5 Ways to Encourage Teens to Take Care of the Environment

Get your teen involved in caring for the environment.
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Most teenagers are more concerned about being cool, rather than saving the planet. But, there are some simple and fun things you can do to get your teen interested in environmental issues. Here are five easy ways to encourage your teen to go green:

1. Start a Recycling Challenge

Encourage everyone in the family to participate in a recycling challenge. Find out exactly what kinds of goods are recyclable in your community first; most regional recycling efforts accept paper, plastic, glass and some metals, but not all accept foam products such as takeout food containers or coffee cups from fast food restaurants.

Teach your teen to look for the recycle symbol somewhere on the item they plan to discard. Set up a bin to collect the various recyclables (if your community does not provide one), Place a small collection bin in his room to make the collection effort even easier.

Each week, weigh or otherwise note the amount of recyclables collected. Weigh (or at least visually compare) the bags of garbage exiting in your home too, as a comparison. Your teen may be impressed with how much stuff can be recycled each week.

If your teen stops for snacks with friends after school, remind him to find a recycling bin for any recyclable items they use. Your teen may be able to influence others to start recycling too.

2. Compost Matters

Once your teen has a grip on what can be recycled and what goes in the trash, it's time to talk compost. If you have a garden – even a small flowerbed or a bunch of potted plants outside – compost can greatly benefit the plants.

Collect items such as fruit and vegetable scraps (other than citrus), coffee grounds and eggshells and save them in a lidded container under the sink. Layer the collected "green" matter in a compost pile or bin outside, alternating this fresh "green" stuff with "brown" decayed leaves, grass clippings and the like.

A chemical reaction occurs over time and breaks everything down, turning it into a nutrient-rich compost.

3. Encourage Reuse

Talk to your teen about healthy habits that benefit themselves and the environment. For instance, if your teens drinks a lot of bottled water, use refillable drinking bottles instead of buying cases of water. Buy a water filter or jugs that can be refilled at a healthy market. 

Encourage your teen to bring reusable bags to the store if she shops on her own, rather than using the store's paper or plastic bags. Set up a once-a-month thrift store outing to donate old clothes that are no longer needed. Encourage your teen to shop at thrift stores as well.

4. Conserve Resources

Conservation efforts are also important to the environment. Limit shower time or install a water-saving shower head in the teen's bathroom to cut down on water use.

Notice whenever he turns off lights in a room after leaving the room and compliment him for doing so. Create family challenges for lowering the electric bill or reducing the amount of water you’re using.

5. Talk about the Environment

If your teen usually gives an eyeroll when you talk about environmental issues, approach the discussions in ways that may matter more to him.

If he’s an animal lover, talk about how aquatic animals may choke on or become tangled up in plastic matter left in oceans and lakes. If he enjoys hiking, talk about the impact littering has on parks and hiking trails.

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