Archive | Green Parenting RSS feed for this section

Back to school the green parenting way.

12 Jul

school

The summer holidays are now so close I can almost taste that freedom from the school run! Those glorious six weeks when there is less rushing around, less packed lunches to make and less general stress and chaos in the house.

Now is the time that we generally start to think about purchasing school uniform, shoes and other supplies but is there a way to do this that is kinder to the planet?

Source second hand school clothes.

New school uniform is a costly business. Why not reuse and recyle instead? You could ask around to see if friends have any that they wish to sell. Many people will just be glad to pass them on to a good home for free. You can often find second hand school uniform in charity shops. The benefit of children growing so fast is that they normally grow out of their school clothes before it gets damaged.

Make a list of what you really need before buying more.

The shops are full of new school bags and lunch boxes at this time of year but do you really need to buy more? A quick stock take before you hit the shops could save your wallet and the planet.

Eco friendly school supplies

If you do need to invest in more folders, bags or pencils – there are eco friendly alternatives. You probably wont find these in your local supermarket but you can source them on line. We love these canvas backpacks from Mibo.

canvas bag

Longer lasting and better for the environment than the alternatives which normally contain PVC. They also stock some beautiful pencil cases made from organic cotton. I have my eye on the seal one!

seal pencil case

Green Office also have a vast supply earth friendly products.

Cut down on food waste

A comprehensive study carried out by WRAP suggests that over a school year a total of 55,408 tonnes of food waste is generated by primary schools in England and 24,974 tonnes by secondary schools, giving a total food waste weight of 80,382
tonnes. Although it was difficult to differentiate between waste from cooked school meals and packed lunches, the policies within the schools suggests that the vast majority came from cooked meals. This is because the majority of food waste from packed lunches is taken home.

What can you do to help cut down on this waste? Well a packed lunch is a good place to start. You can see exactly how much your child has eaten each day. If they are bringing home uneaten food it can sometimes be reused (depending on the food item of course). It may be that you are packing too much for your child to get through during lunch time and you can therefore adjust the quantities accordingly.

Reusable lunchboxes and drinks bottles are much better for the planet than single use, disposable options.

Ditch the sandwich bags.

Check out these gorgeous alternatives to sandwich bags. They are made from non-toxic environmentally friendly materials, are machine washable and they take up far less space than a lunch box. You can use them for a variety of items, not just sandwiches. For more information, check out this great review on the Kids of The Wild Blog.

Buy second hand books

You will often see used text books in charity shops. If you need a particular one then ebay is a good place to start. Or again, you could ask around friends if they have a second hand one that they would be happy to sell or pass on.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all a lovely summer holiday. Fingers crossed for some sunshine!

 

 

Advertisements

Adopt a Donkey for a special Christmas gift this year.

13 Dec

 

socks-are-overrated

Are you fed up with unused toys cluttering up the house? Do discarded gifts get you down? Why not purchase an unusual gift this year that will really benefit someone?

The Donkey Sanctuary Adopt a Donkey scheme is a wonderful gift idea for people of all ages. We are lucky enough to have an adoption scheme with Eeyore who lives at the Donkey Sanctuary in Ivybridge. Our lovely Auntie Audrey adopts him for us every year and we love to read his updates and also to visit him a couple of times a year.

Many of the donkeys rescued by the Sanctuary have experienced neglect or abandonment, and the adoption scheme ensures that they will never want for warmth, care or food again.

In addition to caring for the donkeys, the Donkey Sanctuary also provide Donkey therapy to children in the UK and internationally. They support projects in 35 countries worldwide! For more information on their work, please visit their website.

It costs just £24 to adopt a donkey for a year and the adoption pack includes:

  • A framed portrait
  • Four beautiful postcards
  • A certificate and their donkey’s story
  • Regular updates about their donkey

You can also visit your donkey for free at the sanctuary.

adoption-pack-tiny-tin

Cycling holidays with children

10 Aug

skim-3Cycling holidays needn’t involve weighty rucksacks and endless cries of “are we there yet?” Cycling with children can be so much fun. It takes the stress out of holiday traffic, will save you money and will guarantee that the children will sleep well at the end of the day.

There are holiday companies who will arrange a cycling holiday for you. They will provide bikes, maps and accommodation and will pick you up at the end of a day’s cycling to take you back to your hotel. There’s no need to break the bank though. If you are on a budget you can organise your own break using some of these tips.

