CBeebies Maddie Moate: how to talk to your kids about saving the planet without worrying them
TV presenter, YouTuber and children's author, Maddie Moate, explains how to help young children learn about sustainability without making them fearful
A popular and familiar face to many children, Maddie Moate is a well-known television presenter, podcaster, YouTuber and children's author. You may recognise her from her CBeebies show 'Maddie's Do You Know' where she uncovers cool inventions and basic, everyday objects and simply shows us how they're made.
She also hosts 'Maddie, the Zoo and You' where viewers can learn how to keep healthy, understand how to take care of our bodies and discover this all through the world of animals.
Maddie’s educational approach and friendly persona has kept young children inspired, developing and learning new things. She is also currently working with baby skincare brand Child's Farm on a campaign to promote their sustainable hair and body wash bars.
Maddie is keen that families don’t shy away from talking about some of the hard truths and topics regarding sustainability and our changing climate. But they’re not easy conversations. Here she shares her advice and tips with MadeForMums on how to approach these subjects mindfully and discuss them in an age-appropriate way with ideas for solutions.
So how and when do we talk to our children?
"Talking to young children about science and the planet is about being mindful and how kind we are to our planet. On the shows I've made with Cbeebies, we talk about sustainability from a very positive and proactive point of view for children who are as young as 3 years old.
“We talk about the importance of doing things like recycling, taking care of our wildlife and our plants and making sure that we’re being thoughtful about the way we use energy. We talk about different types of energy and the importance of renewables.
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“These are all positive, proactive things that I think are great for young children to hear about as young as they can understand it and as young as they’re interested."
“Show that scientists are real-life adventurers and superheroes”
"We make a real effort to talk about the scientists who are trying to develop new strains of wheat that we’ll be able to grow with water, or the people who are working with river systems to work out how to make communities come together to protect their cities.
“It's always good to go back to the facts but to support this with positive stories and show there are really cool jobs in science! If you can present children with this reality and it becomes an inspiring problem to fix, rather than just a problem, then that's the difference. Making this an inspiring, fixable problem as opposed to just being a scary issue.
"Let's take the wildfires in Australia for instance – a horrible thing that lots of children would have seen on the news. On the flip side, we can acknowledge this happened but also talk to children about the firefighters who went in and were able to do all of these amazing things. Or how about this charity that is now working to save all of these animals? Focusing on the people and inspiring children to want to be like that, that’s a great way forward.
The best way to talk to children and to actively get children to want to make those changes is to help them feel like they can make a difference
"There are scary truths to sustainability and I don’t think we should hide away from those scary truths, but for me I think the best way to talk to children and to actively get children to want to make those changes is to help them feel like they can make a difference. That they can get involved in making those changes."
"Children often know far more than we give them credit for”
“At work, quite often we’ll be talking to children about something like renewal energy and I’ll have 5-year-olds who can tell me what a wind turbine is, or a 4-year-old who has decided that their absolute passion in life is electric cars. I've had children as young as 4 explain to me how to charge an electric car and why it's better and I think that’s pretty cool!
"Children these days are growing up in a world where solar panels, electric cars, wind turbines – they are normal to them. It's important we remember that and make renewable energy a normal conversation, for example."
It's always encouraging for me to see how inspired young people can feel to make a change for our planet when they’re so little
“I've met kids who are very serious about recycling and are so passionate about it because maybe at school they’re part of their green club, or they have just done a project where they’ve been learning about the importance of beach cleans. So I’ve learnt that in talking to children, never underestimate them. It's always encouraging for me to see how inspired young people can feel to make a change for our planet when they’re so little."
Maddie’s sustainable product swaps for all the family
"If your family use manual toothbrushes then consider getting a bamboo one – they’re a really good way to go forward. If not, switch to an electric toothbrush because they last so much longer.
“I also use refillable floss in a little glass jar and all I need to do is buy the refillable to go inside it. I have a refillable deodorant too which has an aluminium case and I buy the refill packs and put that in it. I think about minimising where I can.
"I used to use an awful lot of cotton pads for things like toner, removing my makeup and I now use a reusable wash flannel and that on its own takes off all my makeup. I don’t need to use a cleanser anymore because I've just got this one wash cloth. I rinse it in water and then I use it again – that’s my cleanser. So I'm not using cotton pads anymore – it’s been a great swap for me.
