Can you have a large family and a small carbon footprint?
Fact A: I’m a 40-year-old mom of five kids, ranging from 2 years old to 20 years old. My large family is not because of “religious reasons,” nor was it an “accident”: it is just how my story is playing out and I wouldn’t change it if I could.
Fact B: I’m a person who has been actively trying to “green” my family’s life for over a decade now. I want to maximize our health, I want to limit our waste and negative impact on the environment, and I want to raise kids who care about doing the same.
Although fact A and fact B both describe ME, sometimes it feels like they are contradictory. Can you raise a large family and live a green lifestyle? After all, one of the trends for living a green lifestyle is to limit the number of children you have or even forgo having children altogether. The idea, of course, is that fewer people mean less harm to the environment. As true as that is, it doesn’t offer much guidance for those of us who are in up to our eyeballs raising families, especially big ones like mine!
Raising a Big Family is Hard
I know how easy it is when you have a full, busy life, to fall back on what is convenient and common instead of what is healthier and eco-friendly. I’m always searching out new strategies for managing this busy household with all these growing kids I have. SO many of the ideas out there involve things like pre-filling a bunch of plastic baggies with snacks going into the week, or using paper plates for meals instead of regular dishes so you can just throw them away after dinner. While I can certainly appreciate that being easier, it is not healthier, cheaper, or greener, so it’s not the kind of idea that I find very helpful.
Being Green Isn’t Easy, Either
Trying to learn more about ways to reduce our waste and damage to our environment is also important to me. Maybe its important to you, as well. There are a lot of suggestions out there that involve being very extreme or absolute in your eco-friendly endeavors, such as going 100% plastic-free or not using any paper products. These are awesome and noble goals to aspire toward, but when you are raising a big family and you hold yourself to those standards, it’s easy to feel as if you have already failed.
It is easy to feel like you shouldn’t bother trying because small changes you make won’t make a difference.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
When you think about the effect that YOU have on the health of your family as well as the impact on our planet, it is a little mind-blowing. More people in your family can either mean more garbage produced, more disregard for the environment, more toxins, OR it can mean less of all of it. I’m going for “less.” You also have an incredible opportunity to teach these little people you are raising to be adults who are mindful of their environment, how it can affect them, and how they affect it.
Are You Still With Me?
Because I have been at this parenting thing for half of my life now, I am excited to be able to share what I’ve learned and what I continue to learn with you. I’m really just raising five kids and doing my best to help them become good adults. Our “eco-friendliness” and “non-toxicity” aren’t perfect, but we do try our best because it is important. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas, too. And if you’re interested, I hope you will follow my blog!