Thursday, February 25, 2010

Story: A Greener Life

by Designing Mom Contributor Erin

One of the questions I was asked to explore as the "green" mom on this blog is how to get your kids involved. From my experience, it is often our children who are coming home demanding more of us and motivating us parents to recycle more, think about the earth, consider composting. But before that, there has to be something within the child that causes them to care in the first place. Before any of us commit to changing the way we do things there has to be something inside of us that causes us to care, otherwise no matter how much statistical data on carbon emissions or consumer consumption is thrown our way, we won't have any real impetus to act.

So what is it that thing, that motivation, and where does it come from? I've thought about this a lot and the only real conclusion I've been able to draw, is that the motivation can only come from a true love of what we are protecting and that for most of us, this love is developed when we are children. I think growing up on the West Coast makes it easy to feel connected to nature. In Seattle where I grew up, I woke every morning to trees, Lake Washington and the mountains beyond. The geography became a part of who I am to such a degree that I don't feel at ease when I am far from the water for too long. Our family vacations were often centered around experiencing nature-trips to the rain forest in Costa Rica, Glacier Bay in Alaska, the Great Barrier Reef, Bandhavgrah National Park to see the tigers in India and many trips around the Pacific Northwest to the beaches, rain forests and mountains within a couple hours' drive. So rather than these locations being nebulous ideas, they were tangible places that I became attached to through experience. Because of the world we live in, I have also seen first hand the effects of clear cutting, over development, poverty, pollution and exploitation on these places. Without these memories, I don't know if I would care as much.

It doesn't take trips around the world to make this message personal, though. At least I hope not, since I doubt I will be able to provide my children with those same vacations. For us, now living in the Bay Area, it means day trips to Muir woods, a weekend at Lake Tahoe and lots of time spent at many of the beaches on the bay and up and down the coasts. Hopefully, our talks about bugs and birds and fish will turn into conversations about finite resources, conservation and protecting what we love. I thought this would be a good topic to begin our "green" postings because this is really the start to any "green" discussion: How do we make decisions, in our daily lives, that express the value we place in our environment and our health, as individuals, as a family, as a planet?

I'd love to read about what some of your favorite memories in nature are and how your attitude towards the environment was effected by the way you were raised, either positively or negatively.

1 comment:

Three Owls said...

I grew up in the forest of BC and my daughters are as well so it is easy to fit green into our lives, I spend a lot of time wild crafting and teaching the girls to identify plants and their naturally leads to respect and wonder, I think to just be out in the fresh air and sunshine does more than anything, and making conscious consumer choices and being able to explain the reasoning to your children...they seem to 'get' it more readily than the commercial culture.

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