My Kids, The Planet and My Wallet

Having kids has caused me to re-examine my lifestyle and make some changes. I think that’s true for most people, really. For me, some of these changes have been philisophical. I want a good future for my kids, so I work to make the world a better place. Some of these changes, on the other hand, have been very practical. For example, I pack a bag with spare clothes everywhere I go, because being without these things at a critical moment is no fun. Been there, done that, had to take the kid home in a borrowed diaper and a winter coat.

Some of my more practical changes have actually made my lifestyle more sustainable. This surprised me, because in general we look at having children as an environmental negative. After all, you’re creating entirely new people. In my case, two entirely new Canadians, with some of the biggest ecological footprints of anyone in the world. But, as it turns out, even having kids hasn’t been an all-or-nothing decision for me, environmentally speaking.

Here are just a few of the ways that having children has led to a greener lifestyle for me.

  • I don’t drive nearly as much as I used to. Before kids I worked full-time, and on the weekends sometimes Jon and I would go on a leisurely drive just for fun. Enter one child who hated the car seat and maternity leave followed by a reduced work schedule, and my driving went way down. I accumulate mileage at about half the rate I used to, and I have my kids to thank for it.
  • All buckled in for a trip
    Getting two children into car seats and ready to go is an ordeal I don’t enjoy

  • My idea of a great outing is to a neighbourhood playground. Not only does this further reduce the time I spend in the car, but it means that I’m not shopping or even using electricity. Before I brought two small children with me everywhere I went I used to visit the mall for fun. Now I avoid it at all costs, and I buy less in the process. Less consumption for me also means less impact on the planet.
  • Having a heart to heart
    Hannah and Jacob at the playground

  • I do much more cooking from scratch since I had kids. I want my children to eat healthy foods, and so I try to avoid processed and packaged foods as much as possible. I also don’t enjoy the idea of taking my little ruffians precious angels to a restaurant, because it’s really just not a good time for me. The result is that I buy a lot of staple foods now, and use them to make home-cooked meals for my family. This is easier on the planet, since the food isn’t produced in an energy-intensive processing plant, and I often buy locally-grown foods as well.
  • Hannah all dressed up and reading recipes
    Hannah playing chef

  • I buy stuff second-hand. Kids grow quickly, and live hard. The last thing that I want to do is invest a lot of money in their wardrobes. I turned to second-hand stores to help, and in the process re-discovered how great they can be for myself. It’s like a treasure hunt every time you visit, and you can find some fabulous items that just aren’t in regular stores. And second-hand stuff is easy on the earth, because no new resources are used to manufacture it.
  • Outside the Value Village
    The kids outside our local second-hand store

  • I use my local library far more. I returned to the library originally for their great, free children’s programming. Regular library visits have since become a routine for our family. Borrowing books is not only fun, it’s easier on the planet than buying all new books of your own.
  • Quite an elaborate game
    Hannah playing at the local library

    The great thing, though, is that the changes that I’ve made aren’t just easy on the planet, they’re also easy on my wallet. Gas is expensive, so using less saves me lots of money. The playground and the library both offer free family fun. Staple foods are far cheaper than packaged foods or restaurant foods. And, of course, buying second-hand will always cost less than buying new.

    Sometimes living a more sustainable lifestyle can seem expensive. Organic food costs more than its conventional counterpart, for instance, and a stainless steel water bottle costs more than a plastic one. And, in honesty, it can sometimes cost more to make the more sustainable choice. But it doesn’t always, and that’s the great news. Sometimes the most sustainable choice is just to do less. Buy less, do less, re-use what you already have. And that pretty much always costs less, too, which is something to be happy about no matter how you look at it. I’d like to thank my kids for teaching me that particular truth.

    This post is part of the November Green Moms Carnival, on saving money through green means. You can read lots of other great posts on the topic over at Condo Blues.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
    Be Sociable, Share!

      Comments

      1. It’s amazing how our kids help us grow and change. I’m far more eco since having kids, it just seems more important now.

      2. Hi Amber~
        I can relate to, well, everything in this post! What a great way to remind people that greener doesn’t always mean more expensive. So many people complain that they can’t afford to be green, but these tips are proof that anyone, people with or without children, can economically reduce their carbon footprint!
        Have a great weekend!
        ~Michelle
        .-= Michelle´s last post ..10 Things I Really Meant to Blog About… =-.

      3. I’m in total agreement with your statment that “sometimes the most sustainable choice is just to do less”. Less doesn’t equal nothing. But less means that even if it costs $1 at the thrift store, if I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. Less ultimately means valuing more what we have already. Hmm, I get a sense that I probably took off a tangent here away from the main line … oh, well, you know me:)
        .-= Francesca´s last post ..The strange case of the heirloom pumpkin =-.

      4. what a great blog post and what a great affirmation to begin my morning with (which is when i read thru blogs on my google reader list).

        my only bugbear is that living where i do, i now drive more than i did when in Kits but i’m hoping to remedy that matter in the next couple of years
        .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..as a reward …. =-.

      5. This is a superb post! I relate to all of it, every single point made.

        Thank you for reminding me how much I AM doing to reduce my consumption (even if most of it is a side effect of having rambunctious kids that don’t mix well in adult environments, and also the side effect of reduced income and reduced disposable cash thanks to rambunctious kids’ expenses)
        .-= *pol´s last post ..Positive Influence =-.

