Healthy kids, healthy planet

Leslie Carlson

One of the strongest resources of support for environmental policies, products and services are new parents. Parenthood has a way of making one more vigilant about one’s lifestyle. One of humankind’s strongest, most primary instincts is to preserve and protect our progeny, and in the 21st century, that means trying to reduce our kids’ exposure to an increasingly toxic environment.

I’ve seen many friends who, upon becoming parents, became much more concerned about the levels of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in food. Parenthood also has a tendency to make people take a longer view of the future: instead of thinking about what might happen in one’s own lifetime, you start to think about the state of the world that will be left to your children and your grandchildren. Because of this, I believe parents are a good—if largely untapped—audience for those promoting a more eco-friendly world.

That’s why I was glad to see the launch of the “Tiny Footprints” website, a project sponsored by the Oregon Environmental Council and a number of private, non-profit and foundation sponsors. The website’s mission is to provide “resources for parents and their communities who want to raise their children in a way that is good for their children's health and the environment.”

Tiny Footprints doesn’t answer some of the most daunting “eco” questions facing parents (Cloth or disposables?). It does, however, compile information and resources on organic, healthy food, how to clean your house without hazardous chemicals, which local parks don’t use pesticides and even tips on throwing a “healthy baby shower.” Discussion areas provide a place for parents to network and share information.

What the website doesn’t have is links and background information for those who might not know why plastics are bad for babies or the documented effects of hormones and pesticides on children’s health. But it’s a great place to start if you want to avoid having to do what I did—spending many days or weeks doing research about how to protect my kids and create a healthier home.

  • Karen (unverified)

    Northwest Earth Institute developed a discussion course entitled Healthy Children-Healthy Planet that helps interested parties to create a healthy home environment, to help open a child's connection to the natural world and to understand the influence of advertising on a child's view of the world. It's a great avenue for new parents who meet through daycare and birth-preparation classes as well as 'older' parents and grandparents who see the negative impact our culture has on their most precious children.

  • Sarah (unverified)

    Leslie, Thanks for your comments on the new site and baby shower kit. We are very excited about the project and the response from the community has been wonderful.

    The site does have information and resources on "why" certain things should be avoided in baby products and around the home but clearly that information was not easily accessible. As a result of your feedback, I've changed the site to make the information about the 'why's' more readily identifiable.

    Thanks again for the feedback. Best - Sarah

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