Can You Care For Children & Care For The Environment At The Same Time?


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A while back, I was having a conversation with friends who have two small children, both under 5 years old. We were discussing how difficult it is to raise the children, what with both of them working full-time. I don’t have kids myself, but I can empathize with just how busy their life is. Somehow this conversation turned to what I publish here on The Good Human, and they said that while they can appreciate my eco-efforts, they don’t have time for all that “green” stuff now that they have kids. “We barely have time to take a shower once a day, never mind properly recycle or reduce our dependence on disposable products,” the mom said. “Our primary goal right now is raising our kids properly, not making sure we live as green as possible.” I hear you, of course it is! Who could ever argue that someone’s kids are the priority? Not me!

However, those kids are the ones that are going to grow up on this planet.

If we, the “responsible” adults, don’t take the initiative to make sure our planet is as healthy as we can make it, where does that leave the kids? Sure, they’ll learn about recycling and chemicals in school (unlike us), but depending on their age it’s going to be a while before they are out there on their own making their decisions about how to treat our world. That means it’s up to us to do the right thing, and that includes doing so while raising our children. If we show them that we’re too busy to clean up after ourselves, what lesson does that instill?

It’s everyone’s job to do the right thing.

Regardless if you have children, are planning on having children, or are planning on being childless, it’s up to every single one of us to work hard in order to ensure that the future of humanity doesn’t have to suffer because of our negligence. This is not a time for selfishness. Everyone is busy living their life, but we all have to find the time to do our part, regardless of our situation.

Your kids and grandkids will inherit whatever world you create and leave behind for them. You can care for children and the environment at the same time. In fact, your children are depending on you to do so.

*Note – my friends and I had a lengthy discussion about this and they decided they needed to do more, seeing it as a positive thing and not a drag. Sometimes, just a few words of encouragement is all anyone needs!

Image from BigStockPhoto

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  1. I hear your friends. I have 3 children. They are now 10, 8, and 8 (twins). It can seem overwhelming and like you don’t have time. In the beginning it may not be clear what to do to be green. And when you have 2 children under the age of 5 and you work – you don’t have time or maybe more accurately the metal energy to figure it out.
    Keep plugging away. Once my children were about 6, 4, and 4, I actually went full force into the green FOR them. You are very lucky to have a friend in The Good Human!
    Good luck!

  2. I totally understand the time it takes to be a parent, but when we make green living a priority, it eventually becomes second nature. We wouldn’t skip evening bath and reading time, would we? Can we skip it, sure.. should we.. absolutely not! My kids pick up trash wherever they go,recycle everything they can, and even understand what organic means. They have grown up learning how to be eco-conscious, and it is one of the best gifts I can give.

  3. Before I interject my opinion, one thing I have heard from every parent is that every kid you add to the family, the chaos doesn’t just double, it goes up exponentially. Since I only have 1 child, it’s tough for me to say what I would have time for if I had more kids. Also, my green habits were built in before the kid arrived, so they were already ingrained, making the transition easier.

    That said, I don’t see much validity in the argument of being too busy to deal with the green stuff. Recycling, composting, taking time to buy the right products make take a few more minutes out of your day, but to say you’re too busy is a cop-out in my opinion.

    There have been some sacrifices made though. We wanted to use a greener alternative for diapers, but there’s really nothing that can hold up to the top name brands. Every diaper I toss in the trash makes me cringe because I know it’s going to sit in some landfill for eons, but if we didn’t use them, the mess left over would be ridiculous. Instead of throwing diapers away, we’d be using excessive amounts of water, gas and electricity to keep everything clean.

    We still have plenty of time to deposit recyclable goods into a separate can and take all of our organics waste and put it in the composter. In fact, we recycle and compost more stuff than we throw away. Yes it takes time, but the benefits, whether realized directly or not, far outweigh the effort.

  4. Completely possible. We have two children – 6 and almost 2. Until recently, we both worked full-time (more than full-time many weeks).

    We still managed to cloth diaper, compost, recycle, and breastfeeding cut down on a lot of waste. We practiced part-time infant pottying with our second child, which cuts down diaper issues even more.

    Are we super-human? Not by a long shot. And we’re not super-green either although we keep trying. But as a previous poster said, you make it part of your life and it becomes routine. Not every green choice is feasible for every family (not everyone can breastfeed, not everyone has laundry facilities for cloth diapers), but a little bit of effort can make things a lot greener.

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