Forward Thinking - A New Season of Sustainability
How to Create a Low Waste Future for Ourselves and Our Kids
All around the world, there is a collective understanding among parents that few could argue with regarding their kids. Whether it is a child in Nigeria, Germany or somewhere in North America, kids easily pick up and absorb the habits of those that surround them. Whether the influence is found through adults or their peers, kids act like sponges, absorbing the emotions and behaviors (both good and bad) that surround them throughout childhood. The things we learn as children often shape our viewpoints and influence our direction later in life.
As a mother, the idea that my child could be so impressionable is both equally daunting and exciting! It is overwhelming at times to think that I have the power to inform and sway the future of their decision making, along with other parents all around the world. Parenting in the year 2021 can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse.
In my role as a mother, I accept the challenge of the need for intentional parenting. Mothering out of love and not fear. Leading by example and not scare tactics. Encouraging the love for the land we walk on and the reciprocal ways we can interact with our planet.
I have always prioritized making sure my brown skin girls understand their worth by addressing the importance of having a sense of self and leading with confidence, knowing that the outside world can sometimes try to strip you of these two very crucial traits.
As a mother, I try to ensure that they have the tools to form their own opinions about a topic rather than just regurgitate what the group thinks. Intentionality - a foundational tool of parenting that I picked up from my own mother.
Eight years ago, I became a mother to a beautiful little girl and four years later was blessed with another child. Thus, my journey began. During our weekly conversations, the topics discussed ranged from healthy eating and growing our own food, to the importance of living sustainably and issues of social and environmental justice. I try to engage in conversation that allows them a place at the table, along with a voice and space for an opinion that holds weight equal to mine - within reason of course!
As a family that lives in a rural community in the heart of North Central Washington, we spend a lot of our time outdoors. You can find my kids and I on the mountain learning to snowboard in the winter, mountain biking in the summer, hiking on our trails, in the forests around us camping and swimming in the rivers.
In my work, I advocate for diversity in the outdoors and create content around being a representation in the outdoor industry. My love for the outdoors has naturally led me to wanting to live a more sustainable life, by implementing low waste products around our home and the ways we recreate in nature. Environmentally forward-thinking actions can turn us all into everyday change makers.
I believe that the best way to create a sustainable habit is to first decide in your heart, by defining your personal WHY and how those sustainable habits are meaningful to you and your family. Creating a family mission statement in a way.
How would changing your family’s consumption of plastics affect the environment? Who and what would be impacted by implementing these small changes? I suggest writing these points down and referencing them during times when you feel like your small changes as a family are not large enough to affect your community. Trust me, they are.
Like my parents before me, we took to shopping second hand, reusing single use plastics and saving them in place of Tupperware containers, which we often could not afford.
I have passed down a great deal of what my parents taught me to my children. The little healthy habits passed down from generations, nuggets of knowledge that are truly priceless. Almost everyone across the nation remembers the gentle call to reduce, reuse, and recycle and that is relevant now more than ever!
As a child, I was plagued with eczema, and this was now beginning to show up on my daughter's beautiful brown skin. With my more herbal approach to medicine, I steered clear from the steroids my mother used on me and turned to a more natural approach. I used the remainder of our chemical-based products in plastic bottles and switched to mostly plant-based bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, detergent, stain remover and low waste cleaning products.
Just like that, her eczema was cleared, in addition to all the single use plastic bottles that once littered our house. In my case, our problem was rectified with small low waste solutions – beneficial to both our family and the planet.
As a family, we have found our love for hiking, camping and all other outdoor activities and have created a healthy habit of using reusable products when we go out. When we camp, we pack using bins, reusable bags, silicone products and water bottles like the Tritan Renew water bottle from CamelBak.
Last year, we went on our first backpacking trip as a family and made low waste meals with our Stasher bags and dehydrated foods which were a hit! When we hike, we always carry water bottles and hydration bladders with plenty of water - never relying on single use plastic water bottles. We reuse glass jars, sacks, and any other reusable packaging we find helpful.
In addition to utilizing our local recycling options, we have implemented chores around the house, teaching our kids what to recycle, compost or throw away. This family dynamic has made taking care of our planet not only engaging but fun!
At a young age, my kids and I started hosting trash clean ups around our community, a great way for moms and kids to meet and make a tangible impact. Now everywhere we go, my kids pick up trash, often without me even asking them to do so. We separate the trash from the recyclables and make sure the waste gets where it needs to go, rather than where it gets left, which sadly is often littered amongst our beautiful green spaces and riverside views.
Even the smallest change can have a significant impact on people's lives all around the world. When I began to understand the relationship between my daily choices and our historically underserved communities, the choice was easy.
Of all the things I teach my children, I always try to make caring for our people and the planet a top priority – to preserve and protect our planet’s beauty and natural resources for generations to come.
For more about Chelsea, follow her on Instagram @she_colorsnature