Plastic Ban: Teaching our Children About the Environment

(pssst consider this a shameless plug for the LH totes!)

I really do love our community and the initiatives being made to make Hoboken family-focused. Also, as a therapist, I am a huge fan of experiential and community-based learning. Which brings me to my mommy pro-tip: How to use events/changes in your community to promote social and academic skills including: reasoning, perspective taking, self-awareness, empathy, and social awareness.

Hoboken banning plastic bags is a great initiative that we can use to teach our children. If you have a three or four-year-old, I am sure that you live in a pretty steady stream of “why?” Sometimes, you can answer these questions, and other times you feel like you are living with Aristotle (this question seems really deep…is there even an answer for this? Alexa?) With our children, of all ages, we can encourage critical thinking skills, as well as flexible thinking skills, by pausing and asking them what they think before answering why. Encouraging them to guess based on things they see in front of them, or information they already know. Teaching them to be avid social observers!

Show them the articles or Facebook posts about Hoboken banning plastic bags and ask them why they think this decision was made. Even if the response is “I don’t know” it’s an amazing time to use technology as a teaching tool. Look up what plastic bags do to the environment. One fact alone could really make a child think. For example, they take YEARS to decompose. Discuss what your family could do to make a positive impact. Where do we commonly use plastic bags? What happens if you do not have a plastic bag? What are some alternatives? Have your child help you research reusable bags. You can also use this as a pretend play opportunity. Role play using reusable bags in a pretend grocery store. Have little ones make signs (yay! snow/cold day art project!) to help you remember to bring your reusable bags with you to the store. You can also use this as a pretend play opportunity. Because, I will not so proudly admit I forget mine!

This lesson can lead to lots of opportunities to discuss social responsibilities, and as always there’s a book for that -- What If Everybody Did That? By: Ellen Javernick. It’s a great book that highlights how each person’s small, everyday choices have consequences, whatever they may be. It’s great for pointing out the importance of following rules in the community, and also making responsible choices when we can! Every little act of kindness makes a difference! By opening up discussions with our children about what is going on in our community, and encouraging them to stop, think, and participate we are engaging them in deep learning! The type that sticks with us!


Sarah Ott lives in Hoboken with her husband and daughter after relocating from San Diego, California. She is a Speech-Language Pathologist with a passion for self-care, meditation, creative teaching, a new-found-love for exercise, sessional oils, and crockpot creations. She shares her journey as a new mom with lots of SLP tips on her blog @balancingmom_me