A decade ago, climate change might have seemed like a distant threat we read about in newspapers or heard about on the news. But, more recently, we’ve seen it happening before our eyes – from dramatic storms, floods and heatwaves, to Australian bushfires, wildfires across Europe and hurricanes in the US, these extreme weather events mean it’s impossible to ignore the climate emergency.
By now, we all understand the importance of doing our bit to help prevent climate change – whether that’s carrying reusable shopping bags, recycling, or reducing your family’s energy consumption. That’s why we’re now printing all our new custom cards on polylactic acid (PLA), which is a sustainable plastic substitute.
Nevertheless, it’s difficult to reassure children when they can already see the impact of the climate crisis, especially as it’s a problem that can’t be easily solved. However, there are a few things you can do to help them manage their fears.
What is climate anxiety?
If your child is worried about climate change they could be scared about future disasters, such as floods or storms. They might also feel anxious about the impact this could have on their future life, such as their career or plans to start a family. Some young people also feel that they have been let down by previous generations and now have to shoulder the responsibility for averting climate disaster.
Research from the University of Bath found that increasing numbers of children and young people are suffering from eco anxiety. According to their research, 59% of young people are very or extremely worried, and 84% are moderately worried about climate change, while over 50% feel sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless and guilty.
If you think that your child could be affected by climate anxiety, the following tips might help to alleviate some of their worries and remind them of the ways your family can be part of the solution.
How to talk to children about climate change
Even young children will have heard about the impact of climate change, and probably have some fears or concerns. Let your child know that they can ask you questions, and even if you don’t know all the answers, you’ll do your best to find out the information they need.
Don’t dismiss their fears
The impact of climate change is scary, so resist the temptation to tell your child not to worry. Instead, reassure them that it’s normal to feel worried and work together to decide on some positive steps that you can take as a family. Perhaps you could consider walking or cycling instead of driving to school, composting your food waste, shopping in refill stores, or having one meat-free day each week. Review your progress over time so that your child can see how these everyday changes can make a big difference.
Thanks to Greta Thunberg, many children and teenagers have already taken part in school strikes and climate change protests, but there are lots of other ways to get involved. For example, they could take part in community litter picks or beach cleans, help to organise school events or initiatives, join community campaigns, or even write to their MP. All of these actions can help children feel that they have some control and are taking positive action.
“I’m really keen to do what I can towards saving the planet, especially as I’m now seeing the effects of climate change through the weather, how it’s contributing to the extinction of animals, and damaging the rainforest. These are some of the things I do on a daily basis: I don’t use single-use plastic, and take my reusable tumbler with me when visiting coffee shops for my hot chocolate. I also use my metal water bottle and take it everywhere I go. At school, we do regular litter picking, which I always volunteer to help with as I can instantly see how this is helping my local environment. I also try to avoid printing as this can often lead to wastage of paper. Every little thing we can do, and every change we make in our daily lives, really does help to save our planet.”
Saira, age 9
Reduce plastic waste with eco-friendly cards
In 2021, we surveyed 3,000 UK and US kids aged 6-15 and found that 78% would prefer an eco-friendly bank card, and would actively choose this over a plastic one. Furthermore, protecting the rainforest was seen as the most important environmental issue, followed by reducing plastic waste and planting new trees.
So, to celebrate Earth Day, we're proud to announce that all of our new custom cards will now be printed on polylactic acid (PLA), which is a sustainable plastic substitute made with renewable bio-sourced resources, such as corn. It’s non-petroleum based, and non-toxic if incinerated.
Our eco-friendly cards can help to avoid plastic waste – when it’s time to dispose of your card you simply need to cut out the chip and magnetic strip, cut it into pieces to protect your personal details, then put it in your standard rubbish bin or food waste bin.
We all have a tendency to focus on negative news stories, so it can really help to remind your child of the different ways that nature can restore and renew through the seasons. Whether you take regular walks in a local park or wood, join local conservation projects, grow outdoor plants that attract bees and butterflies, or even take care of a houseplant, this can all remind your child that change is possible – and they can still have a bright future.
Make time to relax
If you’re worried that your child or teenager is spending too much time focusing on news reports that make them feel stressed or anxious, it could be a good opportunity to focus on various ways to support their mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep, limiting screen time, making time for hobbies or relaxing activities, or simply catching up with friends can help them to feel calmer and more in control.