6 Ways To Be An Eco-Friendly Parent

Want to live a more environmentally friendly life as a parent? Here are some easy and practical tips!

As a parent, are you looking for ways to be more eco-friendly at home? Here are some easy and practical tips!

By Prerna Malik

As a mom to a four-year old, one of the areas that I’ve tried hard to work on is being more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious; not only because I want to raise my child to grow up to be a responsible adult but also because I want to make my own small contribution towards protecting the planet that will be her home for years to come.

Here are a few simple ways to be eco-friendly at home as a parent so that you can make a difference to the planet and your child’s life:

Switch to organic food or make your own baby food

When we were weaning our daughter, it was tempting to reach for the jars of readymade baby food. However, once I started making my own baby food using nothing but organic veggies and fruits and a stick blender, I realized that it is one of the simplest ways to be eco-friendly at home – plus it is so easy to make your own wholesome baby food! You reduce wastage and consumption of resources while giving your precious bundle healthy goodness as well. Boiled and pureed fruits and vegetables such as carrots, beetroots, spinach and apples as well as mashed potatoes and bananas make excellent baby food. You could also try out natural foods such as broken-rice and raagi (finger millet) porridges.

Similarly, when kids are older, switching to organic food – pulses, rice, flour, vegetables and fruits, will make a huge impact on their overall health and well-being by reducing their exposure to pesticides and chemicals and will also have a positive impact on the environment.

Also, take trips to the Mandi or Farmer’s Market to teach them about cultivation and sustainable living. Encourage them to ‘grow’ their own herbs. You can do this even if you live in an apartment. Potted herbs are easy to grow and look after. Try it.

Reuse, reduce and recycle

These 3 core principles of eco-friendly living can easily be applied to life with kids. Reducing our consumption of natural resources as well as ‘stuff’ helps to reduce our carbon footprint as well. Try teaching kids about the impact of too much stuff using books and educational shows and trust me, you’ll never have a problem when you say “No”, to more toys or clothes. Also, encourage kids to reduce their consumption of resources such as power, water, fuel and instead of just telling them that they should put off the lights, explain why it’s important. Using this strategy with my 4-year old has worked wonders.

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Encourage kids to reduce their consumption of resources … and instead of just telling them that they should put off the lights, explain why it’s important.

Reusing is a fantastic way to raise an eco-friendly child and protect the environment as well. Our craft cabinet is filled with reusables – old t-shirts, paper bags, Styrofoam cups, plastic plates – that instead of ending up in landfills are turned into fun projects for rainy and hot days.

Recycle old toys, clothes and stationery supplies by donating them to charities and NGOs. We have given away boxes filled with our daughter’s old but in good condition clothes, shoes, toys and books to Goonj and now it is she who tells us to put away something she’s outgrown into the box for the Goonj children.

Practice waste segregation at home. Use two separate bins, one for recyclables such as paper and plastics and another for decomposable waste such as kitchen refuse. Train your kids to use these bins appropriately. Involve them in using kitchen waste to make compost for your garden.

Encourage outdoor and active play

As a parent in today’s world, it seems difficult to escape the onslaught of technology in our lives. We rely on technology to entertain, stimulate and engage us. While some amount of technology is a good thing, we should be teaching our kids to get up, get out and get active.

Outdoor, active play is not only great for boosting their overall physical and mental development but will also help conserve energy spent in electronic entertainment.

Take nature walks to connect and learn

Taking short nature walks in the evenings have really helped our little girl connect with nature and learn more about how plants function, what role do insects play and what impact does a natural ecosystem have on human life. Try to take regular nature walks while teaching kids about how nature impacts our lives and why it is important to respect and preserve it.

Create a greener home

Being a parent means creating a safe and nurturing environment for our children. Taking baby steps to create a greener home will not only help you protect your babies but also keep the planet safe. For instance, avoid using aerosol sprays or insecticides to battle those mosquitoes. Instead, use a mosquito net, light a diffuser with eucalyptus or lavender essential oils and close the windows and doors in the evening.

Similarly, install CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs and explain to the kids why CFLs are better for them, the home and the planet.

Taking baby steps to create a greener home will not only help you protect your babies but also keep the planet safe.

Switch to wooden, cloth or BPA-free toys

I’d rather have a few good toys for my daughter to play with than lots of toys that are unsafe and unhealthy. Switching to good, ole’ wooden and cloth toys as well as choosing BPA-free plastic toys ensures that both she and the planet are safe. Better still, look in your kitchen cabinet for items that can double up as ‘toys’. Wooden spoons, a spare rolling pin, a couple of steel utensils and you have everything you need for a toy kitchen or a fun but noisy ‘band’.

Green parenting does not have to be complicated or difficult. Taking small but sure steps can help. Making small but meaningful changes will bring about a difference. Most importantly, setting the right example will go a long way in teaching kids to be environmentally-responsible. So, the next time, you’re headed out to the neighbourhood store, don’t reach for the car keys and see if the kids and you can walk or cycle instead.

How do you make green parenting an easy reality? What tips do you have for teaching kids about sustainability and eco-friendly living?

*Photo credit: Rjabinnik and Rounien (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)


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