Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
Ancient Native American Proverb
My generation and my son’s generation are at a point where we have lost the art of “waste not, want not.” The skill set of taking and using only what we need, reusing items for practicality, and being intimately aware of our carbon footprint on the earth is something we must learn. . . chances are, these things have never been demonstrated or taught to us beyond tossing a plastic bottle into a recycling bin.
As a parent, I think the greatest impact I can make to help the future of this planet is to make smart choices about green living every day.
My son won’t learn about green living through a television special or even an educational pamphlet, but he’s going to learn about growing and culling food, cooking from scratch, re-using fabric scraps, avoiding items of waste, and other green practices by learning from his mom and dad.
I grew up in the eighties where littering on the side of the road was common practice (until the famous Don’t Mess with Texas anti-litter ad campaign put a grinding halt to that mess).
Recycling wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary until I attended a girls’ leadership, math, and science camp where I turned into an eco-activist overnight (with a letter from the city Mayor to thank 11 year-old me for my fervor and passion).
Years later, I’ve toned down my passion and put it into practice with breastfeeding and cloth diapers. I’ve picked up a few sewing skills to create loving handmade gifts (instead of buying things with wasteful packaging), and I’ve learned some fun options for food preparation and stretching leftovers to improve my family’s health and to stretch our dollars.
Green living may be the “cool” thing to do these days, but if the trend ever swings the other way, I hope that my son appreciates the practicality of being resourceful and thoughtful of the earth. May he teach his children to leave this place better than they found it.
National Geographic recently published the Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents by Catherine Zandonella.
Printed on recycled fibers, this 400 page reference book gives eco-friendly and budget-friendly tips for raising baby and minimizing your footprint and toy closet.
Chapter 1 includes tips on creating a safe and eco-friendly home to purchasing and making your own household cleaners, parents are armed with tools to have a toxin-free home.
It’s not a super comprehensive guide to cloth diapers, but there’s a basic intro with extra green tips that will help a new parent get started well in this arena in chapter 6.
I like the ideas for eco-friendly holidays, parties and celebrations in chapter 9. Those are definitely times where pretty packaging and decor lead to unnecessary waste.
Beyond the home, this guide arms families with ways to introduce recycling and reducing toxins in schools (chapter 8 ) plus how to take “green” vacations (chapter 10). To urge the next generation to care about green living, chapter 5 is dedicated to that purpose.
Overall, the book is mostly positive toward breastfeeding, but on page 196, it mentions “toxics in breast milk” discussing various chemicals that mom can absorb through skin, environmental contact, or pharmaceuticals that can be passed along to baby via milk.
I thought it was a little unusual that this section of the book states, breast milk can contain toxic substances that have negative consequences to developing babies, leaving some of us to wonder if breast milk could be harming the cognitive development of babies. All of the chemicals listed below have been found in breast milk and are known to cause cognitive deficits. . . these contaminants are no reason to choose formula, however.
Unfortunately, the editor failed to mention the studies that indicated breastfed babies tested with higher IQ’s than those who weren’t breastfed. True, she’s referring to the chemicals and decreased IQ, but she links the chemicals directly to breast milk. By generalizing the statement, she makes it sound as though all breastfed babies are exposed to those chemicals, when in fact, it’s babies who’s mothers are taking prescription medications, using shampoos with phthalates, and around heavy metals and toxins. I hope that moms on the fence about breastfeeding won’t read this section of the book and think that perhaps they should use formula instead.
There’s a lot of info that’s touched upon in this book, as a result, it skims the surface of some topics that have more detailed options, discussions, and information. There are no pictures, drawings, or diagrams in this book. It is purely a text reference.
I hope the future revised edition includes pictures of the different types of cloth diapers, pictures of examples of green baby toys and party decor, and it changes the misleading negative paragraph on breastfeeding.
Otherwise, I think it’s a fairly comprehensive resource to help new parents embark on the journey of green parenting with a great start.
The Green Families Guide retails for $21.95 from National Geographic, and it’s also available through Amazon.com.
Happy Earth Day!
Your turn: How do you teach your child about green living practices? What’s the easiest (and most difficult) green practice that you do in your home?
Filed under: green living, product review | Tagged: Breastfeeding, cloth diapers, earth day, eco-conscious, green families guide, green living, green vacations, national geographic, recycling in schools, toxin-free home | Leave a comment »