Are you a green parent or want to be one? I’ve launched a Green Parenting Facebook group just for you! Okay, not just for you, but for you and other folks like you.
The Green and Sustainable Parenting community is a group of parents and caregivers who are trying to live environmentally and socially sustainable lives. To build a clean and healthy environment for all kids, we engage in everything from lifestyle changes to political activism. We’ll be sharing thought-provoking articles, challenges, and lessons learned.
To kick it off, I’m running a contest! I’m giving away a copy of the new book Dirt is Good, about the importance of kids getting exposure to the outdoors and germs. I recently interviewed the author and his publicist sent me a copy. Head over to the Green and Sustainable Parenting Facebook group to find out more.
Bringing two small children on a trip to the grocery store is a recipe for chaos. But then to try to pack those monkeys and that circus onto a bike? Well, that requires a special kind of bonkers optimism. A kind of optimism I apparently have because last Sunday, I biked with my kids to the grocery store.
This was my thought process (substantially condensed):
“So now we can’t eat mac and cheese. Is there anything we can feed our kids?!” That was the cry heard across the land from moms and dads who read the Scary Mommy or New York Times articles on phthalates in mac and cheese. Both of the articles are based on a report put out by a coalition of environmental groups concerned about toxic chemicals in processed food. (If you want to be super data-geeky, here’s the actual data.)
As a child, I’d spend hours in my backyard poking around in the dirt. I’d pretend specific plants were magical and “mix” up concoctions. I could be alone with my imagination, whether under the giant pine tree or next to my mom’s garden bed.
But our yard doesn’t offer the same experience for our kids. It’s on a corner heavy with foot traffic and no clear place for them to play in the dirt. So I wanted to make them one – somewhere that was set-aside, just for them. After more than a year of planning – raising a new baby took a higher priority – we finally started building it this spring.
The children’s garden isn’t anything complicated. While there are some amazing outdoor play spaces on Pinterest, we had neither the space or need for anything that elaborate. We just wanted to build something that could hold some dirt. It’s really just a box. Or in fancy garden terms, a raised bed children’s garden.
As I scrolled through Facebook the day President Trump announced America was leaving the Paris accords to address climate change, I couldn’t do anything but sigh and shake my head. As a long time climate change activist, I increasingly identify with the climate scientists sinking into despair the same way the West Antarctic ice sheet is. As there was nothing else I could do, I posted a screenshot of the Weather Channel that made me laugh. That evening, I stood out on my back deck, stared at the stars, and wondered what the hell we’re doing to our children’s future.
“Mommy is going to let the people in charge know that we need to respect all people,” I told my son on the morning of the Women’s March. While I’ve been politically active for a long time, he never really knew about it. Because I so rarely miss weekend time with the kids, I wanted to let him know what I was doing and why it was important. As I and two of friends gathered snacks and pinned posters on our jackets, seeing my kids reminded me why we were doing this in the first place.
Explaining what’s going on is even more important if you’re bringing your kids along to a political event. In the case of the People’s Climate March, I knew that I had a responsibility to explain to Sprout why he was there.
From explaining why I’ve missed dinner to testify to our City Council to marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, here’s what I’ve learned about introducing kids to activism:
So proud of my munchkin.
“You’re not going to bring the kids to homeless shelters are you?” asked my husband, several years before we had kids. “Probably. We need to teach them how to help people.” He most likely rolled his eyes. But now after being married to me for a decade and living in the Age of Trump, he understands. Which is why all four of us were out in the sweaty heat this past Saturday walking in the Washington D.C. People’s Climate March.
“What does being a green parent look like?” is something I ask myself a lot and struggle with. It’s what’s behind my Green Moms Profiles and potentially the topic of a book project.
Thankfully, there are some good resources to help us be a greener parent, no matter where we are in the process. A lot of “green parenting” resources focus on health issues specific to your particular family, like cutting out plastics or chemicals in your soap. While those have a valuable place, I’m more interested in the larger scale issues, like conserving energy and minimizing greenhouse gases. While these resources aren’t all specific to parents, I think they’re all useful!
Photo courtesy of The Green Mama.
For our final Green Moms interview, welcome Manda Aufochs Gillespie, otherwise known as the Green Mama. She’s got two kids, who are ten and almost seven. Perhaps most interestingly, she lives on a remote island off the west coast of British Columbia in Canada. She blogs at The Green Mama, which you can also find on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
As this interview was over the phone, I’ve edited it a bit for clarity.