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9 Daily Habits to Foster Sustainable Parenting

In an era where planet Earth could use a little extra TLC, many parents are setting out to raise their little ones with a side of sustainability. These daily habits can wield a super-sized impact on shrinking your family's footprint.

Written by
Riley Baker
—with all its messes, meltdowns, and magic moments—is an incredible journey. But these days, it's not just about diapers and daycare; it's also about being eco-savvy.
In an era where planet Earth could use a little extra TLC, many parents are setting out to raise their little ones with a side of sustainability. The good news? You don't have to be an eco-warrior to make a difference. Small changes in your daily routine can wield a super-sized impact on shrinking your family's
carbon footprint
while gifting a healthier planet to the next generation.
Sustainable parenting isn't about turning your life upside down; it's more like a gentle eco-nudge in the right direction. So grab your reusable coffee mug and dive into these daily habits that'll help you parent like a sustainable rockstar.

9 Daily Habits for Sustainable Parenting

1. Change your mindset

According to
Jen Panaro
, the founder and editor-in-chief of
Honestly Modern
, when you get started on your sustainable parenting journey, it's almost more of a change in mindset than actual specific habits.
"The first thing that I always encourage is a change in mindset. Kind of what I would call putting on green-colored glasses," she says in a recent episode of
Good Together
. "When you're looking at the decisions you're making, or the habits you have, take the second to think, 'Is there a way that I could do this better?' The answer might be yes, the answer might be no, and sometimes you're just going to do the regular thing that you would have done. But maybe you'll stop and say, 'Oh, I actually think I could buy that secondhand' or 'I actually might be able to use leftovers for dinner tonight instead of buying something new.'"

2. Bring sustainability into the classroom

You can prioritize sustainability at home, but think about how many other parents would learn from you bringing sustainability into the classroom, too.
"Maybe you bring sustainability into the classroom through a schoolyard swap, or you want to create a giveaway table in the cafeteria for unopened things that kids aren't going to eat that maybe other kids might be interested in," says Panaro. "Or maybe you're doing classroom activities for holiday parties and you choose projects where you're upcycling or repurposing."

3. Make small tweaks to your meals

There are so many small changes you can make that up the sustainability of your family's daily meals. Start buying more local and
seasonal ingredients
, reduce
meat consumption
, and incorporate more plants into your dishes.

4. Always turn off the lights when you leave a room

Teach your kiddos to turn off the lights (and appliances!) when not in use from an early age. As they get older, doing so will become second nature, saving the planet and money on the monthly electric bill.

5. Resist the urge to click "add to cart"

Instead of instantly adding something to your Amazon cart, consider whether you can
shop for that item secondhand
instead. Kids grow fast, and their needs change frequently. Whether it's kids' clothing or home essentials,
thrift stores
, consignment shops, and online marketplaces offer a wide range of gently-used items that can save you money and reduce your family's environmental impact.

6. Encourage active transportation

Whenever possible, ditch the car and choose to walk, bike, or use
public transportation
. Aside from reducing greenhouse gases, it's a fun bonding experience, encourages physical activity, and can deepen a child's connection to the environment. Simply walking or biking to school together is a great place to start.

7. Take shorter showers

Considering a shower with a low-flow showerhead uses
25 gallons of water every 10 minutes
, even slightly cutting down that time can make an impact. Encourage your family to take shorter showers by turning it into a game. Set a waterproof timer, and keep track of everyone's times. Whoever takes the shortest showers each week gets a fun reward.

8. Set up a family recycling center

Create a designated area in your home for recycling bins and make it a family responsibility to sort and
recycle items properly
every day. Teaching your children
what can and cannot be recycled
in your local area will keep more waste out of landfills.

9. Foster a culture of reuse

Encourage your children to use both sides of the paper for drawing and writing, and keep a scrap paper pile for doodles and crafts.
Speaking of crafts
, see what can be
around your home before buying something new from the store. When you teach children the importance of reusing and repurposing items from a young age, you empower them to become eco-conscious, resourceful individuals throughout their lives.