by Sally Cameron, midwife and mother of 2. I am a passionate, creative, trying to be Green unschooling single mom. . It’s a journey.
The new buzz word is Green and all thing Eco. People are becoming more aware of the need to think about the impact of our lives on the planet. Being a greener parent is not about suddenly becoming vegetarian, living in a yurt and wearing tie dye. None of us like change very much and our society pushes fast, convenient and easy as the best ways to do most things. Green parenting just involves taking a step back and looking at what we do as parents. Does some of what we do have a negative impact on the environment? Are there other simple things we could do to get ourselves and our kids more involved in thinking about the planet and doing things that benefit the environment?
Trying to make too many changes at once will just be overwhelming and in the end it is easy just to give the whole thing up as being too hard. Change needs to be slow and sustainable and once you have one area of your life a little greener then you can move on to the next area.
Here are just a few ideas to inspire you toward being a greener parent.
– Reduce your waste!
Every child in disposable nappies from birth to 2 produces 2 tons of non biodegradable waste. We tested this figure for ourselves and it is probably rather conservative if the current trends in later potty training are featured in. Gone are the days of folding and pinning cloth nappies, the modern cloth nappies are easy to use, leak proof, totally machine washable and can save you as much as R9000. Think of supporting one of the South African brands to ensure you nappies have the lowest possible carbon footprint.
While it would be financially impossible for most of us to switch to a totally organic diet, we do need to be more aware of where our food comes from and what is in it. There are some fantastic organic vegetable box schemes around the country as well as local produce markets where you can get fresh local organic food. Start by adding one organic box to your household a month. The fewer pesticides and other toxic chemicals that are used in the production of your food the better for the planet and for your family. Cost can be a consideration but if you cut out 1-2 meat meals a week you can put the extra money toward organic veggies.
– Get Kids involved
We have to show our kids that it is important to us and they have to see us doing our little bits around the home before they will take it on board as being something they need to focus on. Get them to help sort stuff out for recycling. Talk about saving water by not running the tap while brushing teeth, explain about turning off lights and electronic equipment that is not in use. Watch documentaries on the environment, read books about stuff kids can do, get them out into nature to see what it is that they are protecting
– Start Planting
Even very small children like planting and watching things grow, one great way to get more organic food into kids is to grow it yourself. They are also more likely to eat something they have grown themselves. Start on a small scale, you dont have to plant a whole vegetable garden. A few pots or troughs are a great way to start.
– Use natural laundry products
Normal laundry detergent is very harsh on the environment and rivers and wild life. Consider a natural/eco friendly alternative of which there are quite a few varieties Triple orange , Enchantrix, soap nuts, Ceramic and Magnetic wash balls . As an added bonus all of these are a lot kinder to babies and childrens skin which can be very sensitive to chemical used in most detergents
– Buy or use second hand where possible
Everything we buy for our babies used natural resources to make and often a lot of CO2 in the process. Baby furniture, clothes and toys are very expensive and have a short practical life so a lot land on the rubbish dump quite quickly, look at using preloved or buying 2nd hand. The only non-negotiable necessity is a car seat. It is not advised to buy these second hand so by saving in the above areas you can now spend a little more on buying the safest chair your money can buy
Many people are a bit snobby about 2nd hand stuff and it can be hard to find but try setting up a swop or 2nd hand sale with friends or through a parenting group or nursery school. There are some auction-type site in SA, not as big as overseas but worth trying. Some websites offer place to advertise 2nd hand products too.
With all of these ideas the thing is not to feel guilty about what you are not doing but to start with what you can and move on from there. Good luck in adding a little green to your lives.