Five Ways To Green Your Parenting

Five Ways To Green Your Parenting

Five Ways To Green Your Parenting

Why not make it the year to green your parenting, and start the journey of a thousand miles with a few small steps? Being a green parent doesn’t have to be a complicated, expensive or labour-intensive proposition. There are many small ways to become a greener parent. Here are five easy ways to green your parenting:

1 – Practice the three R’s. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce your consumption of goods. Avoid buying unnecessary gadgets (do you really need that gravity-defying pen or that LED Message License Plate Frame?). And, when you have stuff you are no longer using, instead of throwing it away, Freecycle it. Freecycle is a non-profit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their cities and towns. By finding new homes for their stuff, they are keeping it out of landfills. For more information, check out www.freecycle.org. Consignment shops, community fairs, garage sales and online swap sites provide other great ways to reuse and recycle. You’ll find many designer treasures. Be the hippest parent on the block, save money and still do your part for the environment.

2 – Green your house.

Think energy savings (and again, saving your hard earned money!). Lowering your thermostat by even just one degree in the winter and raising it by one degree in the summer can make a real difference. If you’re feeling brave, try a two degree difference. Switch off lights and small appliances when they’re not being used and teach your kids to do the same. Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth and shave. And what about cleaning? There are so many chemicals and pollutants in conventional cleaners. The good news is many alternatives are making their appearance on the market. In fact, some have been around for some time. Ecover has a great line-up of effective, safe and completely biodegradable cleaning products. They make it easy to go green when you clean! Finally, what about the outside of your home? Do you really need that perfect, fairway-like lawn? Consider the damage done by pesticides and kick them to the curb. Pesticides are linked to cancer, reproductive disorders and acute toxicity. Definitely not substances you want to be spraying your lawn with – especially where small children might be playing.

3 – Be mindful of what your family eats and drinks and how they consume it.

Avoid processed foods which are usually full of chemicals. Buy locally as much as possible. You’ll be supporting local growers and helping cut emissions produced by transport. And buy organic when you can. You’ll be avoiding exposure to pesticides and helping waterways, wildlife and agricultural workers do the same. Kick your addiction to bottled water. Think of all the waste left behind by those plastic bottles, not to mention the pollution produced during the making of those bottles, and the fact that they could be leaching contaminants into your water. Mountain Equipment Co-op recently pulled most food and beverage containers made of polycarbonate plastic from its shelves. You can read more about MEC’s decision here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071207.wcoop07/BNStory/National/home. A great alternative to the plastic water bottle is the reusable stainless steel bottle such as the Klean Kanteen. Klean Kanteen offers bottles in a variety of styles with a variety of drinking caps. There’s one to suit every family members’ need!

4 – Transportation

While for many of us living in the suburbs it is difficult to avoid owning a vehicle, there are ways to reduce our impact on the planet. For starters, choose the smallest possible vehicle to suit your family’s needs, and maintain it well. And, use public transportation for your commute to work as much as you can. On weekends walk to your local shops to do errands. A trip to the grocery store can be a family affair – bring the kids, the wagon (use it to pull your provisions back home – in reusable cloth bags of course) and spend some quality time together.

5 – Take care of your and your family’s health

Eat well (think fruits, veggies, whole grain, local, organic), exercise and maintain a healthy body weight. When you are fit and well-nourished you won’t get sick as often and when you do, you’ll recover faster. You’ll be less likely to need medical intervention and less likely to need pharmaceutical products. Pharmaceuticals continue to have an impact long after they are consumed and metabolized by their target populations. They have been found in creeks and waterways. Like pesticides, some pharmaceuticals are hormone-disrupting to those exposed to them – not only humans, but the animal and fish populations too. That’s enough to make someone feel sick!

The ultimate reason for taking care of your health? You’ll be able to enjoy each other and life as you undertake your journey of a thousand miles. Happy walking and best wishes for a green new year.

Natalie Carriere McGowan is a busy mom of very active 16 16-month-old triplets. She has always been interested in anything and everything to do with living green. Having three babies at the same time has provided her with countless opportunities (and challenges!) to discover the latest and greatest in green parenting. She is also the owner of http://www.ecomama.ca, an online retailer of earth-friendly products for young families and a meeting place for like-minded individuals. In 2008, she will be continuing her journey of a thousand miles and encouraging others to join in.
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