the TAO of CHANGE

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Baby Steps to Green Parenting

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

As a parent, you’re worried about the unsustainable future your kids are bound to inherit, yet you also want them to have the “right stuff”. And sometimes, those that have the most invested in the future (parents) have the most trouble adopting a lifestyle that will protect it. We’ve all become overly influenced by media and cultural norms which can keep you from making rational, logical and yes, the healthiest decisions for your children. It applies to choosing clothing, toys, vehicles, food, activities, school supplies…and then there’s that whole diaper dilemma. Add to the mix, a typical youth enamored with what he sees on television and competes with in school and it may be tempting for Mom and Dad to throw in the green towel.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is, green-minded parents never had it so good. Resources supporting sustainable child-raising are plentiful. Start by reassessing your child’s needs and desires from the start. Trust your instincts, not advertisers or neighbors. Think back to basics and you can’t go wrong. After all we’ve learned about the dioxins and pvcs in plastics, finding alternatives in toys and bottles is a good start. Check local sources first, then shop online for organic and fairly made baby supplies. Hemp is the rage in anti-bacterial reusable diapers – check them out and learn more at a family-owned and operated business like Better For Babies.

It gets harder as the babies become “I want it now” youngsters, but hold your ground – they will thank you for it later. Keeping your kids out of harms way does not just mean on the playground or in the parking lot. Protect their short and long-term health from pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, fast food, and refined sugar/salt. If it sounds like a big job, it is – but only until you get re-acquainted with the wonderful world of organic, whole foods (and other Wise Traditions) and natural materials. Then, it’s a no-brainer that will nourish both the planet and the health of your family for years to come.

If you’ve primed your green kid in the early years, they will approach adolescence and young adulthood with a growing sense of importance and understanding, yet nonchalance, in their [sustainable] choices. Keep the lines of communication open – it’s not a done deal yet. With your support and encouragement, conservation of resources will be a comfortable habit, forming many decisions throughout their lives. There are many resources available to help you teach your kids about environmental stewardship. And hopefully, by this time, those choices and commitments will not be seen as “alternative” but as the new/old cultural norm that fosters a sense of responsibility towards people, animals and the planet.

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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