Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Ways to Become Eco-Parents

My sister recently had twins, and it got me thinking a lot about parenthood, and how important it is to teach your kids to appreciate and value the world we live in.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “children learn by our actions, not by our words?”  When it comes to many issues, this is very true.  Children emulate what they see.  If you want your children to grow up to be environmentally conscious and responsible adults, show them what that looks like.  Show them what it means to be eco-friendly.  Here are ten great ways to become eco-parents, and teach your kids to respect and care for themselves and the world they live in:

CSA share: June 25, 2011
CSA share (Photo credit: .m.e.c.)
#1.  Buy organic when possible.  In this instance, it is important to also discuss with your children why you buy organic.  Make them part of the shopping process by having them find items on your grocery list.  Take them to the farmer’s market with your or join a CSA (community sustained agriculture) program and have them come with you when you visit the farm.  Share with your children your thoughts on why to buy organic produce and then follow through with your actions.

#2.  Recycle.  This is such a small thing but it has a huge impact.  If your community waste management program offers a recycling program, then getting your children involved is easy.  Have them recycle paper, clean out plastic containers and help with the recycling system in your home.  If you don’t have the convenience of curbside recycling, it is a bit more of a process, but children can still get involved and it can become a family routine. 

#3.  Walk, ride your bike and take public transportation when possible.  Demonstrate to your children the value of conserving resources by practicing good eco-friendly habits.

#4.  Teach them to appreciate nature by taking them on nature walks, visiting wildlife preserves and learning about animals and their habitats.

#5.  Use reusable products whenever possible.  One very simple tip is to use reusable shopping bags.  Children are great for helping you remember to bring them along when you head to the store!

#6.  Grow a garden Children of all ages love digging their hands in the dirt and growing things.  Let them choose what they want to grow, help them cultivate it and teach them about planting and growing their own fruits and vegetables.

#7.  Travel.  Visiting other places helps children develop an appreciation and an awareness for the world outside their immediate surroundings.

Natural Laundry Detergent, Free and Clear
Natural Laundry Detergent, Free and Clear (Photo credit: artizone)
#8.  Use natural cleaners.  Mainstream cleaning products contain a whole host of chemicals and fragrances that are harmful to our health, and if you’re going to get your children involved in cleaning and caring for the home, then they’re going to be exposed to those chemicals.  Opting for natural cleaners gets the job done while staying chemical free - it's healthy for you, for them, and for the environment. Many cleaning products can even be made at home using safe, natural, and cheap ingredients like baking soda and vinegar, so they can save you money too.

#9.  Breastfeed infants.  Breastfeeding isn’t just better for a child’s health, it eliminates the need to manufacture and distribute formula.  And when your other children see you breastfeeding their sibling, they begin to develop an appreciation for its practicality - and for the efficiency of nature to provide what we need.

#10.  Buy used.  Clothing, furniture and even kitchen appliances can all be purchased used. This keeps them out of the landfills, and it saves money and resources manufacturing and distributing these items.  And you save a bit of money too.

Being an eco-parent is really about adopting environmentally friendly practices that make sense for you and your family, and taking responsibility for your role in the natural world.  Your children will grow up knowing you thought it was important to conserve, preserve, and take care of their health, and the health of the world we live in, and hopefully they’ll adopt the same responsible philosophy as they grow into adults themselves.

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