With the discovery that I’m pregnant again, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to just how you limit the environmental impact your family has on this planet. At the very least while you’re raising them, and hopefully providing them with the skills they need to continue with a green lifestyle.
It’s certainly not easy. With all the pressures kids have to conform and to want pretty much everything they see on television or their friends tell them about, the environment is only so much on their minds.
My main thoughts are currently centered on how to start this baby off right. Since my husband has finally agreed to go for cloth diapers, that’s going to be one good start. We haven’t gotten rid of the older children’s baby toys yet, still have the stroller, pack ‘n play, cradle, crib and so forth, so that’s going to help. They were about to head off to the thrift store. I told him trying to get rid of such things was dangerous!
Have to get a new infant car seat, though. Ours is older than the recommended age and I would hate to guess wrong on whether or not that recommendation is too conservative. Too much at risk in an accident.
And yes, we have tons of old baby clothes, either here if it’s a boy, or with my sisters if it’s a girl. There’s plenty of time for those to wander back into my custody if needed during visits that would happen anyhow.
Yes, I will be breastfeeding, and I’m thinking I’m going to use my reliable old baby food mill a little more heavily this time. Both of those have always worked well for me.
Helping Older Kids Reduce Waste
So really I should probably be thinking more on what to do to continue teaching my older kids. The more habits I can build into them, the better.
The challenge here is of course that older children don’t always understand why you’re telling them something, and will do things completely without thinking. That’s why my daughter had to fetch a spoon out of the trash the other day. That also explains why so much of my silverware is missing, because I’m sure I haven’t caught that happening every time. Very frustrating but a good example of how kids can do things unthinking when they know they shouldn’t.
That is one of the things I like about the school the kids are at now. The school started a garden area for the kids last year. They’re big on having the kids run and the play area is more challenging than most I’ve seen recently. They have a new recycling program in the lunch area, and I believe in the classrooms.
My daughter brings lunch to school just about every day when school in in session, and always in reusable containers. She’s as near to zero waste for lunch as I can manage… not counting whatever she refuses to eat.
There are some great reusable lunch bags and boxes out there. I love the Laptop Lunches Kit, since that’s pretty flexible. ReusableBags.com has a lot more lunch bags available, so if the Laptop Lunches Kit is too small you can find something more to your size preference.
Amazon also carries plenty of lunch bags; just do some research to avoid lead and BPA.
Reducing Waste at Home
Beyond just keeping kids from accidentally throwing things out that they shouldn’t, there are many things you can have them do at home.
Keep that wardrobe under control, for example. I find this one surprisingly difficult, not because I buy many clothes at all for my kids, but because relatives do! I am constantly amazed at how many clothes my kids end up with despite the fact that I almost never buy them anything, new or used.
We teach them the difference between play and nice clothes, so that nice clothes get ruined less quickly. Of course play clothes are at first defined as any clothes that will wash up well, and later as the clothes they’ve ruined for other purposes. Playing in torn jeans means nothing to my kids so far, other than that they can get as messy as they like.
I’ve posted in the past about using trash as craft supplies. If your kids are creative, it’s a great outlet.
Toys, Toys Everywhere!
I consider toys a weakness around here, even though, once again, we don’t buy that many! It’s the challenge of generous relatives.
I do tell people that anything that encourages active play or creativity is more welcome than any toy that limits the kids by how it’s supposed to be used. It doesn’t always help, but it’s worth the try.
When you’re stuck with tons of plastic toy clutter it’s time to teach the kids about generosity. Take some time regularly and go through the toys and figure out what can go to charity. Or you can go entrepreneurial and have a garage sale to teach them about earning money. Either way the toys are getting out of your house and being reused by someone else.
Magic Cabin is a really great place to find natural toys for children. Any time I visit their online store I go nuts wanting too much stuff. Not everything there is natural, but as a whole they tend to offer many more creative toys than most shops.
Cleaning Up Your Hike
My kids love to go hiking. A very simple bit of responsibility to teach them is that if you see trash, you pick it up. And of course, if you bring it in, use it up or take it out. Simple rules kids understand.
If you haven’t encouraged this before, you may be amazed at how much younger children in particular enjoy doing this. Keep in mind that the same kid who will absently throw a wrapper on the floor at home will be completely absorbed by the notion that they can help clean up natural areas. It’s just not the same to them.
Kids love gardens. Mine are just about obsessive about planting seeds. Given that they know nothing about it, most of what they plant never grows, but at least they try.
Our pumpkins really took off this year. They came from seeds from ones we bought last fall, and it looks like we will have a pretty nice supply for Halloween.
They really go for the tomatoes too. Those were just about the only other thing that did well in our garden this year for some reason.
But trust me, young kids don’t mind too much that the garden isn’t producing well. Being in the garden means they can dig in some dirt (set aside an area for that) and look for bugs. Oh, and you can’t forget how much fun they have nibbling on anything you’ve approved. Mine love basil and mint.
We compost, so food waste goes to making each year’s garden a little healthier without fertilizers. It works pretty well most years.
No matter what you do, of course, people have an impact on the planet. You can still take steps to limit your own and that of your family.