Forum: To inculcate environmental consciousness in kids, target parents

Recycling bin with new recycling bin label and Blue Recycling Truck below Blk 524A Tampines Central 7 on Aug 29, 2019.
Recycling bin with new recycling bin label and Blue Recycling Truck below Blk 524A Tampines Central 7 on Aug 29, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

It is heartening to see Singapore's efforts to increase students' participation in environmental conservation efforts through school programmes.

As part of the Zero Waste Masterplan launched this year, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and the National Environment Agency have collaborated with schools to raise awareness of waste reduction through educational materials.

Given our increasing generation of solid waste, these steps to inculcate green habits in children are essential in nurturing environmentally conscious citizens for the future.

However, there are other avenues to nurture environmental consciousness among the young.

I would like to focus on parents as role models in taking the lead in environmentally responsible behaviour.

For example, the environmental programmes in schools teach children the 3Rs in environmental sustainability - reduce, reuse and recycle.

However, if parents were to encourage the opposite behaviours at home, such as wasting food or not recycling waste, schools' efforts simply become futile. Hence, I urge that more focus be placed in ensuring parents practise good environmental habits at home.

One way is through programmes that reward families which practise the 3Rs at home.

Green workshops can also be held for parents at community centres to educate them on environmental issues and show them how to practise sustainability.

While calling for more climate change education in schools is commendable, it is not enough. We need to couple it with initiatives targeting parents to ensure that children grow into environmentally conscious citizens.

Bryan Jude Toh Wei Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2019, with the headline 'To inculcate environmental consciousness in kids, target parents'. Print Edition | Subscribe