“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!
If you want to know where to begin…
PBS has a nice top-10 list of tips to start off as a green parent. Most are pretty simple, but they do include bigger picture practices like carpooling and turning up your thermostat in the summer.
Ed Begley Jr.’s Living Like Ed is a funny and straight-forward guide to being more environmentally sustainable. I especially like that he rates the different actions by how easy or difficult they are.
The Department of Energy’s EnergySaver website focuses on how you can save energy in your home, from home heating to appliances.
The All You Need is Less column in the Guardian is over now, but had a great mix of tips and social exploration of the green movement.
No Impact Man can get kind of eye-rolling at times (how did he wash cloth diapers without a washing machine?!), but it has some good reflection on the good life for those of us who tend towards eco-despair. He also has a baby, unlike a lot of the other “eco-memoirists.”
If you’re already green, but looking for kid-specific information…
Green Mom has some solid posts on living sustainably with kids, especially about minimizing consumerism. I particularly like that they include information on kid-specific environmental politics, such as a post on the teenagers suing the U.S. federal government over climate change.
The Zero Footprint Baby can get preachy at times, but has some good advice on adapting the green lifestyle to living with a baby.
The EcoHappiness section at Happy Science Mom shows how living the green life with children can be more fulfilling, with posts about throwing Earth Day parties, gardening with kids (yeah, that’s my post), and nature play.
The Green Mama has a lot on minimizing indoor air pollution and reducing consumerism.
I have a bunch of posts on green parenting, from getting your kids to eat vegetarian more often to teaching them composting.
Being sustainable isn’t (just) about saving the polar bears – it’s about ensuring everyone has a healthy world to live in. Living in a green way means we need to respect our neighbors’ needs, including facing up to racism and economic inequality. Learning Liberation, A Striving Parent, and Mamacademics all provide a great introduction to parenting with social justice in mind.
If transportation is your big challenge
DOE and EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov provides the fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions for every car available in the U.S. going back to 1984. It also has a great run-down on the differences between hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars.
My family biking resources page has links to loads of bloggers with personal experiences, product reviews, and tips to make biking with your kids as much fun as possible.
If you want to teach your kids about being green…
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Students’ Guide to Climate Change website covers everything from the science to what kids can do to reduce their own carbon footprints. Check it out before the EPA gets defunded! (Edit: The EPA took this page down “for revisions” barely a week after I linked to it! Grrrrr.)
PERMIE Kids has an amazing set of resources on nature and community-based learning, with a focus on holistic sustainability. She has multiple curriculums that include tools, techniques, and activities for a variety of ages.
Parent.Co has a great list of “10 Books to Read To Your Kids About Climate Change Because Science.” I seriously have to check these out, hopefully from the library.
Renewable Energy: Discover the Fuel of the Future has great reviews and what look like some awesome hands-on activities that teach science and sustainability. (Disclaimer – I used to work with one of the co-authors. Now she lives in a different country, so it’s not exactly an influence on its inclusion on the list.)
50 New Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth is an update of the classic that drove my environmental activism at the tender age of ten.
If you want to make some big, big changes…
Gaia’s Garden is the definitive introduction to backyard permaculture. Permaculture is about growing food and living life based on ecological principles and structures. The book can be a little overwhelming but has some great information.
Toolbox for Sustainable City Living is a guide for those who are considering going as hard-core eco-friendly as possible. The suggestions range from the relatively simple (rain barrels) to the intense (recycling human waste – seriously). What’s neat about it is that the activities really are designed and adopted for those of us who live in less rural areas.
What are your favorite resources for living the eco-friendly life that aren’t listed here?