One of the challenges in our attempts to live greener, is how to involve GGG2, and explain the climate emergency to her in a way she can understand but which doesn’t totally terrify her!
For any parents of young children looking to engage them on this topic I would massively recommend ‘Greta and the Giants’ by Zöe Tucker, with amazing illustrations by Zoe Persico. It is an allegory based on the story of Greta Thunberg, and it is engaging and inspirational, whilst also finishing up with some practical steps small children can take to help tackle climate change themselves. It is also printed on 100% recycled paper, and a 3% donation of the cover price goes to Greenpeace for each copy sold.
We have also been reading ‘What a Waste’ by Jess French, which is designed for slightly older children – GGG1 has been enjoying it too – and is a non-fiction book about the realties of rubbish and recycling.
One of the suggestions in ‘Greta and the Giants’ is to find out as much as you can about climate change, and tell your friends and family about it, and this inspired GGG2 to take the book, which she absolutely loves, into school, where her Reception teacher read it to the class at carpet time. She was also very enthusiastic about coming along with me to an event organised by a local climate activist @conscious_ldn (her Instagram handle) for under 10s. The event was held at our local Toy Library – toy libraries themselves are an excellent way of parents of young children being climate conscious as they allow children to experience a whole pile of different toys without ultimately adding to landfill – and it allowed young children to learn about things like recyclable materials, and the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, and also feed back their opinions and ideas to our local MP.
GGG2 is now totally on it with reminding us all to turn lights off, with the accusation “You are a climate changer” if anyone forgets, and she is very keen to get out into the garden and start planting seeds and ‘making habitats’. Shamingly, the windy, rainy weather has made me much less keen on this, but it is definitely something I will be doing with her now the evenings are getting lighter and (hopefully, soon) a bit warmer. She has also added the phrase ‘what would Greta do?’ to our family’s vocabulary when we are talking about any activity that might impact on climate change.
I am also proud that we managed a carbon neutral World Book Day this year. There is often so much pressure around these events, that it is very easy to resort to the magic fix-all solution of Amazon Prime, and I have done so myself many times. Thankfully this year GGG1 wanted to be a character from Robin Stevens’ lovely ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ series, so she needed to have a vaguely 1930s look, which was relatively easy to do with a rifle through our wardrobes, and a pair of brogues borrowed from a friend. She did buy a ‘detective notebook’ but as she writes lots of lists and stories (she is her mother’s daughter, after all!), so it will definitely be used up.
When we were at my parents’ in February half term, GGG2 was playing with a soft toy tiger they have for the grandchildren, and wearing a long sleeved blue t-shirt as she did so. Something pinged in my brain, and I remembered that she also has a purple pinafore dress, and so we were nearly there with a Sophie costume from ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr. All we needed was some harlequin tights…Luckily GGG2 had an old pair of stained cream tights, so I turned these inside out, and got to work with a couple of GGG1’s Sharpies, and hey presto, we had Sophie tights, and two WBD outfits with no waste or plastic.
I thought of it too late this year, but I am going to suggest that we set up a costume swapping network at school, so that children’s old/outgrown fancy dress costumes or accessories can be pooled and then given or loaned to other families who need them for WBD or a school play. Hopefully that is a way of accepting that not everyone is a dab hand with a sewing machine (I’m not!), or amazingly creative with face paints/card/scissors etc (I’m not!) but that there are alternatives to spending lots of money on costumes which might only get a couple of wears before they are discarded.
So, they are my initial thoughts on how to involve a 5 year old in efforts to become greener. Basically, if you do one thing, buy the Greta and the Giants book!