The Life Lesson Olivia Wilde Wants to Make Sure Her Two Toddlers Understand, ASAP

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Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Take one look at Olivia Wilde and her kids, four-year-old Otis and one-year-old Daisy, and these words will come to mind: adorable, wholesome, cheerful. All true. One word that might not make the list as readily though? Self-involved.

Harsh? Maybe. But according to Wilde, this is true of all young kids at first, even her own. The actress chatted with InStyle inside a tiny house almost entirely fueled by Dunkin Donuts coffee grounds (it literally runs on Dunkin, guys) in New York's Madison Square Park (see the house below, this is really a thing). She abandoned all pretenses to speak freely about the importance of teaching kids to be thoughtful, particularly when it comes to the environment, and what it really takes for younger kids to grasp it.

"Kids are born thinking that they are the masters of their universe, that everything revolves around them, because we really teach them that at a young age," she told InStyle. "They're born and everything is about them, and then at a certain age, the harsh reality of life kicks in and they realize it's not all about them. And I think slowly, when they're like two years old, you have to introduce them to concepts of limited resources. You have to say, 'No, you can't leave the water running.' Every kid just wants to leave the hose on, or the faucet on, whatever it is. They want to use all the paper towels, because they have no concept of limited resources, and why should they? So at a young age, I just try to remind them we have to share this space. We have to share these resources."

Wilde says Otis and Daisy are starting to catch on — and their timing couldn't be better, because pollution has never looked worse. Right now, National Geographic reports that some 18 billion pounds of plastic is polluting the ocean every year. The Weather Channel says climate change is already so bad, it's a "public health crisis" and a "national security concern." And The Guardian reports that humans have outright destroyed 83 percent of wild mammals. All of this is very scary, and it makes being conscious of the environment and how we're impacting the earth arguably more important than ever before.

"How do you get people to give a shit? I think sometimes you have to show them why making a change in their lives isn't going to rob them of quality of living," Wilde said. "So it's about saying you can live with the same quality of your live, you can live with the same ease and convenience, there's just ways to do it differently now."

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Cindy Ord/Getty Images

"There's those of us who have the option to shop differently and more consciously," Wilde said. "And when I kind of became an adult and was earning my own money and realized I had the opportunity to support companies who were doing things differently, I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to use the fact that I won the life lottery in a thoughtful way, and say ok, if I'm going to be buying materials, I'm going to be buying thoughtful, consciously produced materials."

Living life this way doesn't have to be a chore, and Wilde is hoping her kids will not only follow her lead, but enjoy it too.

"I think [Otis and Daisy] like that it means they can participate. Kids do like plugging in and participate. That's why Earth Day is such a genius concept," Wilde said. "It's amazing how much we forget as adults, going through the busy lives that we have, and then your kid comes back from preschool and is like, 'Mom, this is why we can't use plastic bottles.' And good! I'm glad it's being reinforced. But that's why early childhood education is so important, because if you think about it, an entire generation of parents are learning from their children."

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