Find a good base. Whether that is a tent, a cottage or a holiday park, ensure that you are in the right location for all the best bike routes. A good way to research this is to look up cycle routes and then find a base that is centrally placed. This Sustrans Book lists all the best routes along with an idea of the level of expertise required.  It will also point out good places to stop along the way, or detours that you can make to extend your day.

Plan your days out. Agree as a family on where you would like to visit, how many hours you will spend cycling etc. Do some research on your chosen cycle route. Are there cafes or playgrounds that you can visit along the way? Will you go via a beach where you can eat a picnic? Are there some lovely gift shops in the area where the children can spend some pocket money?

Know your limits. Stick within your capabilities as a family. You may yearn to go racing off on a 20 mile coast to coast but if your 3 year old is still plodding along on a balance bike then you just know that is going to end in tears.

Have the best gear that you can afford. Pannier bags are a great investment. It takes the strain off your back and means that you can load up with lunch, snacks, drinks, spare clothes, nappies, maps, more snacks.. you get the idea.

Use suitable bikes. Children and adults need bikes that are the right size for them. If you are not sure ask at your local bike shop. Your leg should be almost fully extended when your pedal is at the lowest point, otherwise you will start to feel the strain.

Balance bikes are a great first bike and we cannot recommend them highly enough. They teach your child from the off that cycling is all about balance. Stabilisers will just give a false sense of security and when you take them off they will have no idea how to balance.

For babies, the Weeride or a similar front-facing seat gives your child the best views and enables you to feel more connected to them during your ride. We also felt much safer with this frame-mounted seat as it does not affect your center of gravity and cause you to topple over.

weeridecollage

Weeride bike seat

Be prepared. Make sure that you carry with you a puncture repair kit, mobile phone and first aid kit plus enough food and drinks to fend off any child/adult meltdowns.

There are some areas which we have tried and would recommend. The Peak District is a fantastic base and my blog post from a couple of years ago has lots of information on this. I would also recommend basing yourself near The Camel Trail in Cornwall. This is a very flat, family friendly route and is great for days out to Padstow. Exeter is also a good base. This cathedral city offers everything you need for a fun day out with a huge choice of amazing restaurants. The City Museum is definitely worth a visit! From Exeter you can take the Exe Estuary Trail to Dawlish or Exmouth. A really lovely route, some of it is on quieter roads.

We’re heading to France this year and basing ourselves in Burgundy with access to many cylce routes via the Canal du Nivernais. We will let you know how we get on! Which family cycle routes would you recommend?

Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting

17 Sep

book cover

We were recently sent a copy of a new book which is due to be released in October. The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting is a refreshing change from some of the ‘preachy’ parenting books that we find on the shelves. The book gives ideas and inspiration for raising your child in an eco way.

It is delivered in a fun and practical way, yet is still backed up with research and ideas for further reading. It is humorous, colorful and imaginative and very easy to read. It includes information on natural play, an eco-friendly home and garden, foraging, tips to avoid screen time, making greener choices for your family and many more.

It gives ideas for small or large changes that you can make and recognises that you don’t need to implement all of them to make a difference. There are simple projects such as making bird feeders or designing a bog garden.

This book confirms that you don’t need to be perfect to be a green parent, you just need to get outside, have fun and get muddy!

book spread

Teaching children budgeting and money saving

17 Sep

At 9 and 6 years, our children are now at an age where they have some concept of ‘earning money’. We recently introduced pocket-money, in return for small jobs around the house. They help with dusting, vacuuming  and generally keeping the place tidy. It is still a struggle getting them to ‘muck in’ but the chance to earn some pennies has definitely been an incentive.

They are very good at saving their money rather than spending it. We have always tried to encourage them that it is better to save up for something special rather than spend money for the sake of it.

Budgeting is one of the many things that our children need to learn on the road to adulthood. Here are some painless ways in which we can do this.

Teach them the value of money. Talk about how much things cost, even things like holidays. Also talk about how you have to work hard for money and how you need to save just as hard to be able to pay for nice things.

Show children how to earn money. Giving them the chance to do simple chores in return for pocket-money is a good introduction. We have a poster which shows how much each job pays. They know that the bigger, more difficult jobs will pay more money.

