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Are you kids going to live in a world as you know it

Are you kids going to live in a world as you know it

A possible vision of 2050:

Your now adult child puts on her air filtration mask. The smog alert is red again. She then hurries to get into her air-conditioned, self-driving car. She spends less than 60 minutes outdoors a week. Her cross country running days are clearly over. It wasn’t this bad just a few years ago.

You are trying to book a family vacation. Unfortunately you had to stop the summer beach vacation tradition 5 years ago because many of the ocean front houses haven’t been repaired from the last hurricane. Plus there is a 50/50 chance a toxic algal bloom will hit and make it impossible to swim again…

As you grow nostalgic, you tell your grandkids how you spent most of your childhood summer outdoors. They ask how you tolerated it, as it was above 105 most of days last summer.

Changing our behaviors today is the only way prevent that future

Sustainability is not just environmentalism, while the environment is what we most immediately think about when we consider sustainability, the concept actually includes ideas about social equity and economic development too. A more holistic view of sustainability would include ecology; keeping all of the earth’s environmental systems in balance and only using natural resources at the same rate as they are able to be replaced, economic sustainability; human communities being able to access the resources they require to meet their needs, and social sustainability which encapsulates idea about human rights, protection from discrimination and fair, just leadership.

Why is it important?

To put it simply, concerns about sustainability are centered around the kind of the world we are leaving to the next generation. This is especially important to parents who are thinking about the world that their children, and grandchildren will inherit and have to deal with. Our current environmental situation has been created not only by the choices of governments and big corporations but also by the sum of small everyday choices by individuals, so the sum of small everyday choices by individuals can also move us towards a more sustainable future.

Top sustainability tips for parents

As parents, making steps towards sustainability is important because it both impacts upon the kind of world that we leave for our children and it provides a role model for their actions as well. It can be really easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to the idea of sustainability but it’s important to remember that rather than a few individuals doing everything perfectly the world actually needs everyone doing something. Like most habit changes, adding one new practice into our routines at a time is more likely to succeed than trying to change everything at once. So, here’s a few ideas of ways that we can move towards sustainability.

Get inspired

Following influencers has many pitfalls but can also be inspiring so long as we are careful about who we choose to follow. Check out sustainable living enthusiasts like @olworldnew @solittletodo @zerowastenerd @sweetpotatosoul or @readtealeaves.

Say no to stuff

With babies and kids come a whole heap of “stuff.” Whether it’s toys, clothes or the latest gadget it can be easy to fill our home with things, but take a moment to consider whether we really need to buy all of those things. Reducing our consumption is the single most important step we can take towards sustainability.

One way to reduce wasteful buying and gifting is by creating registry lists or asking for money towards something you really need. Loads of cute baby jeans? Not really necessary, but a safe carseat? Definitely. Letting people buy things you actually need for your baby or older child lets them contribute but ensures you don’t end up with lots of duplicates or things you won’t use / don’t really need. The next time you’re planning a baby shower or birthday party you could explain that you’d prefer second-hand items, or for everyone to chip in toward a gift certificate for something to do verses something to own. Experience gifts can be bought for babies or for older children; instead of buying gifts you could request that family members buy your children dance classes, pottery painting days, a trip to the zoo or a gift card for the cinema.

Many people are uncomfortable asking for what they want specifically. It can help to explain to people in advance that we will be grateful for anything they choose to give, just for their presence if they choose not to give at all, and that our suggestions are only aimed at reducing unneeded “stuff”. You may find that there are a lot of others feeling the same way.

Go for reusable stuff

Cloth diapers and wipes save tons of waste from landfills. Literally tons! It’s estimated that each child will use 5000 diapers all of which end up in landfill and take 500 years to break down. Cloth diapers are a great way to reduce environmental impact, especially if they are used for subsequent children. The same is true for all of the “disposable” items we use.

Look for water bottles that will last a decent amount of time, and preferably are not made from plastic. Stainless steel cups and bottles are a fantastic way to cut down on plastic usage while also being durable enough to stand up to the rigors of a child’s day to day lifestyle. If you’re using bottles to feed a baby then consider glass instead of plastic, which is much more easily recycled. Packing lunches filled with ziplock bags? Why not try reusable, treated fabric ones? You can find them easily on line.

Buy second-hand

The zero-waste economy focuses on the idea of keeping products in circulation longer and children’s clothes and gadgets are ideal for this. Babies and children grow fast – they may wear outfits just a handful of times before they are outgrown so it’s easy to pick up very nice clothing second hand. Not only is this more sustainable, it’s smart too! Buying second hand saves lots of money, and what’s more once you’re done you can usually sell clothes on again and make back some of what you paid. Similarly, many toys quickly lose interest or outgrown and can be resold or passed on.

Teach respect for the environment

Teaching children respect for the environment lays down the foundations for sustainable practices in their own lives. Observing animal habitats, and seasonal change or setting up a bird bath / bird feeders are good ways for children to learn about the environment at home. We can also plant a garden, or even just a food plant or two in a pot, and have children help to take care of it and ultimately harvest the crops, teaching them a bit more about where food comes from.

Involve kids in protecting the environment

Whether it’s putting veggie scraps in a compost bin, reusing times and not purchasing new when possible, choosing glass or aluminum over plastic, recycling, simply watching the garbage collectors at work or actually taking a trip to the landfill, any of these activities help children to understand that waste doesn’t simply disappear and lays the foundation for them taking care with their own consumption habits.

Conserve energy

Teach kids the importance of conserving energy by switching off lights, using energy efficient appliances, unplugging items not in use and keeping showers short.

Cut down car usage

Set an example and use your car less, carpool, or try walking or cycling to school or to nearby shops or friends and relative’s house. Make sure to explain to children why you are doing this and how it helps our planet.

As we make moves towards sustainability ourselves the most important thing is to include our kids in what you’re doing; not only does this get them on board in the here and now but it builds their understanding ready for the future too. Kids will often follow in their parents’ footsteps so teaching them about sustainability now is also actually working towards long term sustainability!

RRC is dedicated to sustainability. We are parents too and we know it’s hard to find time for all the suggestions thrown at us these days. For us building a platform for parent sharing of resources doesn’t just make parenting easier and less expensive, it helps protect our world.

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