Small Steps to a Greener Life

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Small Steps to a Greener Life

By Cris Pearlstein

We caught up with mom of 3, Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya, to get her take on living a greener life and how to impart those lessons to our kids. Louise is the founder of Mon Coeur, a line of sustainable, eco-friendly, and ethically-made kids clothes. When her son was born in 2018 she found herself wondering why the fabric for kids clothes couldn’t be reclaimed from the factory floor of grown-up clothes? And what if the buttons and zippers could help keep plastic out of the ocean? Louise set out to close the loop on kids’ clothing.

Growing up in France, Louise describes living a “greener life” as really just living the European mindset. Forgoing air conditioning, growing your own fruits and vegetables, and drying laundry on a clothesline were all a part of normal, everyday life—not a trend or marketing ploy. She believes that by incorporating more of this way of thinking into the small things we do daily, we would all be better off.  Keep reading to hear her tips on getting your kids involved at a young age, and the one swap everyone should make in their kitchen.

c/o Mon Coeur

What advice do you have for a parent who is trying to foster a sense of environmental responsibility in their child(ren)? 

I think it has to be explained in the most simple way possible so that it’s easy for them to understand. A great way to explain is by “doing.” Show them what it means to compost, show them what it means to recycle, show them the importance of picking up litter. When kids are young they really rely on visuals to learn and understand.

Also, I love the books What a Waste by Jess French and Recycling is Fun by Charles Ghigna for the tiny ones. Thank you, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre is great for kids around five years old and up—it’s so beautiful, and thanks the earth in a very poetic way while illustrating the wonders of this world. 

Lastly, The Last Straw Kids vs Plastic by Susan Hood for older kids (around 8+ years old) explains more in a statistical informative way the facts about sustainability.

Pssst…check out 7 Swaps to a Cleaner, Greener Home

What kind of things did you do in your home growing up that was a part of the European mindset, but that in the U.S. would be considered living a “greener life”? 

Growing up in the south of France I was raised doing things that are considered ‘green’ as a normal way of living, mostly because we did not have any other choices. For instance, there is no air conditioning in 99% of the houses, so almost everyone just uses a manual fan. That’s just the way it is there, and as a result we are very conscious of our AC use in our home in Manhattan. Same for drying the clothes outside or by the window on a rack—it is what every family did without question when I was growing up, and it’s something I still do in 2022. 

What tips do you have to get kids involved at a young age? Are there any special routines or activities you do that everyone in your family can participate in?

  • Grow your own fruits and vegetables and be in touch with nature. Digging for potatoes is our favorite thing to do. My son Miran says it feels like finding gold!
  • Make a little compost container (even feasible in an apartment!) and have the little ones drop in food scraps after meals.
  • Reuse items like cardboard boxes for playtime—make a house or a spaceship, and have your kids draw and decorate.
  • Walk with your kids instead of using a car all the time. Encouraging little ones to be active as early as possible fosters a love of walking, and nature in general.
  • Dry clothes on a rack or a clothesline—it’s an activity you can do with the kids to teach them responsibility, and they love it!
  • To save water, take a shower instead of a bath, and never let the faucet run while you brush your teeth. Explain to them why it’s better to save water and how doing these things can help.

What are some things parents can do in their day-to-day lives that will make a big impact in the long run?

Choose paperless options for invoices, bills, and paperwork. I am sure everyone receives piles of envelopes we never open, so going paperless would save a lot of trees! 

Try to get in the habit of limiting paper towel use in the kitchen. It’s so easy to use them up without thinking, but they really are single-use and end up being so wasteful. Instead use dish towels or reusable paper towels that are washable.

These little things from everyday life, if everyone does it, even a little bit, we will be in a much better place.  

Pssst…check out Teaching Our Kids About Charity, Empathy & Giving Back

c/o Mon Coeur

Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya is the founder and CEO of Mon Coeur, a children’s clothing revolution making truly earth-friendly clothes now, for a future with a healthier, happier planet. Founded after Louise gave birth to her first child, Mon Coeur is designed to care for the environment and respect the people making it. Louise is also founder and president of the Food Dreams Foundation, a non- profit dedicated to bridging the gap between underprivileged students and the working culinary community.

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