Let them make decisions regarding their money. I say this hesitantly but they need to do this to some extent to be able to learn the consequences. If they blow all their pocket-money on sweets it is going to take them a long time to save up for that DVD that they wanted.

Have a fun place to save. Thomas has a Star Wars R2D2 Talking Moneybank
which makes noises every time you put pennies in. He loves it and every time he has money it always goes in here. You could also make your own piggy banks or decorate ready-made ones as we did.

blank pigs

Piggy Bank by Lily Age 9

Piggy Bank by Lily Age 9

 

Thomas' "Super Pig" design. I'm still finding glitter in the carpet!

Thomas’ “Super Pig” design. I’m still finding glitter in the carpet!

The bonus with these piggy banks is that they were decorated with bits and pieces that we had around the house. Another money-saving lesson there!

 

 

Making a home for frogs

11 Dec

When I emptied out our tomato grow-bags recently, I was amazed to find a total of 3 frogs and two toads hiding in one of them! I’m so glad I wasn’t over-enthusiastic with my garden fork! They seem to love living in our greenhouse and we find some in there every year. At certain times of year our garden is full of toads and frogs. I’m guessing they like the fact that the garden is normally full of wet leaves and is not tidied up as often as it should be. I’m always surprised to find them hiding in the flower beds and under leaves, rather than in the pond.

frog

 

toad-close up

As I wanted to give our greenhouse a good clean out, we decided to make our frogs and toads a little home. They needed a little encouragement moving in but they look quite happy in their new pad! You just need an old terracotta flower-pot which can be half-filled with some wet leaves. We are going to try to find a little tray to place in front of their ‘frog lodge’ to make a little pond for them.

frog-lodge

Have you created any animal habitats in your garden?

What exactly is Green Parenting?

20 Oct

free-range children

The other day I was chatting to a mum about my blog. She was intrigued as to what exactly green parenting is so I thought I would ramble on for a bit about my perspective on this.

For me, being a ‘green parent’ is a combination of being conscious of the environment and parenting in the most natural way that I can. I don’t embrace everything that is eco or natural, it is about what works for us as a family. For example, breastfeeding my children was always important to me and I managed this with both Lily and Thomas, fighting tooth and nail to overcome the pain and discomfort that I suffered in the first few weeks. However, some aspects of natural parenting just fill my with dread. We have never been a co-sleeping family and we never could be. Green daddy and I can barely function on disrupted sleep and I honestly think that we are able to be better parents because we don’t have a wriggly snoring child in our bed at night. That’s not to say I don’t agree with it, it’s just not how we do things.

What else do ‘green parents’ do?

Limit their effect on the environment. We buy second-hand when we can and pass on toys/clothes to friends so that they are not wasted. We never throw anything away unless it no longer has a use or cannot be used by someone else. We keep things until they are broken.

We teach our children about recycling We actively recycle at home but we also explain WHY we recycle. We encourage the children to think about passing on toys when they no longer want them, we talk about how compost is made and why we make it and we often up-cycle things that we have around the house. Basically, we try not to waste anything.

Eat organic food. OK, I will hold my hands up here and admit that we don’t shop for organic food. If money was no object then we would but it is simply too expensive for us at the moment. However, we do grow our own organic fruit and vegetables as much as possible. This means that we are helping the environment and also teaching our children about the benefits of growing your own food. As you can see in my previous post, you don’t need a big garden to grow a few veg!

Use cloth nappies As an ex real-nappy advisor, I can rant on about cloth nappies for ages but needless to say they will save you lots of money and you will not be sending hundreds of nappies to landfill. Cloth nappies can be used for 2 to 3 children, meaning the financial savings are huge! Disposable nappies take hundreds of years to rot down so the nappies you use for your children will still be in landfill when your children have grandchildren!

Limit screen time We don’t ban our children from watching television but we do limit what they watch and how often they watch it. Our children play so well using their imaginations that they don’t need ready-made entertainment on tap. They make up their own fun and their own games and I’m sure this is partly because this is what they have always been used to.  A recent report from Public Health England showed some worrying results:

  • higher levels of TV viewing are having a negative effect on children’s wellbeing, including lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness
  • children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression

Enjoy the great outdoors We love getting out and about during our free time. As a family, we enjoy the simple and natural things in life. Whether that’s walking in the woods, cycling, beach-combing or skimming stones on the river.

To me, all of the above things make a ‘green parent’. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few points so feel free to add any in the comments!