      6. Hi Amber,
        I just want to echo what everyone else said and thank you reminding me that being eco friendly does not have to cost more! Sometimes it does, composting bags are an item I never had to purchase before the city decided to compost, purchasing a compost for my garden, yard waste bags, fees to dispose of electronics and recycling bins to name a few. All are worthwhile expenses but simply living does not have to cost a lot. You’ve also reminded me of something important I never considered before I read your post. I gave up a good job because I had to commute an hour each way, I gave it up so I could be closer to my kids and so they could spend less time in daycare everyday. I’ve had my regrets as my new job, albeit closer to home (10 min commute) and the same pay, it is not as secure. Now I can feel good because I also saved the environment a lot of fuel emissions! Have a good weekend.

      7. I’ve experienced something very similar since having my kids.

        After Jack {2yo} was born, I accidentally found out about cloth diapers. Before that, I didn’t really know anything about cloth diapering and why it made so much sense {for my wallet and for the environment}. After thoroughly researching and understanding, it was like the floodgates opened up and I began to learn so much about making more environmentally-friendly choices.

        Now that we have our kids, we do a lot of things differently. We use rags instead of paper towels, glass containers instead of plastic containers, we buy dry goods in bulk and produce/eggs from the local farmer’s market in order to make healthier food with little-to-no packaging, we also drive far less and only own one car, and we clothe our children in mostly hand-me-downs/second-hand clothing.

        I find that this kind of lifestyle is much more peaceful and relaxing. I *love* it and could just go on and on. But I’ll stop. ;)

        Great post!

      8. Well said. Although my Mom deserves the bulk of the clothes credit, since she sews most of my kids’ stuff. And then we hand it down to multiple smaller people. In the bargain, we get to stick our tongue out at certain people who read No Logo by Naomi Klein and get all snotty about clothes with words on them because ha! it’s from Grandma! and at the worst it has an upside down Batman logo on it! Or a backwards red S!

        I should calm down. I’m in the midst of a small baking crisis.
        .-= Allison´s last post ..***************Oh Where oh Where has my Consciousness Gone? =-.

      9. Wow! well done and the accompanying photos are delightful. I love your thoughtful sharing about going green.

      10. That’s such a great way to look at it. Thanks for the reminder of how kids can help us be more frugal & more environmental rather than necessarily the other way around. I’m with you on the bundling kids into car seats hassle — and I have just the one!
        .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post ..Conversations with myself =-.

      11. You and I seem to have had a similar reaction to having kids. Since having kids we now walk more, go to the parks with playgrounds, visit the library, and cook healthier meals at home. On the whole I’m pretty happy with our situation and I’m very happy to have lost my 1.5 hour commute to work (each way) five days a week. The only thing I really miss? The restaurants. We used to go out at least once a week. Our kids (mostly my son) just can’t behave long enough for us to enjoy a meal out. At least his poor behavior saves us money!
        .-= Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)´s last post ..Romano Bean Soup and Mayonnaise Biscuits =-.

      12. I can totally relate to the clothes issue. I’ve been able to almost totally avoid buying clothes for my littlest one – my MIL works with a woman who’s son is a year older than ours (even born at the same time of year) so we’ve been getting all his clothes! Hooray!
        .-= Laura´s last post ..Learning from your kids… =-.

      13. I soooo relate to the challenge of getting everyone out the door and into the car – definitely not worth it to just browse the mall. Crayon based activities are so much less expensive than Nordstrom-based activities, that’s for sure.
        .-= Lady M´s last post ..Non Sequitur Theater Continues =-.

      14. Couldn’t agree more, having kids made me think of things in different ways, in a different light… to set the right example for our children!

      15. We have been blessed by my sister-in-law who kept ALL the clothes from her 2 boys. Before “T” was born we inherited boxes of clothes, toys and kid kitchenware. Lots of great stuff, still in great condition.

        Since then my younger sister-in-law has had a baby (another boy). So we sent everything we had back to Calgary for her to use. We now have a great 2 way transit systems from older SIL to us and then back for younger SIL. A few items have been discarded along the way, and some added by those spoilerish grandparents.

        This has saved us hundreds of dollars and contributed to a smaller carbon footprint as we buy almost nothing – and then we usually try to buy used. Plus I don’t have to spend much of my time shopping.

      16. Love the pictures of the kids! Though spoiler alert: as they get bigger, and start doing sports, going to music lesson, etc. the driving will pick up again. Carpooling was a lifesaver for me.

      17. Jeanne of EcoLabel Fundraising says:

        So true! So true! So true! You know, I cloth diaper. It started because I didn’t want the diapers to end up in a landfill, but now I secretly love doing the extra laundry knowing how much money I’m saving! Yes, the not piling the kids in the car is a major motivation for staying home for us, too!

      18. And nothing beats the smell of all those books in the library!!!
        .-= Jen´s last post ..Featured Site – Samantha’s Art Studio =-.

      19. I don’t have kids but I can see how it would make you want to make lots of green changes.

        Oh and libraries are great! :)

      I love comments! If yours doesn't appear immediately, it was caught by my spam filter. Drop me a line and I'll rescue it.

      Trackbacks

      1. momshare.net says:

        » My Kids, The Planet and My Wallet Strocel.com…

        Having children is often seen as an environmental negative. But my kids have helped me to make more sustainable, eco-friendly choices, and saved me money, too. …

      2. [...] Amber- strocel.com: My Kids, The Planet and My Wallet [...]

      Share Your Thoughts

      *

      CommentLuv badge

      Subscribe to followup comments