It may have been the least environmentally friendly decision of my life, but in 2018 I had a child. It’s an environmental topic that’s very rarely talked about in the regular ‘Top tips to reduce your eco impact’ articles, but I know that nothing will increase my carbon footprint more than reproducing!
However, I’m looking at it from the angle that this is my opportunity to ensure my son is raised with an ethos of kindness and a focus on caring for the natural environment around him. By raising children, perhaps we have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring we nurture a generation that manages to achieve what we seem to be failing at now: making tomorrow better than today.
I would like to add in a disclaimer here. Most of the time, like every parent, I’m largely making it up as I go along! My methods are very much ‘trial and error’, and I’m definitely not achieving sustainability perfection. But I’m trying to make more and more eco choices as time goes on.
Babies and toddlers seem to be surrounded by an industry that is skewed to produce mountains of cheap, cheerful and plastic tat! We buy items to use once, then throw them in the bin. So many times I’ve heard people say about putting outfits on their child and then binning them rather than dealing with the messy job of washing and reusing.
It’s also something that we can change. I’ve become such an avid lover of charity shops and actively enjoy hunting out a bargain hand-me-down! I like the thought of being a link in a chain of toys and clothes that people get joy out of, before putting them back into the system again for someone else to use. Plus, you’re raising funds for charities at the same time.
I have discovered some great eco tips – such as reusable wipes rather than wet wipes (which are binned straight after use). See https://keepitclear.anglianwater.co.uk/ for more information about the environmental issues with wet wipes. I’m a complete convert to the washable wipes, finding that they clean my child’s skin much better and are actually just as simple to use as disposable wipes.
I also try to get outdoors with my son as much as possible. Now he’s steady on his own two feet, we love to visit local woods, parks and spend time in the garden – in fact eating produce straight from the veg patch seems to have made him less of a fussy eater! Maybe a layer of dirt makes food taste nicer to him (joking, partially). I’m aiming for at least three hours of outside time with him a day, but let’s see how we get on with this when winter hits!
He’s recently discovered bees, butterflies, hoverflies and ladybirds – and the excitement he gets from following them around the garden is infectious! I’ve enjoyed, as much as him, getting down on my hands and knees and seeing these bugs and beasties close up, from a child’s perspective. Maybe that’s the key to encouraging a love of the natural world – looking at its wonders as if you are seeing them for the very first time…
While you’re here, take a look at our Wild Literacy project to see how PECT is working with teachers to show how the natural environment can be used to enhance children’s understanding of the wider world around them.
I’m really just starting off on my ‘eco parent’ journey and would love to hear other people’s tips and ideas – please do share them, I could do with some pointers!