Welcome to Earth Month! This month, I’m profiling a number of “green moms” who purposely live in a sustainable way.
For our third Green Mom Profile, welcome Julie. She’s in Germantown, MD, a suburb of Washington D.C. just north of where I am. She has two kids, who are one and five years old. She’s a mentor for Vegan Outreach, a group who is dedicated to reducing suffering through the promotion of a vegan diet.
Why is it important to you to parent your kids in a “green” way?
It’s who I am. I have a master’s degree in Environmental Science. I had to weigh my own desire to conceive children against my fears around overpopulation and my family’s ecological footprint. So I’m very conscious of it.
What motivated you to care about environmental and social sustainability?
It was sort of drilled into me from childhood. Stories like The Lorax and Charlotte’s Web struck major chords with me. My undergraduate school created the Environmental Science major right around the time I got there, and I never looked back. I’m excited to do more full-time science work once my oldest starts kindergarten.
What are the biggest steps you’ve taken to be sustainable, especially as a parent?
The most pervasive one is that I became vegan when my first son was 6 months old and have been raising my kids that way too. I did cloth diapers with the older one, and am trying Elimination Communication with my second. We buy secondhand to cut down on waste.
Has there ever been a time when you felt like being sustainable conflicted with something that was best for your child?
Not too much. We might all be more comfortable in a bigger car that had worse mileage, and traveling is more stressful when food has to be so carefully planned, but I haven’t struggled a whole lot in that way.
What’s something you want to do to be sustainable, but haven’t been able to yet?
Ditch the disposable diapers and the baby food pouches. I hate the waste those things accrue but I haven’t found a way to do my life (I am a parent and part-time music teacher) without those two things.
What’s the hardest part of trying to raise kids in a sustainable way?
Being vegan is a lot more political than I anticipated. I make a huge effort with nutrition, variety and nourishment. However, I spend more time than I’d like dealing with people who don’t want to research veganism, smother me in very subjective criticism, and make no appreciable effort to heed any of the patient explanations I give about the importance, benefit, and fundamentals of the diet.
What’s the most rewarding part?
My kids never getting ear infections (knock on wood), being unlikely candidates for obesity or malnourishment, and getting exposed to such a huge variety of plant-based eating at an early age will have lasting implications. Even if they choose to eat animal products down the road, starting them off on this path is one of the best gifts I can give them.
Thanks to Julie for sharing her perspective! Check out my past profiles on Caryn Chmielewski, who focuses on natural foods and reducing plastics and Jen Mendez, who focuses on permaculture. For other parent profiles, be sure to see my family biking profiles last May!