As parents, we face a number of unique challenges when trying to raise our children. Not only are we striving to help make them happy, healthy, and well-adjusted, we also have the unique challenge of also trying to instill green, eco-friendly habits into them, as well.
It’s no secret that we live in a single-use, planned obsolescence society. Wastefulness seems to be encouraged, and a lot of media advertising seems to target our children directly. Fortunately, keeping your kids safe doesn’t have to be an impossible task. By following these five tips, you can be confident that your children will stay on the right track to learn lasting, sustainable habits and remain healthy and happy, too.
Shop the Perimeter of the Store
When you enter a grocery store, probably the first thing you see is the rows and rows of shelves, stacked to the brim with plastic and cardboard packaging. Not only are the contents of these packages likely full of junk that doesn’t have any real health benefits, but those packages themselves are also terribly wasteful, too.
Instead, steer yourself and your little ones toward the perimeter of the store. There, you’ll find fresh produce and other healthful foods to include in your weekly menu rotation. If possible, try to skip over conventional produce, or at least aim to avoid the “dirty dozen.” Even better, try to look for foods that are local and in-season to help minimize your carbon footprint.
Spring for “Meatless Mondays”
Whether or not you choose to eat meat is a largely personal decision. Ethics of a plant-based diet aside, there are many environmentally conscious reasons why you should consider skipping eating meat once or twice a week. For instance, it takes 2,500 gallons of water and 25 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef.
Going flexitarian also has many health benefits, too. Studies have shown that people who do not eat as much red meat tend to have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and can live a much longer life. Even giving up one or two portions per week can reap many health benefits.
Consider Alternative Transportation
Keeping your gas tank full isn’t just expensive, it’s also terrible for the environment. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource, which means that it’s more important than ever to look into greener modes of transportation. While trading out your SUV for a hybrid can be a good start, there are also other modes of transit that you should consider.
Take, for instance, your own two legs. Going on walks with your children is a fantastic way to introduce them to gentle cardiovascular exercise, and it can also help them burn off some energy while they’re at it. If you’re just going a few blocks away, why not ditch the car and walk with your children? Other great options can include bikes, roller skates, and even skateboards.
Look Into Natural Supplementation
One of the best ways to keep your children healthy is by making sure they eat right and exercise. However, despite doing your best to feed them a balanced diet, many kids still fall short on their recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for many vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients are essential to help ward off colds, infection, and even other serious health concerns (like anemia, stunted growth, and weak bones). When in doubt, don’t be afraid to take them to the pediatrician to make sure they’re on track. Doctors do more than just try to negotiate insurance contracts and send medical bills; they’re also there to help keep you and your family healthy, too.
Banish the TV (And Their Phones)
It’s perfectly understandable to worry about the detrimental effects of television and mobile devices on your child’s development. While there certainly can be educational programs for them to peruse, there can also be too much of a good thing, too. Furthermore, spending too much time in front of the TV or their phones can also impact their social skills.
Instead, spend a couple of nights a week away from the TV. Perhaps you can take them to a local petting zoo, instead. Or if you like, walk over to your local park and let them have a little fun and run around. A nature hike is also a fantastic way to introduce them to the beauty of the world and show them why our planet is worth preserving.
It’s Okay If You’re Not 100% Perfect
While trying to teach your children good habits can seem initially daunting, it’s absolutely worth it when you see them blossom into healthy, happy, well-adjusted individuals. And by following these five tips for a more green, sustainable lifestyle, you can be sure that you’re giving them a great early start in life, too!