People can get awfully judgemental when you tell them you’re a hippie or an eco-warrior. The way it comes out can be derisive: “Oh, I bet you believe that global warming is real! You’re so gullible”. It can be passive-aggressive: “Oh, I really respect you for caring for the environment. I wish I had the time to do more!”. Either way, if you spend too much time listening to them, you can start to feel shamed.
This, in and of itself, would be a shame. Having green credentials is not a bad thing. In fact, the more of us who stick to them the better it will be for the planet. Also, let’s be clear: Science is on your side.
So, yes, you’re green and proud. You’ll shout it from the rooftops. It doesn’t mean you make all your own furniture from reclaimed dead wood (although you can). It doesn’t mean you save the water from every bath to water the garden (though it’s a good idea). It doesn’t mean you don’t use electricity (how else would you run the power tools to make the furniture?).
There is no need to get competitive about how green you are. That in itself would run counter to the whole ethos of being environmentally aware, which is that every little helps.
If you’re doing it for an ego boost, you’re doing it wrong. You’re doing it so that you, a new mother, can hand a healthier world over to your kids.
Nonetheless, there are little signs that you’ve crossed over from being “eco-aware” to being an eco-warrior. And if you recognize yourself in one or more of the following points, then the chances are that you’re in the latter group.
You’ve Looked At School Uniforms, And Winced At The Materials
If your kids go to a school where uniforms are necessary, then you may well have looked at the items they have to wear and frowned. Materials that are still routinely used in kids’ clothing are often not great for Mother Earth.
Nylon, in its manufacture, releases nitrous oxide. That’s terrible for the planet. Cotton, in its most commonly-used form, is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops grown today. Literally anything that is described as being “stain-resistant” or “wrinkle-free” is bad too. They will have been treated with perfluorinated chemicals to give them those properties. None of that is ideal.
If you’re an eco-warrior, this may be where your green insurgent side has found a voice. The clothes you buy and give to your kids may not meet every requirement the school recommends. But they are made from organic cotton or polyester made from recycled drinks bottles.
If the principal ever calls you in to speak about it, don’t be meek. Explain that this is a chance for the school to bolster its green credentials. They can add environmentally safe fabrics to the uniform, such as bamboo and (ideally organic) wool. A win for them, and for you.
Your Child Gets A Scratch, And You Reach For Tea Tree Oil
There are countless products on the market for treating illnesses and injuries. Many of us will throw them in our basket without thinking when we’re out shopping.
These have generally not been shown to be more efficient than natural solutions such as tea tree oil. Tea Tree has countless important uses around the home and has strongly beneficial effects for kids’ health.
It is important to get a higher-grade tea tree oil if you are going to use it for cuts and scratches. Some of the more generic and cheaper brands are adulterated with other oils that aren’t good for broken skin. Ideally, you want a solution that has as low a content of cineole as possible – 3% or below is best.
If you’re a longtime eco-warrior, you’ve probably been down this road before. Like anything when applied to a scratch, tea tree can initially sting. Consider mixing it with coconut oil before application if your kids are uncomfortable with it. This is particularly smart, as coconut oil is excellent for anti-scarring.
Black Teeth Don’t Mean Decay To You – They Mean Charcoal
Many of the toothpastes currently available on the market aren’t ideal for your kids. For a start, they tend to contain fluoride – and there are a few reasons you don’t want your children to have that in their mouths. Ideally, you don’t want it for yourself, either.
Among those reasons is Fluorosis, a condition caused by excessive exposure to fluoride. It can cause flu-like symptoms in children along with regular headaches. If your child has been complaining of symptoms like these, stop using your current toothpaste right now. If their symptoms clear up, then you have your culprit.
Ironically, given that fluoride was initially put in toothpaste to help strengthen the teeth, it doesn’t even do that. It can lead to crumbling of the enamel and damage that cannot be repaired.
Instead of messing around with chemical-based options, you’re better off using charcoal. Yes, that’s right, the black stuff. Although it looks bizarre in the mirror, it does work – the reason being that charcoal soaks up impurities. You may have heard of it being used as a dietary aid to soak up toxins in the body and even as a hangover preventative.
Clever stuff, right?
Your Kids Reach For Greener Options Without Even Thinking
The derisive character in the first paragraph would probably call it indoctrination, of course. If you’re a hippie mom with impeccable green credentials, the message will rub off on your kids before too long.
You may have to keep them away from the basket of essential oils you keep under the sink. They will naturally associate tea tree with healing, lavender with relaxation and lemon with a better mood. If they decide to play nursemaid to a friend who’s under the weather, they’ll still need your supervision.
There is no harm at all to raising a kid with green endeavors in their heart and mind. Responsible decisions like recycling a bottle when they are finished with it are good habits to get into.
However, if they are visiting friends who aren’t in the same habits, be careful. You may have an “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” approach to toilet flushing in your home. In someone else’s, that may be cause for barring from any future visits. Pick your moment to raise the issue with other mothers.
Giving your kids a green start in life isn’t just good for the planet. It encourages them to think about decisions before they make them. It helps them to learn a little every time they choose a food or drink option, pick out clothes or help you with the shopping. This kind of critical thinking will serve them well as adults.
Of course, remember that they are kids, and there are always going to be points of disagreement between children. Other families may not have the same values you have, and this may come up from time to time. But kids will always have those disagreements, and if your children know why they do what they do, it will make them confident.
The above examples may be things you do already. They may be things you start to do in future. In any case, you probably have a few of your own. Keep it up – making a greener planet isn’t an overnight process, but it is worth the effort. More and more people are coming around to this way of thinking – and it’s awesome to be a trendsetter.