It’s a Greta Thunberg World: Here’s how to Get Kids into Social Change

Growing up is a tough thing to do, even if we all have to do it. Us adults often forget the growing pains, both physical and emotional, of learning to find our way in a world where at one point we all felt too small to matter. Kids care about things other than toys and games, and that’s probably why teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg has become such a hero to today’s youth. When Greta started to speak about climate and social change, everyone listened.

Parents and educators can help empower kids – they have a voice in this world too! Learning how to exercise that voice is just another part of growing up. Here are 5 simple ways that we can guide them in learning how to become an active part of social change, at home and at school:

Teach them that they do make choices that matter to the environment

We make thousands of choices every day, but many are so mundane we don’t think about them consciously. Simple choices that kids already have some control over—like what to eat, what to read, and what to wear—can have some big impact. For example, kids can choose to conserve energy in small ways like turning off the light when leaving a room or turning off the TV when they are finished watching. Every little action helps!

Commit to zero-waste

How can we throw away as little as possible? It’s easy to start small, with something like your child’s lunch. Juice boxes and sandwich bags can be replaced with a reusable drink bottle and container. Lunch bags and totes can be used to transport them. From there, it’s easy to practice a litterless lunch and find more ways to reduce waste.

Take recycling to the next level

Companies are recognizing the importance of working with students to make a difference to the environment. At school, there are recycling initiatives to take advantage of from Staples Canada that will help divert items from landfills including: School Ink Recycling, which collects ink cartridges; Battery Recycling done in partnership with Call2Recycle; Writing Instruments done in partnership with TerraCycle® to collect used pens, pencils, highlighters and more; and Electronics Recycling with partner eCycle Solutions take back end-of-life electronics. Is your school participating in recycling these items? If not, let them know about these green programs.


Learning to fundraise for a good cause will motivate students. From tree planting to adopting one of the local zoo animals, kids can make actual, tangible transactions that do small bits of good everywhere they go. And they might just learn a lesson in handling money, too!

By Joanne Sallay

March 29, 2021

Joanne Sallay is an education expert and President at Teachers on Call, an award-winning home tutoring service providing one-on-one instruction in all subjects and grades.