We all want to do the best for our children, especially when it comes to protecting their health and the environment in which they live. As a new parent, it is often hard to know what is best and how to do it. In fact, the best tips and knowledge often come to me from discussion with other friends and neighbors. This realization inspired me to start a neighborhood-based group focused on eco-parenting and environmental issues in general. My vision was to bring together an active and engaged group of parents in my neighborhood to learn together about local environmental issues and find out how to take action in our own homes and in our community.
As our group was getting started, we applied for and received seed money from the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board’s Community POWER program and the Linden Hills Neighborhood groups’ Environment Committee. We also wrote articles in the neighborhood newsletter, displayed posters at local businesses, distributed fliers at neighborhood events, and recruited friends at the local park.
The EcoParents’ first meeting served as a forum to refine our mission and goals and identify topics of interest and confusion for the 16 people in attendance and the other 20 who had signed up online. Some of these topics were: improving recycling, learning about plastics safety, greening the holidays, non-toxic personal care, reducing waste, hosting green parties, non-toxic lawn care, and understanding household hazardous waste.
During the monthly meetings we emphasized the importance of creating a supportive, encouraging, empowering and non-judgmental space for people to ask questions and learn, and to focus on what we can do instead of what we shouldn’t be doing. We also created a blog and a Facebook group to keep people connected. The Linden Hills Eco Parents group now meets monthly. We usually host a guest speaker at a free local venue and often utilize printed educational materials already available for no cost through the city, county, or other resources. We have also formed a partnership with a local eco-friendly business, which routinely provides items as door prizes and incentives.
After nearly a year of monthly meetings, we found our biggest challenge has been finding meeting times that work for the busy schedules of parents, but there is no shortage of interest or local resources! At each meeting, there are familiar faces as well as new ones, parents and non-parents, both from and beyond the neighborhood. Not only have we all learned something, but we’ve all done something and made positive environmental changes in our families and local communities. Participants are now making their own non-toxic cleaners, recycling more (and separating correctly), reducing waste, avoiding dangerous chemicals in plastics and personal care products, utilizing non-toxic lawn care practices, and much more!
Resources for Eco Parents
- Sprout: Find local green merchants and get deals at sproutmn.com
- Sign up for a CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) to get safe, local food, landstewardshipproject.org
- MindfulMomma: a great local blog about green parenting, mindfulmomma.com
- Linden Hills Natural Home, for all things green for your home, lindenhills.coop/store