Parenting Green: Make Yourself Re-useful

Lead by example and develop new habits in reusing materials

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. But do it from reusable water bottles.

I know this to be true about water bottles… They make you drink more water; especially when they’re new, and you’re a kid. It’s worth it to me for our kids to get excited about the purchase of a new one, especially now that summer is finally here. I often forget in those first weeks about switching gears into full-hydration mode, and making sure that everyone is drinking enough water. Without fail, getting a new containment method for liquids provides enough entertainment that even I have fun drinking more.

There are so many choices of BPA free plastic ones and gloriously colored stainless steel ones, you’ll be sure to find your muse. In the $15-30 sticker price, you might convince yourself you’ll be done buying them because they last forever, but they also get lost so easily. (Maybe they’re all where I left my reusable bags.) Then I think about all those moments when I want a cold drink when I’m out and about: an iced coffee, or chai, or a smoothie from the cafe. These are ALL moments we can hand our reusable container over the counter and have it filled up.

I just learned (after purchasing my latest Kleen Kanteen) that in the US people throw out 200 billion paper cups and 25 billion Styrofoam cups a year. I know I have tossed my fair share! They started this pledge, and I really like the adage: ‘Refuse Single-use!‘ For 30 days they challenge you to commit to reducing the single use plastic, paper, and other disposable items you use., including cups, bottles, utensils, straws, plastic bags, razors and plates. With potlucks, barbeques, beach day picnics, and travel filling our summer days, I know this will indeed be a challenge. There will be plenty of opportunities to choose reusable products in those moments over single-use items, but certainly there is the balance of when the convenience wins over the former.

It’s kind of like remembering to have your reusable grocery bags in the car (not in the mudroom) so that they’re always there when you’re not planning ahead for a shopping trip but wished you’d brought them. Maybe leave a couple drink containers in the car as well so that when you stop to get everyone a cold beverage they can put it in their reusable drink container instead. The cool thing about this type of habit, is that when it’s modeled in front of kids, it will become their habit (caution: this also holds true for any negative habits we model for our kids, of which I too am aiming to get better at).

The Clean Air Council says that every year Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. It’s true that we are all contributing to this to some degree, and sometimes it does feel like when our one paper cup hits the trash today that really, what’s it going to matter? I guess we’ll never know, but if I’m going to stick around to find out I’ll be sure to bring my reusable container to the show.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture 
and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.

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