5 ways to be a green parent

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credit: K Martinko -- Let them go!

Before some of you lovely commenters rush to point out the fact that having kids is inherently anti-green, can we please agree to ignore that for now? Most people have kids, including myself, like it or not. While I was not yet as eco-minded while deciding about offspring as I am today, the best I can do at this point is to raise my little people to be environmentally conscious individuals who love and care for the Earth. Here is what I’m doing to be the best ‘green’ parent I can be. I have divided my approach into several broad categories.


A child must love the natural world in order to want to protect it later in life. The most realistic way to promote this love is to spend time outside, which is why my kids have to play in the yard for hours each day, rain or shine or snow storm. There’s nothing fancy about our yard, though it does have nice trees and lots of overgrown gardens. They’ve got a treehouse from which to watch the world go by. They have a bug-catcher container in which to store (temporarily) critters that they find. They have a shovel, a sandbox, and a few designated patches of dirt in which to dig deep holes. Basically, they’re free to do whatever they want out there; they just have to put in the time.

On weekends, when my husband and I are free, we plan fancier outings. We go tenting and canoe-tripping a couple times each summer, or visit grandparents on a lake. We go to the beach on Lake Huron, close to where we live. We go on family bike rides, picnics, and hikes. We’re not an overly outdoorsy family, but we make it a part of everyday life.

I highly recommend “The Big Book of Nature Activities” by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman and Richard Louv’s “Vitamin N” for fun, practical ideas on how to get kids outside and engaging with their surroundings. The more time they spend, the easier it gets.

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