Becoming a parent inevitably heightens anxiety about the state of the world our children will inherit. A 2021 survey found that 41% of UK parents’ purchasing choices are always or often driven by concern around climate change—a figure which is 17% higher than non-parents. But parenting alone is a tough gig, and trying to parent as sustainably as possible can feel like an impossible task.
But some places in the UK make it easier to be a ‘green parent’ than others. To help inspire parents to raise eco-conscious kids, we considered five factors: the number of local outdoor learning organisations, second-hand childrenswear listings online, the number of local allotments, farms and family-friendly days out in the great outdoors. So, where should you move to educate, clothe, and feed your own ‘mini eco-warrior’?
The top UK towns and cities
Considering all factors, the joint top destinations are St Austell, Cornwall and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Situated in the lush Cornish countryside, families in St Austell are spoilt for choice for family-friendly days out in the countryside; with over 52 listed local days out, there are plenty of places to inspire a love for nature. Kids in the town are also a stone’s-throw away from 28 local farms, perfect if you want to source local, fresh produce and teach kids to be more aware about where their food comes from.
Nuneaton in Warwickshire is an equally strong contender to raise a green family—especially if your goal is to clothe and feed your kids as sustainably as possible. Per child, the market town is home to the most allotments in the UK, with 16 options to dig into. Per child, the town also placed second for the volume of second-hand childrenswear listed online, only beaten by Worcester.
In third place, is Bath, with the 2nd most outdoor learning organisations per child, and in fourth place was Oxford, which had the 3rd most allotments. Per nation, Wrexham was the ‘green-parent’ capital of Wales, Lisburn the best in Northern Ireland, and Dundee stole the top spot in Scotland. At the other end of the index, Newtownabbey, London and Hull performed the most poorly when looking at the amenities per child.
Winners by category
The index can also reveal the category winners to suit each green-parenting priority. Incorporating ‘outdoor education’, whether it be a forest or beach school, into your child’s life not only promotes environmental awareness and stewardship, but according to research, can significantly reduce stress and boost self-esteem. The towns and cities with the most listed outdoor learning organisations in the UK per child were Woking, St Austell and Watford.
There are an estimated 183 million pieces of outgrown children’s wear in the UK alone, and considering that fashion and textiles contribute to 10% of global carbon emissions, this is a colossal waste of materials. Shopping for second-hand clothes is a great alternative to help the planet and save money, and parents in Wrexham, Nuneaton and Blyth have the most online options on offer, with the most childrenswear listings per child in the UK.
Eating fresh, local produce not only helps reduce carbon emissions, but reduces the chance of feeding nasty toxins to small tummies. Roll up your, and your little ones, sleeves and grow your own fruit and veg in a local allotment. For this factor, Nuneaton, Worcester and Oxford have the most allotments per child in the UK, respectively. Another consideration is the number of local farms—which includes both public farms and farm parks to explore with the kids, and also private farms as an indicator of the amount of local produce on offer. After St Austell in the top position, Wales scored highly for this metric with Wrexham and Newport, placing 2nd and 3rd.
Finally, to inspire an enduring love and connection with the great outdoors, the study assessed the number of family-friendly days out along the coast, countryside and in urban gardens and parks. As mentioned above, St Austell is the most environmentally ‘inspiring’ urban locality (with 119 destinations per 10,000 kids), far surpassing the next best options of Hereford (with 38 per 10,000 kids) and Woking (with 34).
According to a recent survey, over 80% of UK eight to fifteen-year-olds said that looking after the environment was important to them. At Bower our mission is to leave behind a better future for the next generation, and to inspire children to care for the planet, so we hope this study empowers parents to keep little green fingers busy and raise the next generation of ‘mini-eco warriors’.