We cannot emphasize enough how Mother Earth needs more TLC. After all, our children will inherit this world. We need to care for it so that our kids and their kids have a livable planet in their future.
SmartParenting.com.ph reached out to three families to share how they make their family's lifestyle sustainable and how the parents teach the kids to become earth warriors.
From urban dwellers to a family of farmers
In 2009, the Tolentinos were living in Cainta, Rizal when Typhoon Ondoy struck and submerged their home in three meters of flood water. As they helplessly watched floating mounds of garbage in the murky floodwaters, Daddy Turo and Mommy Kar agreed it was time for a drastic change.
The couple packed up the kids, left their jobs in the city, moved to Los Baños, Laguna, and started what they have always dreamt about: farming. They also switched to a less wasteful lifestyle, one that is healthier for both for the body and the environment.
“Our vision is to become fully self-sufficient, grow our own food, educate our own kids, produce our own energy, and create everything that we need. We are not there yet, but we are hoping our kids will share our vision,” Kar shares.
The constant interaction with nature enables Turo and Kar to make the kids aware of how everything they do in their daily lives affects the environment. Kar says, “Raising kids who are environmentally aware comes with the territory…the environment exists and what is happening to it should be understood because it affects us.”
Kar emphasizes to the kids the relationship by pointing out simple things. If a child feels hot, it is because of the sun. If it is warm and sunny, clothes will dry faster. If it rains, this is good for the plants and would save them from the task of watering them. A windy day is good for flying a kite.
The Tolentino kids have household and farm chores that also help them understand environment-friendly actions. The kuyas are in charge of taking out the garbage every Wednesdays and they know how generating less trash will mean fewer chores (“Madami pang space sa trash bin! Hindi pa puno, good job!”).
The boys also help their dad collect grass in sacks to shred at home and make grass compost. Whenever they eat out (ramen is a favorite dish), the kids bring a container to ask for eggshells from the restaurant. These eggshells are brought home, processed to become calcium fertilizer, and fed to their pets: worms in the vermicompost bin!
This exposure to farming and resource cycling has prompted Ari, their eldest child, to start a seed paper business. The whole family gets involved in gathering paper waste, which they shred and process to become plantable seed paper.
“When Ari started his business, a lot of people congratulated him and us, which was really nice,” Kar shares proudly. “Then we had people telling us na ipapakita din nila sa anak nila, or ‘Nakita ko yung post mo sa Facebook, try din namin yung ginagawa ninyo.’ That’s really when we feel that somehow we’re making a difference.”
Do you need to own a farm to start teaching your kids to care for the environment? Not at all. Kar encourages families to try to grow something to rekindle that connection to nature. “Grow something, start with a small plant in a pot. Knowing that you played a part in nurturing and caring for something that started with a seed can be a good start.”
A family who is making peace with the environment
Daddy Mik is an artist and an advocate for the conservation of sea turtles, which are prominently featured in some of his artwork. Mom Sarah works in the multimedia industry and even had the privilege of working with environmentalist and Al Gore, a former U.S. vice president.
Sarah recalled her experience during Gore's first run of the An Inconvenient Truth in Manila. “I remembered getting goosebumps as I was watching his presentation from backstage. I vowed to myself then that I will do whatever is necessary to make this world livable for the generations to come.”
It's a passion that has trickled down to the family. Mik, Sarah and their three kids are members of the non-government organization Teach Peace Build Peace Movement. “To be true peace heroes, all must be conscious about the impact they make in the environment and to strive to keep a space where everyone can have peace,” Sarah says about the group's advocacy. (Learn more about it at tpbpm.org.)
Mik and Sarah impart eco-consciousness to their kids through actual practice. At home, the family segregates waste and practice eco-bricking. They have stopped using disposable straws and utensils with the couple's daughters using reusable baunan, utensils and water bottles in school.
When baby Dakila arrived, the family redefined the term “responsible parenthood” by choosing to get pre-loved baby items. “Not only were we saving on our budget, but we were also prolonging the life of these items, which otherwise could have just ended up in the landfills,” Sarah explains. They bought Dakila’s playpen, highchair, car seat, and stroller from other families on Facebook Marketplace.
The family also committed not to use disposable diapers. Mik shared with the family that it takes 500 years to decompose one diaper! Cloth diapering was a challenge to this family who loved to travel, which meant they brought a “sampayan” wherever they went!
Cutting plastic use, segregating trash, cloth diapering, and staying dedicated to their peace advocacy all require each family member to contribute and share responsibilities. It requires a massive amount of commitment, but it is all worth it if it means preventing tons of non-biodegradable waste from the world.
A family of mindful travelers
The Cipullo family is constantly on the move. Daddy Tim’s job has brought them the opportunity to live in different places, such as Canada, Madagascar, U.S., the Philippines, and their current residence, Japan. In every country they get to call home, Tim and his wife Candice strive to get involve in environmental organizations and educate themselves by taking trips to nature reserves. They try to walk, bike, or take public transportation, rather than drive all the time.
Tim and Candice agree that raising earth-loving kids is a great way parents can consciously and continuously contribute to create a better future. “We want our kids to be productive members of society, and with the beautiful gifts that nature has given to us, we choose to give back to it by taking care of it in the way we live our lives,” Candice explains. (Read more about their family's adventures on Candice’s blog, www.travelingmaybahay.com.)
The Cipullos teach their kids by example, which comes naturally to them since both Tim and Candice are nature lovers and enjoys hiking, camping, and going to the beach. Cultivating a love for the outdoors makes it much easier to explain the need to take care of nature so that future generations could still enjoy it.
There are opportunities to raise eco-conscious kids without having to leave home, too! By making healthy food choices — eating more vegetables and less meat and processed foods — they can teach the kids to support organic and local farming. By reducing their usage of single-use plastics, they can teach their kids alternative ways to reduce trash. By recycling, segregating waste, and growing their own garden, the kids are taught the importance of helping out in their own little ways.
“In one of our trips to a beach in Batangas, Kevin was snorkeling and was shocked to see so much trash in the ocean. He got out of the water and asked for a bag and spent two hours just collecting random trash he found. Nina did the same thing when we went to Cebu,” Candice narrates.
During that half an hour walk down the beach, they filled four big bags of beach trash. “People were staring at them while doing this, but they didn’t care. In their minds, they did the little that the good to make a difference that day,” she shared.
Kevin and Nina went back to school to share this experience with the class. Candice took pride in the fact the kids didn’t do it for rewards or recognition. They were just doing what their parents did: leading and teaching by example.
As always, it's the little acts that can spark that compassion for the earth we live in and instilling in kids the need to protect and preserve our planet for future generations. These may not be grand gestures, but remember, millions of little actions brought us to the state of our planet today, it will also take millions of little actions to reverse it. So why not start at home?