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Exctinction is a pretty heavy subject. We are talking about animals dying. We are even talking about humans killing animals. But I recently broached the subject with Oliver who is just about to turn 4 years old. I’m not going to lie, I’m secretly raising an eco warrior. We’ve talked about a few things, but in the end it all comes back to extinction, so why avoid it?
The effect of palm oil
We recently started cutting out palm oil from our diets and the cosmetic products we buy. I don’t wear a great deal of make up but sometimes used to buy it mindlessly. I will now only buy something I know I really need. I also only buy palm oil free soap and recently tried to go shampoo free, but was scuppered by hard water residue. When I’m looking for palm oil free products it can be really difficult as it’s often hidden. It’s pretty much in everything. It’s in a lot of bread products too, so we bought a bread machine* and now effortlessly make bread with 6 ingredients.
Where meat comes from
Because of all of these changes Oliver has asked a lot of questions. We’ve always tried to be as honest as we can with Oliver when he asks questions. He knows where meat comes from and we even show him on his body where each cut of meat is from. He’s still not really sure about whether it’s good or bad. I have joked about raising a vegan. Although we are meat eaters, we are honest about the effects on the environment and how animals are farmed. If not vegan I fully expect him to be passionate about higher welfare farming. And real higher welfare, not the kind where they’re stuffed in a barn with no space to move.
We have an annual pass for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and recently visited Paradise Wildlife Park. I know a lot of people disagree with zoos, but we use it as a great opportunity to talk about conservation and why such amazing creatures are kept in cages thousands of miles from their natural habitats.
To add to this, we recently watched the Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall program about the ivory trade. In the program he discovers that illegal ‘new’ ivory is still being bought and sold all over the world. We talked about what ivory is and why it’s bad. Since this TV show he noticed on the Lion Guard that there was an elephant with only half a tusk. He’d seen the episode several times before (the one where Simba has to talk in Elephantise and accidentally says the wrong word) and never mentioned it. He clearly took in the fact that people take elephant’s tusks. He doesn’t quite realise the extent to which they are taken, but he does know that ivory means elephants will die.
I’m sure a lot of people will argue that I’m taking away his innocence. That childhood is for blind enjoyment without the realities of the world. But I honestly think I would be doing him an injustice for not telling him. Not answering his questions with truth. I do tailor my responses to his age, as I said above, he doesn’t know the full extent of how elephants are maimed for their ivory.
I think that raising an eco warrior is possible without ruining a child’s innocence. Oliver doesn’t worry about these things outside of our conversations. It doesn’t effect his day-to-day life. He still sits and plays lego, cuddles teddies, pretends to be a dinosaur and is generally a bit of a crazy.
Are you raising an eco warrior? Am I ruining Oliver’s innocence?