Dani Schaffer, founder of “The Mom Confidential” podcast, shares steps parents and kids can take to reduce their carbon footprints.
When New York City native moved to the west coast, it was an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve lived in many places, and no place seems to care for sustainability and environmentalism quite like California,” explains the mother of four and “City Girl Gone Mom” blogger. “It’s part of the fabric and culture here to care about the ocean, the land, and the earth. It’s contagious.”
One step at a time
Schaffer credits her husband Bobby, the first certified green dentist in San Diego, for teaching the family about sustainability. She says making the decision to commit is half the battle, and starting small is best.
“You don’t need to revamp your entire way of living by the end of the week. Think about immediate changes you can do now. Swap your traditional detergent for something eco-friendly. Or start using refillable cleaning products. Use cloth towels that can be washed and reused instead of paper towels. Find a few small changes you can make and start now.”
A learning experience
Schaffer says you should talk to your children about why you’ve chosen to live sustainably.
“Let them know it’s helping the animals, the earth, the water, and the air. Now my kids see it as a fun way to help the environment, and a lot of these are very easy changes that anyone can employ, even my youngest. What I love most about encouraging my kids to join me in our effort to live sustainably is that they are learning life lessons they’ll carry with them. My husband and I are instilling values they will hopefully take with them through life and pass on to their children.”
A change in menu
While Schaffer’s family does enjoy eating beef, they’ve learned to cut back.
“My kids love to come up with recipes and help us cook for Meatless Mondays, so it’s a fun challenge to come up with meals we’ll all love. One year, we even created an entire vegan Thanksgiving meal. Some of our favorites are carrot ginger soup, lettuce wraps, and a lentil kale dip that my kids would eat with a spoon if I let them.
We also make sure we’re always buying energy-efficient appliances and doing everything as clean and green as we can. In our daily life, buying things that are ethically or sustainably-sourced is so important.”
Schaffer says it’s about teaching children little habits they can do every day. For example, using the right amount of toothpaste and turning off the water when they brush their teeth. Or making sure they learn what can be recycled, composted, reused, or tossed.
Developing a green thumb
“One big change we made once the pandemic hit was that we started our own family garden,” says Schaffer. “We grow lots of little veggies and herbs. We let the kids help us plant vegetables and flowers by breaking up the soil, then designating a plant for each of them to look after. This continues the bonding beyond the first few days. Each day, we check up on the crops together as a family and enjoy the tasty results.”
Every little bit helps
“I know in the grand scheme of things, it might seem like recycling your milk carton is insignificant. But what if we’re all recycling them? Everything we do has an impact. I always teach my kids they can influence real change, all by themselves. How many water bottles have we saved by switching to our reusable stainless steel ones? Can we ride our bikes instead of drive? Should we swap our burger for a veggie patty? Little changes equal big differences,” Schaffer explains.
“Working together with your family toward sustainability is an amazing, fun way to bond and work together while also teaching your kids life skills that will stay with them. I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it. I want my kids to know what they’re doing matters, and together we’re making a difference.”