April 2008 - Green Parenting
More and more parents are thinking about ways they can be green (act in a way
that helps preserve the environment). Lots of people are buying organic, changing
to compact fluorescent bulbs, driving hybrids, and taking other steps to help
minimize negative effects on the earth. You might not think that the way you
parent after divorce could have an impact on the environment, but in fact there
are lots of things you can do to be a greener divorced parent.
Many divorced parents make arrangements with their child’s school for
each parent to receive individual copes of progress reports, conference notifications,
test results, event notices and so on. If you take a look at the amount of paper
you’re getting from your child’s school and then think about the
fact that it’s all being duplicated to the other parent, that’s
a lot of dead trees. If your school is not equipped to switch to email notifications,
you can still reduce your carbon footprint. Arrange to have these papers sent
to only one parent. Then, either send them along to the other parent, or scan
them and email them to him so he gets them too.
I would never suggest that you reduce visitation in order to reduce miles driven
– your child’s relationship with the other parent is too important.
However, there are things you can do to make the transportation smarter. First,
take a look at the schedule. Is your child being picked up or returned home
at rush hour? If so, the parent driving is using additional gas sitting in traffic.
Adjusting times to avoid rush hour can make a big difference.
Also, consider what the schedule looks like. Is your ex taking your child on
Thursday evening, returning her that night and then coming and getting her again
on Friday for a weekend? Why not increase the visitation to last from Thursday
through Sunday (and then make a decrease somewhere else to even things out)?
You and your ex can also try to make visitation transportation multi-purpose.
If you need to go to the grocery store, stop there on your way back from dropping
your child off instead of making a separate trip. If your child goes to ballet
half an hour after returning home from visitation, why not extend visitation
and have your ex drop her off there instead?
Think about Secondhand
The non-custodial parent likely has a bedroom for your child. Consider furnishing
this room with secondhand items. If your child visits only every other weekend,
it’s not a very good investment to buy a brand new bedroom set. Likewise,
a non-custodial parent could comfortably use a secondhand stroller, high chair,
bicycle and other child and baby items since they will get infrequent use.
If your child has a tv or computer in his room, unplug it when he is with the
other parent. Do the same thing for video game machines like Playstation or
Wii. Don’t leave his iPod plugged in to charge the entire time he’s
away either. Make sure lights and fans are off in your child’s room while
he is gone.
One of the biggest ways to preserve resources is to work with your ex to solve
any problems that come up with parenting on your own. If you go to court, you
generate a tremendous amount of paperwork and use a lot of resources for something
you may have been able to compromise on by yourselves.
Educate Your Co-Parent
If you’re dedicated to being green, talk with your co-parent. Not only
can you find ways together to reduce the amount of resources you’re using,
but you can also offer him some information about the benefits of organic foods
for your child.