How children learn about sustainable consumption


The climate crisis and dwindling resources show: Our consumer behavior increasingly no longer only influences the economy, but above all also has an impact on our environment. How and on what we spend our money ultimately also determines what is produced and how. It is particularly important for children who are gaining their first experience with their own money to understand this connection and learn how to handle money sustainably.

What does conscious consumption mean?

Consuming consciously means using money sustainably and in an environmentally friendly way. Especially with regard to our children, this means consuming so consciously today that we also take into account the needs of future generations and that the ecological resilience of the earth is not further exceeded.

Surveys show, that after all, every second consumer states that they have changed their own consumer behavior for reasons of sustainability. To help children learn how to handle money in an environmentally conscious way, parents' consumer behavior can serve as a valuable role model.

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How do children learn how to manage money sustainably?

Our living habits and therefore also our buying behavior have an influence on our environment and can have a say in this, at least to a limited extent. Here you can find out what conscious consumption can look like and how to teach your children how to use money sustainably:

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1. Reflect on consumer behavior

In order for children to develop a sustainable approach to money, they must first understand their own consumer behavior and learn to question it at the same time. Keeping an eye on your own budget is just as important as learning how to use it wisely.

As a first step, it is therefore useful to find out together with your child what and how much money they are spending or can actually spend. The can help you with this Bling app. It offers parents and children practical and clear overviews of individual expenses and income.

Getting a detailed overview of your own consumer behavior in this way makes subsequent reflection immensely easier. So as soon as you know what the pocket money is mostly spent on, you can consider together which of these purchases made sense and which were less useful.

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2. Buy less, choose well - only buy what is necessary

Sustainable consumption not only means buying more consciously, but also, above all, buying less. Children should also learn which expenses are actually necessary and when they would rather save their money first.

Some wishes arise primarily from a spontaneous impulse and may be completely forgotten a few days later. However, distinguishing between natural and artificially generated needs, for example through advertising, is a major challenge, especially for children.

Creating wish lists is a good way to avoid impulse purchases. Children can keep their personal wish lists over a longer period of time and adjust them again and again. Priorities and urgencies can also be defined and reflected particularly clearly in this way. Instead of immediately giving in to all needs, children learn to consume much more consciously and manage their money sustainably.

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3. Buy used instead of new

Vintage and second-hand are in vogue and prove that not everything has to be bought directly from scratch. Giving goods a second chance saves resources, reduces waste, reduces our ecological footprint and thus significantly reduces the burden on our environment.

The options for buying second-hand things are diverse, both analog and digital. Rummaging at flea markets or second-hand stores is a lot of fun and kids can even learn to negotiate prices here at the same time.

In order for children to learn how to manage money sustainably, it is also important to teach them the value of goods. Even though it is often much more convenient to buy new things, new products are not automatically of higher quality. Even second-hand items are still flawless in most cases and so the appreciation for things can also increase again.

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4. Ensure good quality and durability

Good quality comes at a price. Even though high-quality products are therefore often more expensive, the investment pays off, especially in the long term. The use of high-quality raw materials and manufacturing processes results in particularly robust and therefore long-lasting products, of which we have at best for many years.

Many (especially electronic) products are being used for ever shorter periods of time. This wastes resources and pollutes our environment. By using things for as long as possible, we buy fewer new things at the same time. This is not only good for our wallet, but also protects the environment. The conscious selection of materials also plays an important role in this context. Natural and, above all, compostable raw materials such as wood produce less waste and pollute our ecosystems significantly less than plastic, for example.

These basic principles of an environmentally friendly circular economy, i.e. the ideal use of raw materials, can also be taught to children so that they can make sustainable purchasing decisions.

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5. Buy environmentally and socially responsible products

Sometimes you just can't avoid buying new products. That is also no problem, as long as you pay attention to the environmental and social compatibility of new purchases in addition to good quality.

Sustainable materials in production, supply chains and routes that are as short as possible and the payment of fair wages are sustainable criteria that should be taken into account when buying. Even though, depending on age, these topics are not yet easy for children to understand, it doesn't hurt to teach these values already.

Even with little or no financial resources of their own, children are already a relevant consumer group and can thus shape the buying behavior of their entire family. It therefore makes perfect sense for children and young people in particular to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly awareness and to shop and consume accordingly.

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6. Beware of discount campaigns

“Sales”, “Special Deals” and “Special Prices” — discounts attract everywhere, but usually do not contribute to sustainable and conscious consumption. Rather, these marketing strategies put us under pressure and tempt us to make impulse purchases.

Children and young people in particular are very receptive to targeted advertising. Sustainable use of money therefore also includes sensitizing them to advertising measures and discount campaigns and looking at them critically. Talk to your child about Intentions and goals of advertising, because this is how it learns to differentiate between its own needs and wishes suggested by advertising.

A deal is only good if we can actually use the product.

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Parents are important role models

Conscious consumption and sustainable use of money can positively influence our environment in many places. It is therefore important to sensitize children and young people to these topics.

As in many other areas of life, parents are also important role models when it comes to sustainable use of money. Your consumer behavior shapes and influences your child's purchasing decisions. So set a good example and work together to find out how and for what purpose you can use money in a particularly sustainable way in everyday life.

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