Take the Test to See How Well You’re Doing
At Apple Park, we understand that parenting in an eco-friendly way is a lifestyle change, and that it can be challenging for a variety of reasons like budgetary constraints or the culture that surrounds us. Whatever the challenge, we believe it is important to raise our children in a green environment for their health and happiness, for the example it gives to the wider community, and for the environment at large.
The following are some of the most important areas to be “green” with raising children. Rate the following on a scale of 0 to 5; with 5 being areas you are doing well and 0 areas you could use improvement.
- Organic Food: Most of the food in the house is organic, or at least the ones that are important for kids.
- Cooking: Most meals are prepared from raw ingredients. Few family meals are instant (packaged), and the children go to restaurants less than four times a week.
- Chemical-Free Home: Household cleaners, food, toys and anything the child touches are free from chemicals – especially toys with cadmium and lead!
- Living Locally: Very little time is spent in a family vehicle (as possible depending on the situation where you live). Local foods and products are purchased whenever possible.
- Using “Stuff” Well: Unwanted stuff is donated. When buying things, ensuring they are items of quality that will last 5-10 years (even age-appropriate items can be donated when outgrown rather than thrown out), or buying second-hand.
- Reducing Waste: As much as possible, the family recycles, composts, and avoids disposable items from entering the home.
- Yard: Some food or herbs are grown. Native species of trees, shrubs or grasses are present, which require less watering and attract birds and butterflies. No pesticides or fertilizers in use. If you have no yard, consider your patio, or simply rank this a 5.
- Neighborhood Involvement: Knowing the people that surround you, and engaging in group activities from time to time. As relationships develop, ecological concerns can be discussed, and the community can work on projects together – like tending a community garden or developing a vacant plot with native plants.
- Education: The children are taught important lessons throughout the day about ecology, ecosystems, and environmental issues. Note: it is important not to make kids paranoid or become judgmental of their peers, so this needs to be done sensitively.
- Plants: There are plants in most rooms of the house, ridding the air of indoor air pollutants, creating a nice green space, and giving children a chance to learn first-hand about tending a living thing.
- Water Bottle: Reusable water bottles are always used – the kids never leave home without one, and no sodas are drunk.
- Diapers: Having kids in diapers already knocks off a couple points, because of either A) extra landfill for disposables; or B) extra laundry for cloth (unless you air dry them). If kids are in disposables, take off 3 more points if they’re in chemical-laden, non-decomposing plastic ones (did you know plastic diapers could make your son infertile?).
- Energy: Household energy use is for essentials only. Unnecessary energy use is minimized – like leaving lights on, energy-hog appliances, etc. Over 80% of energy in the USA comes from fossil fuels!
- Travel: Vacations are mostly local. Long-distance travel, which uses tremendous amounts of energy, is minimized.
- Clothing: As much as possible, the children wear organic clothes without harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, Benzene, Ammonia, and Ethylene Glycol.
Add up the points and see how well you rank!
0-10: You haven’t thought much about these things yet, but it’s not too late! Make a difference for your family and become eco-friendly – you will notice an improvement in health and happiness.
11-20: You’ve thought about these things, but have a long way to go to enjoy the benefits of green parenting.
21-40: Like many parents in America, you’ve taken an interest in some of these things, because you’ve realized they are important, but you continue to live in two worlds – the American over-consumptive lifestyle and the green and healthy lifestyle. Make the choice today to put more weight on the green lifestyle, and your family will thank you for decades!
41-60: You have put a lot of thought into raising your family in a healthy environment. Good work – your family is benefitting. Sometimes, our life circumstances hinder us from doing more, or perhaps a lack of awareness of certain issues. Recognize where you fall short so that you can always be improving the world your children are raised in.
61-70: Well done! You are doing a lot to care for your family, ensuring they are healthy, happy and educated. Keep up the good work, and always be learning more.
71-75: Who are you? Do you even exist? You are The Eco-Parent we all aspire to be! Congratulations!