Photo: Queen of Green coaches help families go green

Lauren Smith plants trees with her mom, coach Melanie Smith.

Ideally, I'd go house-to-house greening families every day. But I can't. That's why this spring I recruited four volunteer coaches to help families across Canada reduce their environmental footprints. The result: a host of Canadians who now make everything from litterless lunches and bee gardens to community supported agriculture part of their everyday lives.

It's all part of an effort to pass on green-living knowledge, so that each person who acquires it can in turn inspire someone else. So far, it's been a great success!

With my support, each coach led five families (in B.C., Ontario, and Alberta) through four learning modules centred on waste, toxics, food, and community action. Within weeks, the families were practising Meatless Mondays, giving green cleaning workshops, and installing rain barrels for the first time. They also joined organic food co-ops, organized weekly play dates in nature, planned a community block party and garage sale, and farmed small urban green spaces for food.

Personal green coaching helps families go beyond the endless lists of tips and admonishments to address the true barriers to positive environmental action: too much information, feeling alone and uncared-for, and doubting whether personal choices make a difference.

Watching these families alter their lifestyles left no doubt in my mind: personal choices do make a difference! We're now studying how we can further develop this program to reach even more Canadians.

Encouraging, answering questions, and offering advice and gold stars were:
  • Melanie Smith (St. Albert, Alta.), the fearless captain of four busy kids who hasn't looked back since winning a visit from me in a Canadian Living contest.
  • Jennifer Freitas (Waterloo, Ont.), mother, owner of Olivier Soaps, and co-founder of the Local Wellness Lifestyle Movement. Tovah Paglaro (North Vancouver, B.C.), family editor for Thrifty & Green Magazine and host of Growing Up Green, a blog about raising a sustainable family with three young kids.
  • Norma Romann (Vancouver, B.C.), an international relations student and Foundation volunteer who runs A Little More Good, an organization that helps people to create positive social change.
Go team!

Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki's Queen of Green

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