Being a green parent takes effort. It’s not easy to avoid the temptation to give your kids everything and to teach them to avoid consumeristic behavior. There are a lot of little things you should do.
1. Clean green.
Using homemade or environmentally friendly cleaners is a very important step for green parents. It’s a way to avoid exposing your family to many of the chemicals that are common to so many homes, some of which can cause health problems. Just think about any time that cleaning with harsh chemicals has left your eyes watering, given you a headache or made it just a little harder to breathe. Why expose your family to such things if you don’t have to.
2. Enjoy hand-me-downs and thrift stores.
Hand-me-downs and thrift stores don’t just save you a ton of money. They allow you to reuse clothing, toys and other goods that someone else doesn’t want anymore.
It can be amazing what you can get for so little. Thrift stores won’t have the hottest styles, but you can find some very good quality clothing in them for very low prices.
Delight in the finds, and make sure that anything that is reusable when you’re done with it goes down to another family or to the thrift store.
3. Keep things simple.
Birthday parties. Holidays. The general clutter of the house. If you can encourage simplicity in your life, you’ll generally consume less. You’ll also be less driven to distraction by the chaos of it all much of the time.
Kids really do love simple birthday parties, especially when they’re younger. Don’t fall for the competition to have the best party in the class. Younger kids will happily just play together. Their parents may even be grateful if you keep the goodie bags simple or even just don’t bother.
It gets more challenging as kids get older and start to feel peer pressure more, but keep at it. Talk about why you do what you do and why you don’t do what you don’t do. Sometimes they’ll agree and be happy about it while other times they’ll be disappointed, but that’s life.
4. Teach the kids to recycle.
Recycling is easy in many areas these days, but not everywhere. If you have it easy, make sure your kids start from an early age tossing recyclables into the correct bin.
It can be a small windowsill garden or a serious one out in the back yard, but having your own garden is great for green parents. You’re teaching about where food comes from as well as an appreciation for nature.
Make sure you include composting. You don’t have to get fancy about it, but why should that food waste go into the trash if it can benefit your garden?
6. Get active.
There are a couple of meanings to this one. Yes, get active physically. How else to show your children that there’s more to life than television, cell phones and computers.
But also be active in your community. Volunteer. Do so as a family as children get old enough. Don’t just talk about the issues that matter to you, show that you mean it.