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Sustainable living

David de Rothschild’s 5 sustainable activities for kids

5 minute read

Right now, Hyundai Motor Company is committed to building a world that is fit for Generation One, the first generation to live in an emissions-free world. But what does this mean and how can we all contribute to this vision? We turn to world-renowned eco-explorer, environmental activist, and Hyundai Motor Company IONIQ ambassador David de Rothschild to get his perspective on what we – with the help of our children – can do to ensure an emissions-free future.

David de Rothschild’s environmental advocacy has helped him make a name for himself as a modern-day eco-explorer. On the occasion of International Beat Plastic Pollution Day in June, we asked David to share tips on how to educate the next generation about environmental protection and sustainability. He also gave us five fun day-to-day activities parents can do with their kids to encourage them to look after our planet.

A woman and a child working as a team to pick up waste. The woman is opening up a big plastic basket bag for the child, who is holding a plastic bottle.

What can children teach us about our planet and the importance of looking after it?

“Children can teach us to look at the world through fresh eyes, to give us that unencumbered perspective,” says David de Rothschild. “My daughters look at the world in a much more puristic, curious, and energized way. There seems to be a sense of awareness, awe, and wonder about the way they see and perceive nature and their surroundings that we adults, with time, tend to lose.”

The eco-explorer asks if you can remember the last time you lived in the moment and jumped into muddy puddles, looked at a bird with absolute awe and wonder, or slowed down to look at the growth in the cracks in the pavement. Having this “children-taught” awareness will make it possible for us to enact immediate change and teach the next generations how to live sustainably.

Image of a woman and a man riding bikes through the tall, golden grass along an overcast beach.
A close-up picture – taken through the rich-green leaves of a plant – of a smiling blonde and blue-eyed girl toddler reaching toward a leaf.

Children can teach us to look at the world through fresh eyes. – DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD

From your own experience, how can we best educate the next generation about environmental protection?

“Luckily, I think the next generation is already very wise to environmental narratives,” says David. This connection might be from our ability to see the planet like never before through mobile devices and educational content. The key is to continue this education and familiarize the children with nature and our planet.

Books are a great way to educate and create awareness. When you look at children's books, they are often anchored in nature, building a connection to animals and nature. We can use this sense of awe to incite curiosity about the real world. Then, we should work on building a sense of connection through outdoor activities. Right now, a lot of schoolchildren are becoming increasingly absorbed with their digital devices. We need to surround them with nature so that they can be part of it and learn to feel it.

David believes that once you feel it, you can understand it. Once you understand it, you can start to respect it. And once you respect it, you will protect it.

Inside a large greenhouse, four 9-year-old children from Europe, Latin America, and Africa are looking at a plant.

5 sustainable activities for parents to do with their kids

If our objective is to educate and familiarize our children with nature and the world around us, then the best lesson is to simply get outside and explore the (little) wonders of the world. The easiest sustainable activities can take place around your home, or even inside it.

1. Draw attention to nature.
Go outside and let your child lead you to whatever draws their attention. If it is a plant or a bug, help your child describe it – whether it's dark or light green, fast or slow. You can teach the child how to treat the plant or insect with respect. Maybe you have a book or an app in which you can look it up and call it by name. Or you might want to give it a pet name for fun.

2. Plant a seed
Grow and care for a plant from a seed. According to David, helping children understand the soil cycle, the light cycle, the water cycle, the nutrient cycle, and the whole process of growing a plant, eating it, and then composting it, is powerful.

A picture of a child's hands holding a sprout which is about to be planted in the garden.

3. Go on a treasure hunt
Treasure hunts are another of David de Rothschild's favorites. Walking along a beach or through the woods and collecting driftwood or fun-shaped rocks or other little bits or bobs can also be an adventure.

4. Make art
Get creative and make art out of the collected treasure. When at home, David and his kids take the collected treasures and paint them, stick them together, or build things with them.

5. Keep nature alive
Talking about or going online together to research the plants, insects, or nature markers that you experienced while outdoors builds a powerful connection. Together you can keep a journal on it – online, in a book, or with drawings.

Children’s hands patting the soil around the newly planted sprout in a raised-bed garden.

Creating that sense of wonder and awe is really, really important. – DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD

“Creating that sense of wonder and awe is really, really important,” says David. “Taking time away from digital screens in nature – sitting, relaxing, trying to absorb that overwhelming energy of nature – is something kids get a lot of benefit out of, even if they don't realize it. Just that fresh air, that time in a park, that time somewhere where it's not digitized but is naturalized, is really important.” In the end, David believes, if we can teach our kids to feel it, they will protect it.

Picture of a man holding a little blonde girl’s hand while standing on a rock, looking out at the rugged mountainous terrain in front of them.

Hyundai Motor Company recognizes the importance of sustainability, especially considering Generation One, and helps environmental activists like David de Rothschild raise awareness and inspire. Keep informed of Hyundai Motor Company’s environment-focused projects and more practical tips by David de Rothschild by following @hyundai on Instagram.


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