You don’t have to donate large sums of money, create a foundation, or cause a scene to chip away at little (or big) issues in the world, starting with your community. I’ve found that simply using my voice to stand up for small changes that add up to big impacts is so effective at not only creating change, but setting an example for my children.
I may not be the loudest or the most aggressive, but I’ve never been one to stand by and watch something I disagree with unfold. For example, it’s common knowledge these days that food is fuel. When it comes to my kids’ schools, seeing what kind of meals and snacks are provided can be unsettling … processed foods, less than fresh, inorganic produce, etc. But as moms, it’s in our power to raise some awareness and rally for healthier options.
I wasn’t satisfied with the food being served at my kids’ school, so I made sure that the principal knew my concerns. And I’ve continued to offer my two cents on everything from the type of milk they serve to their use of single-use plastic. It may seem annoying, but in the long run, I’m doing it for my children and their futures. Another idea is to suggest a pledge that the kids take (and teachers, too) to create less waste every year, or starting a petition that gets passed around the parents via email. Dialogue picks up momentum, and momentum stirs change.
I’m constantly sharing with my kids the importance of sustainability. While sometimes it feels like it’s “too late” for my own generation to get on the same page, we can form a new generation that is raised in awareness about the state of the world—a generation with fundamental values that promote sustainability. The other day, Penelope asked me why lotion comes in plastic bottles and, honestly, I didn’t have an answer for her. But I’m happy that she’s hearing my constant concerns for the amount of plastic we use on a daily basis, and she’s already asking the big questions.
While making sure my kids minimize their own footprint, I also like to let them hear me speak to restaurants that we go to about changing some of their wasteful practices. Encourage your local smoothie shop to do away with plastic straws, or your favorite dinner spot to opt for to-go packaging made from corn and other biodegradable materials. If you get pushback, try again, or try somewhere new with an open heart and mind. These small changes can snowball when your community takes the cue and does the same.
When on the move, get things “for here,” and bring reusable containers to take it to go. Some of my favorite reusable snack baggies for the kids and myself for travel are Stashers. They come in a ton of different sizes and colors, and the sturdy silicon material holds its shape better than plastic baggies so your snacks don’t get smooshed.
These beeswax food wraps are super cute and useful for leftovers and wrapping up cut fruit. My fridge can be a whirlwind of half-eaten yogurts and fruits that were begged for and then abandoned. Instead of tossing it, I like to minimize waste and hang on to it for later, wrapping it in something reusable.
It may seem like change is out of your reach, but truly it’s within all of our grasp. I practice using my voice in my community in an effort to make improvements in our environment and health, and I truly feel like bringing my kids into the mission is the legacy I can leave behind. So if you feel small, speak up. Our voices are big.