Many parents today are committed to “going green.” Millennials, especially, are willing to pay more for sustainable products, do the research to make informed choices, and support companies that share their values.
The growing consumer interest in sustainability and social responsibility can be overwhelming for small businesses. It’s ok to start with simple steps that are cost-effective and organic (no pun intended!) and gradually increase your commitment level.
Each of our ideas for going green begins with modeling – leading young people by your example – while also looking for opportunities for more conversation.
Model & require ecological responsibility
As camp and class directors, you’re experts when it comes to exposing kids to new things. When you model eco-friendly practices and discuss the values behind them, kids catch on. This may require adjustments on your part, and most certainly an ongoing awareness, but you’re used to young people challenging you to grow, right?
So where could your program use an upgrade?
Games & activities – Kids’ events and activities can be hotspots for waste and excess. How can you adjust your approach to be more honoring of the Earth? For example, if Minute-to-Win-It games play a role in your program’s entertainment or ice-breakers, have you discovered those that require the least waste?
Arts & crafts – For arts and crafts activities, how can you emphasize proper cleanup of supplies? Are you exploring avenues for avoiding waste? How can sustainable practices (such as using found objects) be incorporated into art-making itself? Are you challenging kids to come up with ideas to repurpose everything that can find new life in one way or another?
Food – Where do meals, snacks, and food prep fit into your program? How can you touch on conversations about healthy, nourishing choices? More sustainable products? More responsible disposal of waste, such as recycling or composting?
Nature – Where do your students interact with nature in your program, and how can you model a sense of respect and awe for the Earth? Can a wilderness hike inspire conversations about xeriscaping and regional gardening? Even a manicured playing field accentuates the horizon in spectacular ways – consider pointing out that awesome cloud formation or sunset when you circle up at the end of practice.
Model & require responsibility toward living beings
For many of you, nurturing the Earth’s most precious resource – humankind – is central to your program and squarely in your wheelhouse. Applying sustainability principles in this area can expand the concept of green in more tangible ways and drive home the why? of green habits.
Here are some potential options:
Personal wellness – Yes, we should promote the benefits of exercise and healthy food choices. But how often are these good choices rooted in the idea of treating yourself with kindness? Self-care is not about deprivation. Nor is it selfishness. Do kids think about talking to themselves kindly? Do they know how to listen to their bodies? Are they learning how to self-soothe?
Relational wellness – How can your students grow in recognizing and honoring the value of other living beings? Do they know how to listen to others? How to peacefully disagree? How can students grow in their esteem for authority figures in their lives? And what about animals? Can you help them notice the beauty of an insect? How can you remind them that animals should be treated with respect?
Community service – Many of you actively teach students to use their influence and resources to overtly “give back.” Young academics can tutor elementary-age students. Athletes can stay fit in the off-season by training for a triathlon to raise money for cancer research. Overnight camps can pair new or younger campers with peer mentors. How do you promote servant leadership in your program?
Global awareness – In your travels with students, even across town, you can help honor and humanize the differences and preferences of those they encounter. In kid-to-kid conversations about current events, you can help kids learn to dialogue with discretion and curiosity.
Each of these examples promotes a sustainable and socially responsible way of life, and the possibilities are endless! Tap into ways to expand your potential, and don’t be afraid to self-promote your commitment to going green. Your parent customers will thank you for it!