Moms teach their children a variety of lessons as they grow up – from how to tie their shoes to the importance of spending quality time with loved ones. As we get ready to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, Earth911 couldn’t help but realize that many of the values our moms imparted are actually very eco-friendly – whether Mom was an enthusiastic eco-advocate or not. From finding new uses for scraps others might have thrown away to encouraging us to stand up for our beliefs, here are five green lessons our moms taught us.
1. Family and friends are more important than material possessions
You know your mom would like nothing more than to spend some quality time with her kids this Mother’s Day – and would prefer this gift of time over flowers, jewelry and other store-bought presents.
This is just one of the values mothers pass down to their children that happen to be very green: Spending time with your loved ones is more important than buying the hottest new car, latest designer outfit or just-released electronic gadget.
Of course, prioritizing your friends and family and living green doesn’t mean quitting your job and avoiding new purchases altogether. But what’s better for the Earth – and your family – is to buy only items you need and think carefully about each purchase, opting for high-quality goods that will last for a long time. Remember, the first “R” of the famous “three R’s” is to reduce: When you reduce your unnecessary purchases, you end up consuming fewer resources and disposing of less waste.
In fact, this philosophy of buying only the necessities and abstaining from impulse shopping has freed up time for two eco-moms, Béa Johnson whose family strives to lead a zero-waste lifestyle and Meg Hourihan who is spending the year trying to avoid new purchases.
“Now that we’re not burdened by stuff, we have more time do things we truly enjoy. I have more time to play with my kids,” Johnson told Earth911 last year.
2. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal
No matter how old you are or how many Michelin-rated restaurants you’ve eaten in, there’s nothing quite like the comfort and warmth of your mom’s best homemade meal.
And while Mom may have whipped up home-cooked meals to save the family money or to promote better health, it turns out that home cooking is a great way to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
By steering clear of takeout lunches and frozen dinners, you’re cutting down on food packaging, including many materials which cannot be easily recycled through local collection programs – such as polystyrene foam clamshell containers or frozen food packaged in plastic bags. You can further reduce your waste when cooking for yourself by buying in bulk to avoid packaging or choosing products packaged in materials that are recycled in your community.
Cooking from scratch also gives you more control over the meal’s ingredients, so you can pick organic, free-range and local choices to reduce your environmental impact.
3. Stand up for what you believe in
Mothers don’t just impart important values to their children; they also remind their kids to actively pursue their principles and defend their beliefs when they are challenged.
If sustainability is your passion, there are plenty of things you can do in your local community, school or workplace to make a difference and make your mama proud.
To prevent usable items from ending up in the landfill, organize a citywide garage sale or bicycle repair and recycling program in your community. You can also start a food scraps composting program at your school or a recycling program at your office or apartment complex. Or volunteer your time weeding and tending plants at your local community garden or picking up litter at a local beach cleanup event.
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