“I don’t believe you need to skip on any of the luxuries, I just think it takes a little bit of research and seeing what you can use instead. You've got to figure out what works."
Swap from liquids to bars
“Hair and body wash bars take less water to make than liquid versions. Also they weigh less – it’s nuts that we make these huge bottles of liquid that we then transport around the world when we all have water in our own homes. If you add the water when it gets into your house, it makes it a more sustainable product.”
"Child’s Farm have created hair and body wash bars where the packaging itself is 100% recyclable. It’s really light, no plastic at all and for all those reasons they’re a super sustainable choice.
"Child’s Farm are a skincare brand for children but I use them too because I love how they smell. Also, I'm someone who has always had eczema-prone and extremely sensitive skin, so I tend to find myself going towards children’s skincare brands because I trust that they’ll be safer for me.
“What I love about the body wash bars is that they are 100% plastic free and the packaging is 100% recyclable. Child’s Farm have tried to reuse plastic that’s taken from the ocean from day one – I love that this has always been the ethos of Child’s Farm. This is why they are the first B Corp certified British children’s skincare brand. To be in B Corp is a huge deal because it’s a lot of hard work. As a brand, they’re doing all the right things to be kind to the planet and having that certification shows that they really mean business."
“We suddenly realised how precious all our recycling was because it could be repurposed into so many things”
"During the lockdown, my partner and I started a YouTube show called ‘Let's Go Live, which was our daily life science show. We made it our mission that all of the activities we presented to the families could be done using materials they already had in the house and things that could be recycled.
“We suddenly realised how precious all our recycling was because it could be repurposed into so many things. In our house, we have a reusable, recycling and rubbish bin. In the reusable bin were things like plastic bottles, egg cartons and plastic tubs. Whilst we were doing the show we go into those bins and that would be our first point of call for arts and crafts.
“If we needed to cover up some plants in the garden we’d chop a plastic bottle in half. If we needed a bit more for the compost we’d fill an egg carton or grow some cress. Having a space in the house where you can separate your recycling, you might find you can reuse some items even if it's just for arts and crafts. I think it’s a great way to start thinking about how we can get the most life out of the stuff that we buy."
4 new lives for a peanut butter (or other food) jar
"This glass jar kind of became a running joke for Greg and I when we were doing the show. We were thinking of creative activities that can be done with glass jars. We said we’re going to use this as many times as possible because we wanted to prove that you don’t need much to create or make things.
“So this glass jar started out as a peanut butter jar, we then reused it to make a reusable glass jar coffee cup. We simply wrapped it in lots of rubber bands that we were never going to use.
“We then emptied it and used it to grow beans, we put a wet kitchen towel inside and put some beans (seeds) inside and we were then able to show the life cycle of a plant in this same glass.
“We then decided to grow cress, so we put lots of cotton wool inside it, put the cress seeds on top and we were growing cress. For a while we had cress hair growing out of it!
“And then the last thing we used it for was we turned it into a rock-arium. Anybody can have a pet, but everybody can also learn about different habitats. So we filled this with stones, earth and some bark, and put a rock and a googly eye on it and there we have our pet rock in a rock-arium!
“And even now we've got the lid to it and eventually the poor pet rock will probably lose its home and we can use this to store food in the fridge. A glass jar is so good, you can store so much in it and it will keep for ages!"
Maddie’s sustainable play ideas
Go on a rubbish ramble
"Getting outside whether that’s a local park or on a walk collecting rubbish is a really cool thing to do, I call them ‘rubbish rambles’. So you go on a walk and you collect rubbish along your way and I think that’s a good way to interact with young children and think of their impact.
Make a bee café
"As a beekeeper myself, I would say bees are a really good way to get children thinking about the importance of little critters and biodiversity. You can do something as simple as getting a pot with a couple of wildflowers in it and a little dish of water with some stones in it, to make a little bee bath. You don’t need to have a big space – just a doorstep or a patio. I call them ‘bee cafés’. If everyone could make a bee café for them to have little service stations to hop around as they’re flying on their way to a big flower meadow, that’s a great way to get children thinking of the importance of insects and pollinators in our world.”
Find out more information about Child's Farm body wash bars
Child's Farm has recently become the first British brand to achieve B Corp status in the children’s skincare industry. Certification as a B Corp is granted to companies who “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose” and allows purpose-driven companies to have a more positive impact on the planet and its people.
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