INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION
The primary motivation behind my climate advocacy has always been my children, but being a green-conscious father of two teenagers has challenged me in ways I never expected. When I started getting serious about climate I thought my kids would be inspired by my action and jump on the green wagon. Things haven’t exactly gone that way. Talking climate around the dinner table most often leads to a pair of eye-rolls and a quick exit.
Like many parents, my daily routine involves walking around the house turning lights off and badgering my kids to take out the recycling and compost. I feel like a broken record and most days I wonder if they get it or care at all. Occasionally, my 17-year-old son will open up and tell me he understands but finds the subject matter depressing. The doom and gloom message is a hard sell for teens. They find those years challenging enough on their own let alone adding a global pandemic and impending climate catastrophe to the mix.
However, I’m starting to see some of the seeds I’ve planted beginning to sprout. Here are five tips I’ve discovered to help your kids become green skiers.
TALK ABOUT IT
While they may act like they don’t want to hear it, they are probably absorbing more information from you than they are willing to let on. I try to balance the depressing news with positive news about technological breakthroughs and government actions. The more hopeful the conversation is, the more buy-in I usually get. Electric vehicles are always a good topic because they are fast and fun. On a good powder day when there are smiles on my kid’s faces, I let them know that this is what we are trying to protect.
GET THEM OUTSIDE
Exercising in the outdoors has been proven to have an incredibly positive effect on both our physical and mental health. I see it in my kids every single day. If they spend a full day inside in front of a screen, they tend to be lethargic and grumpy. Once they’re outside, they are totally different humans. It’s hard to build an appreciation for the value of the natural world if you are never out in it. While skiing a couple of years ago, I took my daughter to an ice cave that had opened up at the base of the Blackcomb Glacier. Suddenly this abstract idea of climate change became real for her; she saw the beauty of the ice firsthand and that made her want to protect it.
TRAVEL LESS, STAY LONGER
My kids like to go on vacation but they hate the travel. Every parent knows the phrase, ‘Are we there yet?’ With ski trips, there is so much gear and challenge, it seems like such a shame to go through all the hassle for just a few days of enjoyment. My suggestion is travel less often but stay longer. Less travel is better for the environment and staying longer gives the family more time to unwind and appreciate the mountains. The more positive the ski experience can be, the more likely the kids will enjoy it, and the more likely they will want to protect it when they get older. I’m also a big proponent of the educational aspects of travel. Immersing your family into another culture for a few weeks is priceless.
VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS
As skiers we need stuff – a lot of stuff! More and more outdoor and snow brands are waking up to the impact their products are having on the planet. Support these brands and buy products that have strong warranties and are built to last. This may mean paying a bit more up front, but a lot less in the long run. I have several items in my daily kit that I’ve been using for over 10 years. When your kids are young, try to pass along ski gear if you can. My kids wore nothing but hand-me-downs from friends until they were 10 years old.
ATTEND A CLIMATE MARCH
Most kids are afraid to stand out or say something controversial or potentially uncool. Historically this has made it tough for them to be vocal about things like climate change, but Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture movement has opened the conversation for many teens. I attended my first climate march in early 2019 and haven’t missed one since. The positivity and youthful energy at the marches is contagious and gives me a good boost of hope for the future. Events like these help flip the narrative from doom and gloom to hope and action, and allow the youth to unite and have a say in their future.
My fellow pro skier friend and climate advocate, Greg Hill, summed it up well by saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world. Staying true to your convictions and leading by example is probably the most powerful thing you can do.”
It may not seem like your kids are paying attention, but they are.