A child’s education starts at home. By the examples that we, as parents, set for our children, we can mold them to become responsible and environmentally kind citizens of this beautiful planet. The earlier you start, the better. If you expose your children to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and environmentally kind practices every day, it will become ingrained in their proverbial DNA.
What is Environmentally Kind Parenting?
Environmentally kind living refers to showing a concern for the environment and the impact of our decisions as consumers. What is the importance of an environmentally kind lifestyle for you and your family? What do you expect from your environmentally kind child? Those are very personal questions. Green parenting will mean different things to different people. To one mother it might mean buying only organic produce and striving to provide healthy meals for her family. To another parent, it could mean recycling as far as possible and not purchasing items in single-use plastics.
As you grow as a parent, you will decide for yourself what is vital about being an environmentally kind child, and which skills and mindsets you want to teach to your children. Here are some tips to adopting this lifestyle and raising further awareness about our earth.
1. Get Outside
The best way to foster an appreciation for the world around us is by allowing our children to experience it firsthand. Go for family walks in a nearby forest. If you live near the ocean, take your kids rock-pooling. Go on bug safaris in your backyard. Look for critters under rocks and logs, in trees and shrubs. Spending time in the outdoors is great for both their physical and mental health!
2. Weekly Nature Themes
Why not come up with a theme for each week in which you can explore a topic in more detail. You could dive deep into topics like bugs, animals, seasons, or landscapes. The sky's the limit. While you're at it, you could incorporate some fun books to back up the lessons. Reading is a fantastic activity to do with your children. Incorporate some children’s books about environmental superheroes, reducing the plastic problem, and the earth’s diverse ecologies.
3. Recycling at Home
We should all do our bit to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Depending on the age of your child/ren, you can get them involved in various aspects of recycling at home. Teach them to fill Eco-bricks or sort the recycling. Toddlers will enjoy jumping on plastic bottles to squash them before popping them into the recycling bin. While engaging in these activities together, you can talk to them about where all our household waste goes and what we can do to lessen the damage to our environment.
4. Environmentally Kind Diapers
From birth to potty training, a child will go through about 7000 disposable diapers. That equates to about two tons of waste in our landfills! How long does it take for a disposable diaper to break down? The EPA estimates range between 250 and 500 years! Choosing a kind diaper like DYPER or even cloth diapers can have a massive impact on the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Cloth diapers have come a long way since our grandmothers used them. They have been modernized to fit more easily, be more compact, absorbent, and good-looking. It's up to parents to determine if the amount of time it takes to the mess it makes and the extra loads of laundry each week including all the water used to wash them is something they're able to commit to. They're also not very convenient, especially when you're on the go a lot.
DYPER is designed by parents for parents and is proud to offer a simple and kind diapering journey. They are remarkably absorbent, soft diapers are made with chlorine-free fluff pulp and plant-based materials, and without latex, alcohol, perfumes, or phalates! Also, with their REDYPER™ service you can opt into curbside diaper pickups and turn them into something useful.
5. Eat Healthy, Shop Healthy, Grow Healthy
Choosing produce that is fresh and seasonal is not only healthier for you, it is also better for the environment. When your kids come grocery shopping with you, engage them in your product decision-making processes. Explain to them about carbon footprints and choosing produce grown locally rather than overseas. Ask them to help you identify items with packaging that is environmentally responsible.
Additionally, there is nothing quite as healthy and satisfying as eating produce that you have grown yourself. There are heaps of lessons for children to learn when helping in the garden. Gardening gets them outside in the fresh air. It gets them dirty and spending energy! Sowing your own seeds and watching them slowly grow is exciting and a great lesson in patience. You don't need a big garden to make things grow. Kids will love watching things grow in pots or containers just as much as if they were growing in a garden!
6. Energy Wise
Teach your children good energy-consumption habits from an early age. For good water-saving habits, fit timers for tooth brushing and showering. Or, let your kids choose a shower time playlist of two or three songs. Once the playlist is finished, shower time is over.
Have a ‘lights off’ policy in your home – whenever you leave a room, you turn off the light. Have your children reached the electronic device user age? Train them to charge their devices only until full and to not leave their devices on their chargers overnight. Buy rechargeable batteries for electronic toys and the like. Show your kids how to safely re-charge their batteries.
7. Green Cleaning
Whether it is cleaning your home or cleaning your children, due to low regulations on chemicals used in products in the US, there is an alarming number of potential allergens, irritants, and environmentally harmful substances found in many cleaning agents and personal care products. Fortunately, there is a host of natural, non-harmful alternatives available online and in supermarkets. Look for products that clearly state the list of ingredients and don’t include things like preservatives, phosphates, fragrance, or parabens. You can also lookup your products on EWG, ThinkDirty, or Cosmily sites to check how safe your products are and identify any potential ingredients that pose risks for health issues.
When it comes to washing your dishes, laundry, and bathing your baby, we've got you covered! Our baby wash and shampoo for babies is pH balanced to reduce skin irritation. And to bring you kind laundry leaning options, we've partnered with Dropps™. DYPER believes in radical transparency when it comes to the ingredients used, so you can trust that there is nothing untoward in the soap you are using to wash your clothing, or kids. We are all about creating simply kind solutions!
8. Support Kind Brands or Thrift
"The most environmentally kind piece of clothing is one you already own", our CEO and Founder, Sergio Radovcic often says. Obviously, for children that grow out of their clothing seemingly faster than paint dries, this is not always an option. A great way to not only save money and do better for the planet is to check out your local second-hand shops or online capsule rental stores for gently-used clothing that your family can give a second-life to.
9. Volunteer for Green Activities
Inspire your children to take care of their local environment. Engage with a local community center and volunteer for the park, river, or beach clean-ups. If you do go to the beach often, pledge to pick up a few items of trash every time that you go. For kids that are doing math and stats already – you can turn a litter pick-up session into a math project. They can count all the different types of litter that they find and plot it in a graph. For example, cans vs. glass vs. plastic bottles.
10. Drink Your Own Water
A great way to have a stronger environmental impact is to use a refillable bottle instead of single-use plastic bottled water. Depending on where you live, however, your tap water could contain contaminants you'd rather avoid. You'll want to ensure your tap water is safe for drinking, of course, which you can do with EWG, here. If you find your local tap water less than ideal, there are an array of affordable water filtering systems you can look into. Or, if you see the value of investing in an extensive filtering system, you can have a reverse osmosis or complete home water system installed for optimal hydration without the gunk. Cheers to happy, healthy hydrating!
Environmentally Responsible Parenting that Suits You
Raising children is a real challenge. Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to tick all the ‘green’ boxes of an environmentally kind lifestyle. Do what you can and what you feel comfortable with. Often times greener choices are more costly. If your budget doesn’t allow for it, don’t sweat it. We all have different circumstances and different capacities. Do the best that you can do as a parent. And pat yourself on the back for caring and doing your bit to teach your children how they can make a difference!