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It happens all the time when we’re out and about: one of the children finds an empty can, the remains of a plastic bag or broken glass in the grass, on the forest floor or by the side of the path. “That’s dangerous for the animals!” says Leon indignantly. He and the others can’t understand why people simply throw their garbage into the environment instead of taking it home with them. “Or in the garbage cans, there are plenty,” wonders Ayla.

What happens if we don’t take care of the environment

Today, environmental protection and sustainability are more important than ever. Climate change is now a reality and threatens the foundations and a future worth living for our children. Many of them have witnessed the flood disaster of recent weeks and want to know why it happened and what can be done about it. Climate change is an abstract word that they can hardly imagine. Floods that are directly related to the changing climate, on the other hand, are very vivid and tangible for the children.

What can we actively do to protect the climate?

“Lights out, lights out!” shouts Max at the end of a long day at nursery. He is the last to be picked up and checks again that the lights are switched off in every room. He knows that keeping the ceiling lights on all night only consumes electricity unnecessarily. When it comes to the water, everyone also makes sure that the taps are always turned off properly and that nothing drips or is wasted. Understanding interrelationships, conserving resources such as water or energy and, above all, taking action ourselves – this is how we can introduce children to the sustainable use of valuable resources.

Another option is to go out and collect waste. Questions quickly arise such as: Where does all the garbage come from? What happens to plastic packaging when we throw it in the garbage can? Are they incinerated, recycled, taken to another country? How do they become the tiny microplastics that we find in fish and seabirds? The children’s eyes widen when they find out that microplastics are also in their favorite shampoo.

Regional and seasonal shopping

At the farm daycare center, we want to bring agricultural production to life with all the senses. How are potatoes, lettuce or carrots grown, how do they get from the field to the plate? In Germany, we import over 60 percent of our vegetables and 80 percent of our fruit. This means a lot of energy for the often costly water supply and greenhouses on site, for refrigerated interim storage and long transportation routes by plane, ship or truck. All this pollutes the climate and the environment and ultimately contributes to global warming. But what we grow and harvest locally saves on transportation and long storage times – and often tastes better too!

Planting and harvesting together

“The salad is much crunchier and tastier than at home,” Emma notes over lunch. No wonder, since all varieties can ripen completely in our garden and don’t have to travel green or half-ripe. We plant and harvest together in the farm nursery garden. This way, the children know exactly when it is harvest time and what ripe vegetables look like. And you can taste the difference too.

Planting and harvesting together

Cook it yourself, without any additives

We also cook completely fresh several times a week – without any ready-made or convenience products, flavor enhancers or preservatives. We treat food with care, try to throw away as little as possible and think about how we can use the leftovers.

We treat all food with respect and prepare it as gently as possible. After all, vitamins and minerals should be preserved so that the children are well nourished all round. This not only teaches them to handle food with care, but also to eat a balanced diet. Children are also really keen to try things out when they harvest vegetables themselves and help prepare them!

Our menu adapts to the seasons so that we can use many products from the region. We almost always serve organic fruit and vegetables from suppliers around Munich, as well as meat and fish from species-appropriate animal husbandry.

lettuce - organic and local - grow your own regional lettuce

Organic or conventional?

But is organic really more sustainable? The clear answer is: Yes. Numerous studies have now proven this. Organic farming has a positive effect on our soils and biodiversity and helps to protect groundwater and surface water – conventional agriculture is unfortunately lagging behind.

Living soil and clean water are the basis for us and our children to live healthy lives in the long term. Organic farming also uses less fertilizer and can produce more energy-efficiently than conventional agriculture. The animals are usually better off too, as stricter standards apply to animal husbandry in terms of access and feed than in conventional farming.

Understanding why sustainability is important

When the children ask questions and receive profound answers, they get to know different points of view and can understand the connections in their environment. Appreciation for animals and plants can form the basis for sustainable action in everyday life, today and as adults.

Explaining sustainability to children and teaching them to live sustainably is not difficult at all if we adults show them how. Whether it’s separating waste, shopping consciously, throwing less away or cycling instead of driving: Many small steps ultimately contribute to change.

“You can never solve problems with the same mindset that created them.”
(Albert Einstein)

little child playing in the forest autumn leaves -

 

Photos by phuc-long, zbynek-burival, noah-buscher, janko-ferlic via unsplash