Eco-mamas and papas, I know you’re tired. We’re working, feeding our kids, being their teachers, friends, and entertainers, and trying to keep them (and ourselves) healthy. That’s not even talking about cleaning, cooking, exercising, connecting with our partners, family and friends.
However, it’s never been more dire for all of us to band together to take action for our children’s futures. Public health policy director at Moms’ Clean Air Force, Molly Rauch, says, “This is not a time to sit back.” When I spoke with Ms. Rauch via Zoom, she said, we can’t let the Biden/Harris administration fail, or get lax on promises. We need to carry the message that “protecting our children’s health and future is top priority.”
Here are five easy climate actions parents can take for Earth Day to protect our kids’ futures.
When it comes to activism follow your kids’ interests
For years, I dragged my kids around the planet to meet change-makers protecting the planet from our climate emergency expecting them to become the next Greta Thunberg. I’d get frustrated when they didn’t seem to care about ancient food systems in Hawaii, water capture in the Amazon, plastic activists in Latin America. But then one day my older son came home from school excited about wolves, saying he wanted to see them. After a ton of research, he told me we needed to go to Yellowstone to see wolves.
1500 miles later, we were in Yellowstone trying to spot them, learning about the scientists who reintroduced wolves to the national park and the legislators trying to pass a bill allowing people to hunt wolves. Back home, he started a campaign to educate his classmates about wolves, wrote letters and pushed against this legislation on his own.
Our kids care. We can simply connect them tools to learn about and attend to the environmental issues that speaks to them.
Be a squeaky wheel at your local school
We’ve seen the impact of misinformation and a lack of critical thinking regarding our climate crisis. So, when I found out my sons’ 4th grade class had no science or environmental education, I found a local environmental educator whose program addressed state standards. I brought his proposal to the PTA, and luckily, they funded it. If they’d have said no, I would have done a fundraiser to pay for it. Together, let’s make sure every kid has a science-based environmental education.
Use that social media addiction for good
Peter Hjemdahl, co-founder and chief marketing officer of RePurpose Global, a plastic-offset organization, told me via Zoom that “the real reason [companies work with us] is because consumers ask them to make a difference. Every single month,” he added, “send an Instagram DM to your favorite brand and ask what are you doing about this?” He said that customer feedback is tracked and just “three comments asking the brand to go plastic neutral or use biodegradables goes up the ranks to customer service and the marketing team. Your ask makes a world of difference.”
We can do the same for our politicians too. We’re all addicted to social media, so why not use that addiction for good? Molly Rauch, public health policy director of Mom’s Clean Air Force urges us to tweet directly to our legislators about climate issues that directly affect our communities. We can remind them that they work for us and it is their job to take action to address issues that directly affect us.
Commit to a year of earth-first acts
It’s up to us to be the adults we want our kids to become. We’re not going to be perfect. But we can aim to be better.
Though corporations have created our climate crisis, we can act as models for our kids to show them we’re placing the planet first. This year, how can you consider the environmental effects of your individual choices? This might include your purchases, home renovations, eating, voting, travel? When you place the environment at the core of each decision you’re showing your kids what matters to you. And in this way, attending to the Earth will matter to them.
Get out into nature
When you love something, you fight for it. To remember what’s worth fighting for, we need to inspire our kids to have a relationship with nature. In this way, we also get to reward ourselves for our work. Getting outside helps our mental and physical health. Being in nature helps us connect with the planet, ourselves and our kids. No matter where you live, no matter what the season, go outside with your kids and marvel at the resilience of the natural world. It will inspire you to keep fighting for what matters.
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