Wednesday 18 October 2017

Green Parenting

Although the Nineties brought with it mainstream environmental awareness, eco- warriors, bottle banks and the recycle bin, it may surprise you that your blissfully unaware parents in the Seventies and Eighties were probably more in tune with Mother Earth.

Library image. Photo: Getty images
Library image. Photo: Getty images

Marie Boran

WHEN it comes to adopting green parenting practices, being environmentally aware is not the same thing as being environmentally friendly, says green parent and ' mumpreneur' Claire Lancaster, founder of Dandelion Lounge, a personalised stationery service with a focus on families.

" If you asked my mum raising a family in the Seventies if she was 'environmentally friendly' she wouldn't have been able to answer the question, simply because the term would have meant nothing to her," says Lancaster.

But in the Seventies, her mother opted for reusable terry-towelling nappies, walked everywhere, purchased from a local farm and greengrocers and didn't go abroad for holidays.

" We were a one-car family until 1980," says Lancaster, and all of these practices combined would be considered green choices nowadays.

" Parents are more environmentally aware now, but I would suggest less environmentally friendly. Buying organic and recycled/recyclable alternatives makes a difference, but if you use disposable nappies, drive two cars and get on a jet plane once or twice a year, your alternative product purchases pale into insignificance on balancing your carbon footprint when compared to the 1970's household!"

The eco parent

Green parenting is a conscious lifestyle choice, but in 2010 practices such as recycling are almost regarded, or at least should be, as a lifestyle given, refl ects Lancaster.

" If you're throwing it away, bin it appropriately, it's not hard and there is no reason for anyone not to be doing it," she adds.

"Awareness about environmentally friendly practices has been inherent amongst children from the Noughties onwards – my two and a half year old knows what can and can't be recycled and what goes where."

Bringing up your children in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible involves considerably more choices than simply binning your recyclables. There are the areas of nutrition, holistic treatments and therapies, as well as pregnancy and childbirth to consider, but the best place to start is at the source, if you will.

The biggest cause for environmental concern amongst green parents is the disposable nappy. In 2007 there were 70,620 births in Ireland. If each one of these bundles of joy wore several nappies per day, this would mean well over 300 million disposable nappies in landfi ll sites around the country, not to mention all the pre-potty trained babies born in the previous year.

Like all other products containing plastic, these take hundreds and hundreds of years to decompose, so the fi rst choice for the green parent should be to invest in cloth nappies that can be washed and reused or disposable, biodegradable nappies made from natural, plant-based materials.

A selection of these nappies can be found on www. mumandme. ie and www. ecobaby. ie.

Positive lifestyle changes

All aspects of your life are impacted by having a family and you might not think that things such as fuel consumption are related to green parenting, but carefully choosing your nursery, holidaying locally with your family and going for a green family car can make all the difference.

" We have cut our fuel consumption by two thirds by doing our shopping online and having our main shopping delivered. For fresh fruit I've gone with a local farm that I walk to and we decided to change my son's nursery to one within walking distance of home, thus eradicating six 30-minute drives per week.

As for our carbon footprint, we opted to holiday in Cornwall for the past three years and have had great 'staycations'," says Lancaster.

If you're concerned about carbon emissions you are not necessarily limited to the stereotypically compact electric car because as these cars become increasingly mainstream they

are beginning to cater for families and not just green-minded individuals.

One such car, the Toyota Prius 1.5 T3, is a full hybrid electric car that gets a remarkable 66 miles per gallon and has the lowest CO2 emissions on the market at 104g/ km. However, the best thing about it is that it is a large family car ( although boot space is, admittedly, a bit limited).

Eating well

One of the first pit stops for the environmentally friendly mother and father is to re-evaluate the foods they feed their baby and toddler and not only to make an effort to buy organic, but also to ensure that a green diet is a nutritionally balanced one.

An episode of US medical drama House aptly portrayed concerns that parents have when switching over to ethical lifestyle choices such as veganism. While this particular episode overly dramatised and suggested that vegan parents run the risk of starving their children, there are two sides to this.

Responsible parents will be aware that an adult vegan diet is vastly differently to that of a baby or toddler, but this advice goes for all parents – vegan, vegetarian or meat eating.

" I do buy and feed the children organic milk and foods and if we're out and about I feed them ready-made organic baby food," says Lancaster.

The right remedy

What about natural remedies for pain relief or baby illnesses?

When in doubt, always consult a doctor, she advises. However, from pregnancy through to childbirth and from your baby's first day onwards there are many treatments and alternatives for common ailments.

" I used homeopathy throughout both my pregnancies and labours and also used hypnotherapy recordings from www.tums2mums. com with my second child.

" Both my children received Bowen Technique ( a form of hands-on healing therapy) treatments on the day they were born and regularly had Bowen treatments and osteopathy [ this strengthens the musculoskeletal system] during their first year."

Lancaster also recommends Teetha homeopathy sachets for teething and arnica cream for bruising.

" Babies are born so pure I believe if I can minimise the manufactured chemicals input to their systems the stronger and more robust their immune systems will be."

