Parenting for a Greener Future: How to Shrink Your Carbon Footprint

Updated: August 16, 2023 | Published:

Life gets busy as a parent. You juggle many responsibilities as you seek to raise and nurture your child, but you may still desire to do what you can for the planet. From how you upkeep your home to your choices at the store, you can implement many simple changes to encourage a greener future.

When you prioritize caring for the environment through changes like minimizing your carbon footprint, you do your small part to keep the earth healthy for your children. Here are a few tips to implement in your everyday life.

How to Shrink Your Carbon Footprint

1. Buy Fewer New Clothes

Producing new products results in high carbon emissions. One area where this concept is especially apparent is the fashion industry. Clothing may seem harmless, but carbon emissions from the fashion industry rival those in aviation.

When you have young kids, you likely buy clothes often as they outgrow their current wardrobe. One way to reduce your environmental impact is by buying used clothing. An abundance of online and brick-and-mortar thrift stores offer many clothing options. Also, save your child’s good-condition clothing for younger siblings to wear as they age, or donate clothes that won’t fit any of your kids anymore.

2. Unplug Unused Electronics

With a few little ones, you might have several sources of entertainment to keep them busy throughout the day, including a few tablets or gaming devices. Try to monitor when you plug these devices in rather than leaving them charging all the time. Use a single power strip for devices to allow easy monitoring and power shut-off when needed. By watching when you plug in devices, you’ll reduce energy consumption and the production of carbon from power plants.

3. Limit Single-Use Items

Single-use plastics account for more than 3% of energy production in the United States. As a parent, you might rely on disposable plates, straws, and snack bags because they are easy to use. A few simple swaps can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Try reusable versions of typical plasticware. For example, aluminum snack containers make a great alternative to a standard sandwich bag.

Single-use goes beyond plastics. One situation you may run into often is paper products like wipes and paper towels for cleaning messes or dirty hands. Cloth towels are a simple alternative; you can wash and reuse them repeatedly.

4. Make Your Cleaners

Being a parent means dealing with your fair share of messes across every room, from the kitchen to the bathroom. Cleaning products often come in single-use plastic packaging, contributing to higher carbon emissions. Reduce your impact by using reusable containers and making cleaners at home.

You likely have many homemade cleaner ingredients in your cupboards already. You can also use the same cleaner for multiple surfaces, saving you money and storage space.

5. Carpool to School

The average passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly. One way to reduce your carbon emissions is by finding ways to drive less. If you have school-aged children, carpooling provides an excellent solution. Team up with other parents and create a driving schedule so that only one vehicle goes to the school daily. A bonus of this method is you’ll save time by reducing your time in a car each week.

This tip also works for situations beyond school. Maybe your kids play in a city soccer league, or your child is going to a friend’s birthday party. Talk to other parents about sharing the driving responsibilities.

6. Shop Local Food

Instead of stopping at your nearest grocery store, pick up some of your kids’ favorites at a local farmers market or roadside produce stall. These locations offer fresh and delicious fruits, vegetables, and other goods, encouraging a healthy variety in your child’s diet. They also reduce carbon emissions by avoiding transportation from a faraway farm or orchard.

Shopping locally also lets you step outside your comfort zone and your typical menu. You get the chance to seek inspiration from what you find and to eat food with the seasons. You and your kids will enjoy that first tomato of summer or a fall pumpkin pie.

7. Buy Online Thoughtfully

While you manage a busy household, you might shop online to add convenience to your everyday life. You can reduce your carbon emissions while enjoying online shopping benefits by thinking before you order. Rather than buying one item every day, make a list throughout the week or month and get everything at once. This method reduces the packaging and transportation needed to reach your home.

Save the Planet for Your Kids

From buying locally to reducing your energy consumption, you can take many steps to reduce your carbon footprint. Many of these tips offer simple changes that build to create a significant impact on your kids and the planet. As your kids grow, they’ll see your commitment to the planet and learn to implement these tips, creating positive change for future generations.


About Amy T. Smith

Amy is a mother, writer, and your go-to expert for real-life insights into parenting, health, and lifestyle. Amy holds a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and prides herself on finding actionable tips and relatable tales.

Through her blog, AmyandRose, she supports you from pregnancy to the teenage years, offering assurance that your experiences are shared.

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