Green Parenting 101: 6 Easy Ways to Make a Difference
If you’re like me, you are likely aware of the fact that life could be a whole lot “greener” with the family. You know, perhaps a bit more care could be taken regarding just how much packaging, energy and food that the family uses on a regular basis. I’m guilty of not doing enough of my share to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but am determined to change for the sake of not only my kids, but for the environment as well.
As with anything, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and the same goes for changing one’s way of life. Old habits die hard, they say, so tread lightly, take it slowly and make your changes one step at a time. With a little effort, we can all make a positive and effective difference in our world.
Accordingly, here are 6 Easy Ways to Go Green With the Family:
1) Hand-Me-Downs – We all love new clothes, and if you’re like most parents, you probably love to see your little ones in the latest new outfit. That’s fine – “green parenting” doesn’t mean that moms and dads have to stop getting new items for their kids, but rather, consider including hand-me-downs in the mix. Parents can mix and match – which allows them to clothe their children with a combination of both new and gently-used hand-me-downs. Whether the clothes are from your older children, friends or relatives, say “yes” to the items and start your way to providing a “greener” wardrobe for your kids. On a related note, toys that are in reasonable shape are great items to recycle as well!
2) Leftovers – We’re a society of excess and many of us moms make much too much food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Into the fridge it goes with every intention of eating it the following day, or the day after. The problem is that we forget about it, we go out to dinner two nights in a row, or we decide that we just don’t feel like eating it again. The food goes bad, we throw it out and the cycle of waste continues (not to mention our guilt). Make a concentrated effort to plan meals in advance in order to assure a stronger likelihood of eating all of the remaining food. For the excess that remains? Eat it, all of it and feel good about your contribution to a less wasteful world.
3) Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products – There are tried and true products that can do just as good a job, if not better, than the cleaning items that you buy at the store. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon are just some of the household staples that are easily found in most homes. Learn how to use them to clean and reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that to which your children are exposed. As well, less toxins going down the drain and into the environment is a goal we should all strive for.
4) Eco-Friendly Baby and Child Products – If you’re buying new clothes or toys for your kids, consider looking for ones that are made with the environment in mind. In the case of toys, simple is often best. The old-fashioned but sturdy items that are made of wood, (e.g. building blocks or trains) for example, are often the playthings that kids love best. A return to simpler items where kids can use their imaginations more is a good thing.
4) Recycling – Many places now have paper and plastic recycling as part of garbage pickup, but being “green” doesn’t have to end at home. Teach your children the importance of recycling and taking that little step to separate plastics from paper, even when outside of the family home. This could be as simple as pointing out the recycling symbols to children when they are young so that they understand the importance of separating these materials. As with anything, of course, lead by example and let your kids see mom and dad doing the right thing. If you do, your children will naturally follow suit.
5)Car-Pooling – Going to soccer practice with the kids? Offer to pick up other children and start a movement amongst your circle of parents to do the same. No need for five cars to go to the same location when it can be done in one or two. Like anything, all it really requires is advance planning and a commitment to making a difference. One or two less cars on the road can go a long way, if we all make car-pooling a regular part of our parenting activities.
6) Walking – If your destination is within walking distance, do just that: walk. Many of us are so used to driving that we don’t even consider the alternative. Not only will you get some exercise and perhaps get to know your neighborhood a bit better, but you will decrease the amount of emissions into the environment, which is always a good thing.
7) Buying Local – The closer the food, the less energy and emissions that have been expended for the food’s delivery. Not to mention the fact that purchasing local food as much as possible facilitates a sense of community, as well as supporting local producers of the food, e.g. farmers. Take a walk to your local food provider or farmer’s market and enjoy a meal where the ingredients were delivered from not too far afield.
So as you can see, there are some simple things that all of us can do to become greener and more environmentally aware parents. For some additional ideas on green parenting, check out these tips from the 30 Second Mom site:
I appeared on CH Morning Live to provide viewers with examples of what they could do to to make their parenting more “green.” Check it out:
VIDEO: Green Parenting Tips For Parents
What other “green” related activities can parents do to set an example for their kids?