With children splitting their time between mom's house and dad's house, green parenting not only makes sense for the environment, it also helps out with the pocketbook. And like most divorced parents, you could probably use a little help in that aspect. But how can you be more environmentally friendly as far as your co-parenting arrangements are concerned? The tips below will give you some practical ideas on how you can reduce waste, while at the same time still do what's best for your kids.
by Brette Sember
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. You can 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. (Learn more about Compromising in Divorce)
Educate Your Co-Parent
If you're dedicated to being a green parent, 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.
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These green parenting tips not only help save on resources, they also help pave the way to cooperative parenting after divorce. For more ideas on how to make it all work, check out the following articles: