Blog, Partnerships

How To Talk To Your Children About Climate Change [In Partnership With OCTOPUS ENERGY]

ARE YOU A BUDDING ARTIST KEEN TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE? Octopus Energy are running a competition that could see your work displayed on billboards throughout the UK – and you could even win an eco-holiday! Read on to find out more.

Being a parent in this modern world doesn’t come with a handbook – and there are many occasions when I wish that it did. From backchat to school bullying, to explaining away glimpses of the news in an age-appropriate setting, it seems not a day goes by at the moment where my Mary Poppins toolbag of parenting skills is required to magic up yet something else to tackle each new situation.

I’m the mother of a very curious and chatty nine-year-old, and a few months ago he started to take a real interest in the news. My partner is a news commissioner, and so the news is inescapable in our house. I often find the pair of them sitting on the sofa together, glued to the box, which is sweet but also slightly worrying as I wonder what the next topic of conversation is going to be and how to approach it sensitively and appropriately.

I needn’t have worried. We were walking to the supermarket a few weeks ago when he decided to tackle climate change, casually dropping it into conversation in the way that children do.

‘Mama, did you know that in a few years time our planet is going to die because humans are destroying it?’

‘Hmm sorry what was that?’

‘I heard it on the news, and read about it in my Our Planet book. That’s why it’s been really hot this year, because of climate change.’

I reassured him that the death of our world wasn’t exactly imminent – as in, tomorrow – because he is a sensitive child and I didn’t want him to be laying awake all night with nightmares – but that yes, we are in a climate emergency, a culmination of many many human behaviours and lack of respect for our planet as a whole. We talked about plastic in the oceans, about fossil fuels, about carbon dioxide and global warming. I was surprised at how well-informed he was already, and how concerned he was about the future. We talked about the school strike for climate change, which he was unsurprisingly enthusiastic about, and watched some videos of Greta Thunberg addressing world leaders and rallies.

We can’t all be Greta, I smiled at him as one video came to an end, because my boy is ambitious and I could see where this may be headed, but we can all make a difference. None of us are too small to have an impact – and if we all changed our behaviour in small day to day ways, the collective result would be far greater than we could ever imagine. Don’t let not being able to do everything, stop you from trying to do anything at all.

Jack Monroe and son at the park. Photograph by Patricia Niven.

And so we started to make a list. Turning lights off when we leave a room. Unplugging appliances. Eating vegetarian meals for 80% of the week – or more (you can find some great recipes and ideas here!). Hanging washing up outside or on the airer instead of using the tumble dryer. Hanging clothes up at the end of the day so they can get another days wear out of them, instead of leaving them scrunched on the floor – we are still working on that one!
We recycle all of our paper by shredding it and using it as bedding for the rabbit, which when soiled, goes into a large compost bin at the end of the garden. I’m currently drying out all the flowers I receive to make my own confetti for our wedding next year.

One of the key changes you can make is to switch to a renewable energy supplier, like Octopus Energy. You can get a quote here to see whether this could be right for your household – and I should add that Octopus Energy are the largest investor in renewable energy in the UK, even building their own solar farm in 2011 to help replenish the earths energy stocks with more environmentally friendly resources. 

Back to our household – we don’t use plastic straws, although I do understand for some people they are vital, but as a family we can do without them. We have worked hard to reduce our single-use plastic in the house – starting with these snazzy soap dispensers for the shower, that are refilled from a local shop instead of buying plastic bottles. We use bamboo toothbrushes, and buy fresh fruit and veg from the greengrocers as much as possible. In the kitchen, I use a lot of tinned foods – tins are almost infinitely recyclable and much better for the planet than buying things wrapped in plastic.

Some of these habits have been ingrained from the time we spent living in poverty, when I was a single mum on benefits struggling to find work. I turned off the lightbulbs religiously – even unscrewing them at one point to stop me from turning them on. We unplugged appliances, put an extra jumper on instead of turning the heating on, used electric blankets in bed instead of heating the whole house. I now have an electric blanket on the sofa as well, I love them! And while these do use a little electricity, it’s far more efficient than heating the whole house through the gas central heating.

You can also encourage your children to create artwork to share the message about climate change – and their work could be featured on billboards across the UK! Octopus Energy ‘Portraits From The Precipice’ competition is open to children and adults of all ages, and if your work is submitted before the 1st of February 2020, you’ll be in with a chance of winning a family Eco-Holiday!

Octopus Energy want the eyes of the world on the climate crisis. So they’re taking over billboards across the UK to launch the world’s largest open-air art exhibition, inspiring action on climate change.

Create your own artwork inspired by the climate crisis, and you could see your creation on billboards around the UK. You’ll also be in with a chance of winning an eco-holiday 🌱

The artwork will appear on billboards from 25th November, in tube stations, along roadsides, overlooking iconic destinations, across the UK.

How to enter!

First, create your artwork on the theme ‘Portraits from the Precipice’. Take a photo and send it to, along with your name, your age, the title of your piece, and a few words about what it represents and what climate change means to you. Good luck!

Here’s Jonny’s entry – which he had absolutely no help from me with, I just took the photo! I was a bit blown away by the starkness of it but think the message is absolutely clear…

And finally – one of the ways we can all reduce our carbon footprint and be a bit kinder to the planet is to consume fewer animal products – which I’ve just handily written an easy and tasty book all about! You can pick up a copy of Veganish here.

This post was in partnership with Octopus Energy. It also contains affiliate links to products for which I may earn a small fee, but that doesn’t affect my judgement and all of the products listed here are ones I have personally bought or otherwise recommended, used, and loved enough to share with you all. 


Click here for my books! All text copyright Jack Monroe.

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