about having biodiversity so that kids want to get outdoors.”

You can be birdwatchers too, just like Autumn. Put out a bird feeder in your garden or balcony and log the birds you spot.

Building a bug hotel is another fantastic way to help minibeasts thrive in your own microenvironment. If your child loves building LEGO sets, they can transfer those skills to making a place outdoors for insects to live. Collect things they find at the park or on walks such as twigs, fir cones, dried grass and bits of tree bark. Turn an old flowerpot on its side and encourage your kids to stack the things they have found inside, for a quick and easy minibeast motel.
While you are out and about on walks, picking up litter can be a really rewarding way to make your children feel like they are doing their bit to clean up the planet. It’s important to keep safe so come prepared with gloves and refuse sacks and, if you can, invest in a litter picker.

You can sort the trash for recycling and, if you are able to, take it directly to your local recycling center. Seeing the bag fill up and their environment become cleaner and greener gives your child tangible evidence that what they have done has really made a difference.

LEGO Friends character Autumn
Meet Autumn from LEGO Friends, she is a free spirit who is at her happiest when she’s outdoors.

Renewable energy

As your kids learn how valuable it is to reduce waste, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of sustainability. If they have something that can be used over and over again, that is much better for the planet than something that needs replacing. LEGO sets can be rebuilt again and again in all kinds of different ways. Get your children on board by suggesting you renovate a LEGO Friends house, changing it around or adding new rooms until it feels like a whole new set.

Planting the seeds of conservation in simple ways during their early years lays the foundation of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. You can build on this together as a family as they get older.

Bella reveals: “My granny used to have this LEGO set, and I remember whenever we went to her house, the first thing me and my brother would do is run over, pull out the bricks and just build farms and villages for ages.”

At the LEGO Group, we are already building our way to a more sustainable future. Since 2018, we have been making all our leaves, plants and bushes from plant-based plastic that comes from Brazilian sugar cane. And now, 150 of our LEGO elements are made from this material, including many LEGO Friends accessories. We are already working on a brick made from recycled plastic bottles and by 2030, we aim to make all our products from sustainable materials.

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