Helping Children Become Climate-Aware Through Their Everyday Books and Toys

WRITTEN BY Bronagh Loughlin

March 12, 2023

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Helping Children Become Climate-Aware Through Their Everyday Books and Toys

Bronagh Loughlin

12 Mar, 2023

Supporting children to care about the planet from a young age is an integral part of our journey to building a prosperous and sustainable future. Some would argue children shouldn’t become climate-aware until they reach their teenage years. Meanwhile, others urge, we must educate the youngest members of our society as soon as we can. 

It is a touchy subject as parents do not want to instill fear into their children. On the flip side, children need to grow up with some level of understanding concerning the environmental issues we are facing. In saying that, this kind of education has to be carried out in a way that entirely suits kids. 

What better way to teach youngsters about the environment than through the books they are already reading and the toys they are already playing with? Lots of children’s brands recognise the importance of helping children become climate-aware and agree that it must be done in a fun and accessible manner. As a result, they have brought out various collections that allow children to learn while doing what they love. 

Mr Men introduces a new character in the beloved children’s series, Little Miss Waste Less

A collaboration between the green cleaning brand, Ecover, and Mr. Men has led to the birth of the latest Mr. Men character, Little Miss Waste Less! The aim of the Little Miss Waste Less character and the short book is to inspire future generations to be more conscious about waste. Additionally, to practice positive eco-friendly habits like visiting refill stations. 

The book was created by the son of the original creator, Adam Hargreaves, and the story includes all the familiar and much-loved Little Miss and Mr. Men characters. Throughout the book, these characters learn from Little Miss Waste Less on how to reduce their plastic waste by reusing and refilling. Little Miss Waste Less has a blue body and striking green ponytail. 

The idea behind the illustration was to represent the Earth. It was also designed to assist parents with teaching their children about how to be kinder to the natural world. Research has uncovered parents and caregivers are increasingly concerned about being eco-conscious. Transmitting their guiding principles and values ultimately passes on their beliefs to their children as to what is acceptable. 

Ultimately, if children witness their role models’ true concern regarding or making efforts towards reusing, reducing, and recycling, they are more likely to follow suit. The team at Mr. Men recognised this and strongly believe in the power of storytelling to drive behaviour change. Mr. Men are not the only brand working to make children more climate-aware in an accessible and exciting format. 

Barbie moves beyond slumber parties and prom night dolls with an Eco-Leadership Team collection

Barbie is another brand that has recognised the importance of talking about climate change and sustainability through its products. When children play with dolls like barbies, they enter an exciting world of pure imagination. They can become everything they want. Their Eco-Leadership Team collection means that children can now explore a range of sustainability careers designed to protect nature and ignite change. 

The set includes four career dolls including:

  • The inspiring Conservation Scientist with binoculars and a notebook.
  • Innovative Renewable Energy Engineer with a safety vest, hard hat, tablet, and of course, a solar panel.
  • The ever-popular role in today’s climate that is constantly being advertised for on LinkedIn, is Chief Sustainability Officer and she is equipped with her laptop and smartphone.
  • Barbie didn’t forget about the activists, either, who do such important work. This set includes the Environmental Advocate, who, of course, has her sign and camera to make a real impact and ensure voices are heard! 

All of the barbies in the set work to highlight career fields whereby women are also underrepresented. That’s not all; the set of four dolls is also made from recycled plastic. Each of the women is dressed in clothing made from recycled fabric too, and are all certified CarbonNeutral products. 

Playmobil demonstrates the importance of caring for animals and the environment through its Wiltopia Collection

Another beloved children’s toy brand that has also worked sustainability into its collections to help children realise the importance of caring for the natural world is Playmobil. They released their Wiltopia product range on World Environment Day last year. 

The aim behind the collection was to teach children about animals, nature, and the planet, as well as the importance of sustainability. Like most brands, they wanted to deliver this education in a fun way, reframing from simply sharing dry facts. It is their first product range to be made from more than 80 per cent sustainable materials. 

Bio-based plastics have also been used as well as discarded plastics. Wiltopia is all about growing up on a planet whereby nature and animals are protected and respected. To achieve this vision, Playmobil felt it was vital that children were educated about these issues. After all, how can they love, protect, and value what they do not know? 

The sets include animals from across the globe and provide tonnes of playing and collecting fun, added with some extra knowledge. As well as the array of flexible animal figures, every set contains accessories to open up creative role-play and a collectable animal card which features intriguing facts about that specific animal species. The QR code on the card also opens a door to even more content. 

There is also an audio clip with child-friendly information on every card and a choice to project it directly into your home using the AR feature included in the web app. Ultimately, the Wiltopia collection raises and expands the fascination for our blue planet. It shares knowledge about climate change in the most accessible way and shows how vital animals and the environment are for our continued survival. 

Final thoughts

No doubt whether children should be taught about climate change at a young age will continue to spark debate and strong opinions. It’s understandable from both sides. In one sense, hearing about the environmental problems we are facing could spark fear. On the other hand, not knowing could cause kids to grow up and not have the environmental values we are desperate to instill in the population. 

The above resources offer a healthy medium as children can learn in the most accessible and positive way possible. They do what they do best – read and engage in imaginative play – while learning essential values that will help them grow up to care for our planet and become changemakers themselves in the future. The climate crisis is an overwhelming topic, but helping kids to understand the issues we face in a healthy way means empowering them to become climate superheroes.

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