This Earth Month, plant the seeds for family climate action all year long. Three years ago I started a meetup for Austin parents around climate change. I was worried for my kid’s future – for all kids’ futures – and felt tired of watching helplessly from the sidelines.

What I didn’t expect was how climate activism would benefit my family physically and mentally – and it has come with a side of fun. At age 42, I hopped on my first bike since I was a teenager. Now family bike rides are a weekend ritual. I’ve made new parent friends who have shared their favorite learning-to-read apps, alongside their concerns about climate change. Best of all, my son has been by my side from the start: he’s seen me model civic engagement and has joined in on climate conversations and trash pick-ups.

Below are four family-centered ideas that you can customize to your kids’ ages and interests. What they share is an emphasis on fostering closeness, connection and community. Certainly, individual household actions like making recycled art with kids or planting a garden can develop crucial values around sustainability. But in my experience, something truly magical happens when we come together on climate change.

Busy parents, take note: you don’t have to do it all! Choose one item that fits your family’s priorities, budget and schedule. Try it out. Then be open to what comes next.

Clean up your act – Park and creek clean-ups like those organized by Keep Austin Beautiful and Austin Parks Foundation are an active, hands-on way to get outside and connect helpers as young as three years old with environmental action.

Try alternative transportation – Bike, bus, stroll and scooter. Transportation counts for 40% of Austin’s carbon emissions. Eliminating short trips by car not only lowers our footprint, it also provides exercise, bonding time and a greater sense of place. Commit to one family outing each week: pledge to bike to school on Fridays or to visit the neighborhood park by foot, scooter or wagon. If you have younger kids, invest in a bike seat, cargo bike or trailer, if your budget allows.

Amplify kids’ voices – and follow their lead. Empower your kids to speak out on what matters to them. Is your child passionate about protecting an endangered species or reducing plastic consumption? Connecting kids to specific actions can help alleviate worry and boost their sense of agency. Your job is to offer them the tools to express themselves and make an impact.

  Challenge them to organize a fundraiser at a local park, or partner with your kid’s school to raise funds as a class.

  Send your kids outside to create a message for neighbors with sidewalk chalk.

  Contact government leaders. Take a few minutes to prepare some talking points, then call your representative’s office together. Or send handwritten notes or drawings to a government official, then share on social media with the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.

Get outside – At one of our meetups, Families in Nature director Heather Kuhlken observed, “If kids and parents don’t love nature, why would they ever vote to save a park or a species?” Pure joy and presence in the outdoors can go a long way toward nurturing kids’ lifelong environmental values. Make outdoor fun a collective experience by joining a nature-based group. Check out the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA) for a great list of local groups and resources.


Eileen McGinnis is founder of the Parents’ Climate Community, an Austin-based meetup supporting caregivers, families and allies to act on climate change.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Austin Family Magazine

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this with your friends!