For parents looking to expand their ' green' skills the Organic Centre ( www.theorganiccentre. ie) runs courses throughout the year on everything from using herbs medicinally and preserving your own fruit and vegetables to saving energy in your home and dyeing with natural colours. WHEN it comes to adopting green parenting practices, being environmentally aware is not the same thing as being environmentally friendly, says green parent and ' mumpreneur' Claire Lancaster, founder of Dandelion Lounge, a personalised stationery service with a focus on families.

" If you asked my mum raising a family in the Seventies if she was 'environmentally friendly' she wouldn't have been able to answer the question, simply because the term would have meant nothing to her," says Lancaster.

But in the Seventies, her mother opted for reusable terry-towelling nappies, walked everywhere, purchased from a local farm and greengrocers and didn't go abroad for holidays.

" We were a one-car family until 1980," says Lancaster, and all of these practices combined would be considered green choices nowadays.

" Parents are more environmentally aware now, but I would suggest less environmentally friendly. Buying organic and recycled/recyclable alternatives makes a difference, but if you use disposable nappies, drive two cars and get on a jet plane once or twice a year, your alternative product purchases pale into insignificance on balancing your carbon footprint when compared to the 1970's household!"

The eco parent

Green parenting is a conscious lifestyle choice, but in 2010 practices such as recycling are almost regarded, or at least should be, as a lifestyle given, refl ects Lancaster.

" If you're throwing it away, bin it appropriately, it's not hard and there is no reason for anyone not to be doing it," she adds.

"Awareness about environmentally friendly practices has been inherent amongst children from the Noughties onwards – my two and a half year old knows what can and can't be recycled and what goes where."

Bringing up your children in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible involves considerably more choices than simply binning your recyclables. There are the areas of nutrition, holistic treatments and therapies, as well as pregnancy and childbirth to consider, but the best place to start is at the source, if you will.

The biggest cause for environmental concern amongst green parents is the disposable nappy. In 2007 there were 70,620 births in Ireland. If each one of these bundles of joy wore several nappies per day, this would mean well over 300 million disposable nappies in landfi ll sites around the country, not to mention all the pre-potty trained babies born in the previous year.

Like all other products containing plastic, these take hundreds and hundreds of years to decompose, so the fi rst choice for the green parent should be to invest in cloth nappies that can be washed and reused or disposable, biodegradable nappies made from natural, plant-based materials.

A selection of these nappies can be found on www. mumandme. ie and www. ecobaby. ie.

Positive lifestyle changes

All aspects of your life are impacted by having a family and you might not think that things such as fuel consumption are related to green parenting, but carefully choosing your nursery, holidaying locally with your family and going for a green family car can make all the difference.

" We have cut our fuel consumption by two thirds by doing our shopping online and having our main shopping delivered. For fresh fruit I've gone with a local farm that I walk to and we decided to change my son's nursery to one within walking distance of home, thus eradicating six 30-minute drives per week.

As for our carbon footprint, we opted to holiday in Cornwall for the past three years and have had great 'staycations'," says Lancaster.

If you're concerned about carbon emissions you are not necessarily limited to the stereotypically compact electric car because as these cars become increasingly mainstream they

are beginning to cater for families and not just green-minded individuals.

One such car, the Toyota Prius 1.5 T3, is a full hybrid electric car that gets a remarkable 66 miles per gallon and has the lowest CO2 emissions on the market at 104g/ km. However, the best thing about it is that it is a large family car ( although boot space is, admittedly, a bit limited).

Eating well

One of the first pit stops for the environmentally friendly mother and father is to re-evaluate the foods they feed their baby and toddler and not only to make an effort to buy organic, but also to ensure that a green diet is a nutritionally balanced one.

An episode of US medical drama House aptly portrayed concerns that parents have when switching over to ethical lifestyle choices such as veganism. While this particular episode overly dramatised and suggested that vegan parents run the risk of starving their children, there are two sides to this.

Responsible parents will be aware that an adult vegan diet is vastly differently to that of a baby or toddler, but this advice goes for all parents – vegan, vegetarian or meat eating.

" I do buy and feed the children organic milk and foods and if we're out and about I feed them ready-made organic baby food," says Lancaster.

The right remedy

What about natural remedies for pain relief or baby illnesses?

When in doubt, always consult a doctor, she advises. However, from pregnancy through to childbirth and from your baby's first day onwards there are many treatments and alternatives for common ailments.

" I used homeopathy throughout both my pregnancies and labours and also used hypnotherapy recordings from www.tums2mums. com with my second child.

" Both my children received Bowen Technique ( a form of hands-on healing therapy) treatments on the day they were born and regularly had Bowen treatments and osteopathy [ this strengthens the musculoskeletal system] during their first year."

Lancaster also recommends Teetha homeopathy sachets for teething and arnica cream for bruising.

" Babies are born so pure I believe if I can minimise the manufactured chemicals input to their systems the stronger and more robust their immune systems will be."

For parents looking to expand their ' green' skills the Organic Centre ( www.theorganiccentre. ie) runs courses throughout the year on everything from using herbs medicinally and preserving your own fruit and vegetables to saving energy in your home and dyeing with natural colours.

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