Becoming a parent can be a bit of a shock for those living a green lifestyle. Worthy attempts to walk or cycle go out the window. Ambitions to eat seasonally and cook fresh wilt in the battle to get kids to eat at all. So many green alternatives just require that little bit of extra time and energy, and those things are not in great supply any more.
Kate Blincoe has taken that reality as a starting point for The no-nonsense guide to green parenting: how to raise your child, help save the planet and not go mad. It makes for a book that is wise, sympathetic, and non-judgmental, “a book for the rest of us.” It’s written in a light and friendly style, with a diversity of content that invites you in – there are ideas, challenges, and the occasional recipe in there, all nicely illustrated with photos of Kate’s own family.
Importantly in our nature-deficient culture, the book puts a strong emphasis on appreciating nature as well as reducing our ecological impact. “Unless the next generation can understand and feel part of the natural world, they will not know how to truly care for it or be equipped to make sound environmental choices”. Green parenting can’t just be about giving our children organic vegetables and wooden toys. It’s got to be about nurturing a love for nature, and the book has activities for different seasons, foraging notes, key species to go looking for, and lots of encouragement to go out and get dirty. It doesn’t presume that everyone lives in the leafy suburbs either, and has extra advice for those in the city.
Generally speaking, kids today can identify more superheroes than trees, more brand names than birds. But that’s true of me too, so that’s hardly a surprise. As I’ve tried to teach my kids more about the world I’ve become very aware of the big gaps in my own knowledge. We’ve done a lot of learning together, and that’s been really rewarding. It’s nice to see that reflected here too. “You don’t have to be a naturalist” says Blincoe. “Simply get outside and ask questions together.” And tool up with nature identification apps and nature spotter’s cards, I might add.
As with any book like this, you’ll know some of it already. There are ideas you’ll have thought of and some that are new, some you’ll want to try and some you’ll know are not for you. I’m going to have a go at making a terrarium, and wild garlic bread. I’m not going to start making my own suncream. Great advice on ethical school uniforms – my wife spent hours looking into this over the summer. Soap-nuts? Not with Luton’s hard water you don’t.
You’ll find your own inspirations, and this is a book to browse and dip into, see what takes your fancy. “For our children’s well-being, and for nature’s sake, it’s time to re-wild the kids.”