8 Ways to be a Green Parent

While I think we should treat every day like it’s Earth Day, the official day to celebrate our planet is April 22. Here’s how I share my love for Mama Earth with my little one, Vienna, and ways that you can too! Read on for my best planet-friendly tips.

8 planet friendly tips for green parents

1. Go plastic free.

I’m making a concerted effort to curb my family’s plastic use, and you can too. It always amazes me how these simple changes can make such a big difference.

• Start packing your lunches and leftovers in food storage containers made of lightweight steel, bamboo, ceramic, glass or silicone instead of plastic (especially single-use plastics).
• Bring your own water bottles and tumblers when you’re on the go to avoid using a single-use cup. This may mean being a bit more prepared, but it’s worth it.
• Say “no” to plastic straws for cold drinks.
• Bring your own bags to the supermarket and farmers’ markets. Don’t forget to bring bags for the produce and bulk section, too.

2. Reuse and recycle.

• When purchasing packaged foods, be informed about what’s recyclable and what’s not. My daughter, Vienna, loves Love Child Organics’ purees, and we love knowing that the product we are purchasing can be recycled through TerraCycle. You can read more about Terracycle here.
• At home, we also like to reuse glass bottles and jars for food storage.

3. Use recycled materials for arts and crafts.

There are a million ways to create with boxes, cardboard tubes and egg cartons. Help repurpose “waste,” and even encourage your kids’ schools to do the same!

4. Eliminate food waste by using whole foods

When I roast a chicken, for example, I’ll use up the leftover bones to make a delicious and nourishing broth. Or when I make juice, I’ll use the leftover pulp in a smoothie or freeze it and use it later. In situations where you don’t use the whole food (non-edible peels or leftover tea leaves, for example), make sure to compost!

5. Make your own cleaning products.

Discover the magic of essential oils, baking soda, and lemon to create eco- and child-friendly all-purpose cleaning solutions. Chemicals used in conventional products can be harmful to our environment and ultimately come back to us through our drinking water and the food we eat. There’s a reason you see a skull and crossbones on many household cleaning supplies sold at the hardware or grocery store.

6. Whenever possible, walk or cycle instead of driving.

We walk Vienna to and from school every day, and try to do most of our errands on foot. It’s a great way to spend quality time together and we always feel energized being outside. This leads me to my next point…

7. Spend time outside (yes, even in the wintertime).

Going outside teaches kids to appreciate and love nature. Research shows the incredible benefits of spending time outdoors, including increasing the feel-good serotonin in our brains, alleviating stress and depression and boosting our energy!

8. Shop second hand, and donate your gently worn clothing.

One of the bittersweet signs that your kid is getting bigger is seeing how quickly they outgrow their clothes. Babies and toddlers especially seem to need a new wardrobe every few months. Unfortunately, the stats on clothing waste are staggering: Canada itself contributes 12 million tons a year of textile waste dumped into North America’s landfills! Keep clothes out of the landfill by donating, selling or swapping gently used items, and buying from secondhand shops.

Above all, remember that caring for Mama Earth doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. Simply going to the park or enjoying a meal loaded with seasonal veggies is an amazing way to show your love for the planet!


Joy McCarthy is the Founder of Joyous Health, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and best-selling author. A trusted nutrition expert, Joy has been featured in hundreds of publications both online and in print; and is a regular health expert on TV. Through her innate drive to inspire others, Joy has created numerous online programs and eBooks under JOYOUS U and is a faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. Joy lives in Toronto with her husband Walker and their daughter Vienna.