You recycle. You buy organic. You have a low flow toilet, use compact fluorescent bulbs and you rescued your pup instead of buying one with a fancy pedigree. Done. You pat yourself on the shoulders and carry on with your life.
But after watching “An Inconvenient Truth”, “The 11th Hour” and “The Cove”, you are reminded that some pretty scary things are happening, and someone needs to do something about it. But what can one person do to change the current dramatic situation? You have done your part. The rest must be up to our governments and NGOs. They can’t expect us to do all the work. Mmmhh… why do you still feel guilty then?
There’s so much more that we all could be doing, but we don’t because it’s inconvenient, time-consuming or just plain unattractive. And let’s be honest, it’s probably not at the top of your priority list. But then something happens and suddenly your world is turned upside down. You are going to have a baby. You research, you read, you ask. You need to make sure you are ready to give this baby the best possible start in life. And the more you read, the more you learn. Wow, you didn’t know that diapers may contain chlorine and toxic chemicals or that the products you wash your clothes with may not just pollute our streams and oceans, but could potentially harm you and your family as well.
Now you feel compelled to make greener choices and to do more, but you must admit the reasons are selfish. You not trying to save the planet, you are just trying to save your children.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Often kids are a great gateway for parents to embrace healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier, and most of these choices have the added bonus of also being better for the environment. And there’s more: In less time than you think, you will be a role model for that little one of yours. He will learn from your example. So what feels like a major shift in your lifestyle will become second nature for him. For your children, protecting the planet will not be an option, it will be a necessity. And that is something every parent can feel good about.
HERE SOME SIMPLE IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED
• Go veggie. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone stop eating meat entirely – vegetarianism and veganism aren’t for everyone. But how about restricting meat from your family’s diet one day a week? Make it fun – encourage your children to come up with menu suggestions for your meatless Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday…) meal. What kids don’t like mac and cheese or vegetable lasagna? Get creative – I can tell you from experience that veggie dogs taste pretty darn good – wrap one up in some puff pastry and cheese, and kids go crazy for it. And lentils make a good substitute for ground beef in everything from shepherds pie to meatloaf.
• Turn off the lights. Connect with your kids by picking an evening (just a few hours) a month to turn off the lights and all the other electronic gadgets in the house. Play board games by candlelight or tell ghost stories. Catch up on one another’s news without the distraction of television and video games. Have you thought about changing the light bulbs in your home? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, if every U.S. household replaced just one regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, it would prevent 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road. If you have older children, involve them in the process of swapping out some of the bulbs in your house. Explain to them, in terms they can understand, how such a simple action can have such profound impact on the planet.
• Get crafty. Get inspired by recycled material. Next time you sit down to a craft project with your kids, pull out a box of “junk”. Toilet rolls can make great instruments. Use a wire coat hanger and left over wrapping paper to make a colorful mobile. Milk cartons can be transformed into bird feeders. What else is lying around your house and destined to end up in a landfill somewhere? Solo socks make great puppets, yesterday’s newspaper can become today’s paper mache masterpiece. Surround your kids with “junk” and you’ll be amazed with what they create.
• Conserve Water. Teaching kids to conserve water is easy and it can be fun too!
Why not share a shower with your little ones rather than run a gallon-gouging bath for them every night? Teach them to turn off the faucet while they are brushing their teeth. This simple practice can save three gallons of water a day!
• Ditch the Plastic. This one’s easy. Just remember to bring your reusable shopping bag with you when you are at the market. Drink out of reusable water and coffee mugs and carry your children’s snacks in reusable containers.
And hey – if you can’t stand the look or feel of Tupperware, you can find some delightful options on sites such as www.etsy.com