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Sustainability and environmental impact are very important elements of life today. Busy schedules, life with kids, and the never-ending overwhelm can push these important social causes to the backs of our overly distracted minds.
While raising my own children, I often choose easier solutions than environmentally responsible ones. I did a terrible job watching my carbon footprint during the baby and toddler years. Pre-packaged snacks (to throw in my purse), taking a drive so my baby will sleep, and ready-to-eat (and therefore overpackaged) meals were staples of my days.
I’m happy to say, now that my girls are older, and less demanding of my time, I’ve been able to return to some of the more sustainable options I used to use.
Let’s explore easy ways to be sustainable as a parent, and teach our children that convenience should not come at the expense of our environment.
Try these ideas to decrease your carbon footprint:
Reusable bags and containers
This is easy for us. My girls now cut up their own veggies for their lunch pails, and we place them in our reusable containers. Every evening it is also their job to empty their lunch pails and get those containers into the dishwasher to be used again!
Shopping bags are a terrific, easy way to avoid using plastic grocery bags. I put one of my girls “in charge” of the bags so I don’t forget to bring them with me. They are also responsible for packing the groceries at the store while I’m paying – we’re still working on making this successful!
We use reusable grocery bags for many other things: to take oversized items to school, for packing pajamas for a late family visit, or for any other carrying-stuff use! They are so versatile and usually pretty good quality. And when I find I’ve collected too many I donate them to places like the Food Bank (full of food at Christmas time) or fill them with old clothes and toys to donate to a goodwill.
Assess your commute
There’s a decent chance your children either walk to school or take a bus. As adults we quickly begin to rely on our cars – even if we don’t necessarily need to.
Join the Commuter Challenge and try a week of leaving your car at home. June 2-8 is Canadian Environment Week and you can work to decrease your carbon footprint with this challenge. Sign up here and read more about the challenge and how it works. (If you already use alternate transportation, you can still sign up and be a part of the results!)
Let me know if you’ve joined the challenge, and what city you’re doing it in. I like keeping an eye on the stats as the challenge progresses!
One concession I’ve made to lessening my car driving is obtaining a parking spot near to my store, but far enough to save a bit of gas (and money) over the week. I used to take the city bus to work but the challenges of a busy family schedule mean my time is currently too tight to go home on the bus, get the car, then get the girls where they need to go for the evening.
This tip only works if you have room, but container gardening can be successful as well.
We plant some herbs and vegetables every year in our backyard. It’s fun and educational for the kids (and me!) and it reduces the amount we purchase from the grocery store over the summer months.
This lessens our carbon footprint a few ways: we drive less, we don’t buy products that travelled to get to the grocery store, and we increase the plant growth around our home. Plus the food tastes fresh and delicious!
Save some energy by using wind and solar power with a clothesline. I love mine!
If your yard isn’t quite big enough to run a line, there are lots of clothes hanging options that can be folded and put away. I have this drying rack and I still use it for sweaters or overflow.
Do you actively try to be sustainable? It is something always in the back of my mind, but, to be honest, convenience often wins out. My promise to myself and my children is to try harder – make smarter grocery choices, change my modes of transit when possible, and instil these values into my daughters.
I’d love to hear how you work towards decreasing your carbon footprint. Maybe you do something that will inspire me to be better! Share with me in the comments.
A good list. I think we all go through stages where the balance between sustainable living and not, moves more to the “not” side for a while. Plastic packaging was starting to creep up for us, but I’m knocking it back again. #MMBC
It’s important to pay attention to things like packaging – but sometimes convenience does win out. Getting back to focusing on these things will always help. Thanks Cheryl!
I love all of these ideas! I have moved to Europe and I find that I really like not owing a car and being closer to nature. One think my daughter and I did last year was to go WOOFing (volunteering on an organic farm). We lived in a tent with no electricity except one light and a battery pack we had to recharge every 4 or 5 days. It really made us conscious of how much electricity we were using! Our tent was our little home and we loved it!
That sounds like a great experience! I’d enjoy trying that out. And it’s so good to do things that make you realize maybe you don’t need as much “conveniences” as you currently use on a regular basis.