Two Oxfam staff members stand outside the Houses of Parliament holding up a placard saying 'The Time is Now'.
Two Oxfam staff members stand outside the Houses of Parliament holding up a placard saying 'The Time is Now'.

Ideas for taking climate action at home

Activities for ages 7-14.

Join with others in tackling the climate crisis

  • Climate change is affecting millions of the world’s poorest people, right now.
  • More frequent and extreme weather, like storms and droughts, are destroying homes, lives and livelihoods.
  • There is still hope but urgent action is needed now.
  • Inspired by some of the communities Oxfam works with around the globe, we’ve put together five ideas for taking action at home.
  • We can all play a vital role in saving our planet and its people.

Sacha de Boer/Oxfam Novib

Learn-Think-Act

  • Learn about issues
  • Think about how to solve them
  • Act as responsible global citizens

1. Set your recycling creativity free

Get creative and learn about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling!

  • Go on a hunt for any empty packaging in the house – cardboard boxes, bottle tops, foil – make sure that items are clean and free from sharp edges.
  • Now get to work at making your waste masterpiece – toys, games, musical instruments… the opportunities are endless!

The boy who sees treasure wherever he goes.

Martin and his friends live in Bidibidi, a giant refugee settlement in Uganda. They make toy cars from the things they find around them.

Think about the environmental issues of waste and packaging:

Reduce – How could people avoid using packaging? Repairing rather than replacing things is one way of buying less ‘stuff’. Buying bulk items rather than lots of smaller ones is another option.

Reuse – What else could empty packaging be used for? For example, plastic bottles and rolls of newspaper could be used as plant pots. Empty glass jars could be used as food containers.

Recycle – What packaging can be recycled and what can’t? How much of your household’s weekly waste is non-recyclable? Older children could research what the different recycling symbols on household packaging mean.

  • What will you create from the 'rubbish' you find?

2. Harness the power of worms

  • Global food wastage causes more carbon emissions than the majority of countries in the world.
  • 37% of carbon emissions from food waste happen when food is prepared and after it's eaten. So we can all make a big difference by wasting less food at home.
  • One way you could take action is by composting your food waste. Most gardens have space for a compost heap and you don’t need much equipment to get going.
  • If you don’t have a garden, you could always use an indoor worm composting bin or try building your own mini wormery.
  • There are lots of online sources of useful information, practical tips and fun activities for teaching children about the importance of composting. Here's a link from the RSPB to get you started.

Poo-eating worms!

Micro-organisms are an essential part of the composting process but other creatures such as worms also play an important role. Oxfam has been working with communities to provide specially designed toilets which use worms to decompose human poo and turn it into clean, safe fertiliser.

Toilets have been installed in Sierra Leone and adapted for use in communal camps in Myanmar, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, with the aim of building hundreds more.

3. Carry out a home energy audit

  • Go around your home and make a list of the different ways in which you use energy, for example to turn on lights, heat the house, cook or power a phone or tablet.
  • You could print off the Home energy audit activity sheet to use or else you could create your own table on a piece of paper to record your findings.
  • Now think of ways in which you and everyone in your household could use energy more efficiently. Write your ideas on the Home energy audit activity sheet.

Maybe you could investigate ways to better insulate your home and keep it cosy with less heating, make little posters to remind people in your household to turn off lights and appliances, or replace less efficient light bulbs with more efficient LED ones. The Energy Saving Trust has lots of useful suggestions.

Perhaps you could take gas and electricity meter readings and then challenge your household to reduce your usage. Not only will you be helping to reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll also save money in the process!

4. Make do and mend

  • 8% of global carbon emissions come from the clothing and footwear industries (more than aviation and shipping combined).
  • Switching from new to second hand clothes can make a significant difference to your carbon footprint.
  • Every new thing we buy has a carbon footprint, so getting furniture, electricals and clothes repaired can give them a longer life and reduce your environmental impact.
  • Oxfam has been doing the reusing and reselling thing since the 1940s, when the first Oxfam shop opened.
  • Then, in 1974, Oxfam became the first national charity to develop its own facility for recycling and reusing clothes that never sends clothes to landfill!

Oxfam's clothes recycling centre

Wastesaver now handles 12,000 tonnes of textiles every year. First, they make their way down huge conveyor belts; where our clothing experts sort through it by hand, to decide where it should go next. Next, the things are sent or sold on to the most suitable market - never to landfill.

Every item can be used to make money for our poverty-busting work, including being sold on Oxfam's Online Shop, in our Oxfam Festival Shops, or selling them onto fashion designers who restyle garments and reuse fabrics. Damaged or low-grade items can be sold to recycling traders so they can, for instance, be turned into car soundproofing or mattress stuffing.

A few ideas for reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ in our world:

  • Have a clear out and put aside the clothes, books and toys you no longer need or want.
  • Mend, upcycle or repair something to give it a new lease of life. Check out this video for some simple instructions to upcycle a pair of jeans.
  • Reuse some unwanted clothes or fabric by making it into something else. It’s easy to search for ideas online, see the Make your own bunting resource sheet for some initial inspiration.

5. Spread the word

  • Finally, one last important way of taking action is by raising awareness of an issue among others.
  • Jessy and Isaac are two young people living in Malawi. They are proud to help raise awareness of how climate change is impacting people’s lives now and why urgent action is needed.
  • Together with their headteacher, Jessy and Isaac visited the UK in 2019. They met with other young people to share experiences and ideas about the impacts of the climate crisis and what action is needed.
  • They also took part in a climate rally in London. Watch the video to find out more:

How could you spread the word?

  • Talking to family and friends is one way to start.
  • Share some facts about the causes and impacts of the climate crisis; talk about thoughts and feelings about climate change; discuss what action you could take.
  • Perhaps you could talk to an elderly relative about how the environment and our lifestyles have changed during their lifetime.
  • See this lesson plan from The World’s Largest Lesson for some ideas for engaging in a conversation about climate change.

Further learning

Making Sense of the Climate Emergency

With inspiring case studies and creative ideas for taking action, this cross-curricular resource for ages 8-14 helps learners to: make sense of the climate crisis; reflect on their values in life; discuss thoughts and feelings; and feel empowered to act - both individually and together with others.

View the resource

Climate Challenge

These popular Oxfam education resources for ages 7–14 use engaging tools and activities to explore the causes and human impact of climate change and consider what action can be taken in response. Activities link to several curriculum areas including English, science and geography.

View the resource (7-11)

View the resource (11-14)

Stories of Climate Change

These real-life stories from Malawi and quick activity ideas help learners aged 9–14 to think about who is most vulnerable to climate change and investigate how communities are responding.

View the resource

NASA’s Climate Kids

This website provides information, activities and games to support learning about the science of climate change and sustainability:

Visit climatekids.nasa.gov

Join others in taking action

Find out more about the action being taken in the UK to campaign against climate change and how individuals and communities can get involved.

The Climate Coalition: www.theclimatecoalition.org

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland: www.stopclimatechaos.scot

Stop Climate Chaos Cymru: stopclimatechaos.cymru/