I have a son but it doesn’t change the fact that I think all kids should be raised with eco-friendly values and habits, not just boys. However, a massive amount of research shows that in the end, females are much more eco-friendly than males, which to me says that raising green boys presents some unique challenges for parents.
Don’t freak out
*Note before you blast me with comments or emails about how I’m sexist, note that the above statement is not based on personal research, but actual studies.
Still, if you want to get personal, most of the more eco-friendly folks I’ve met are women. Not across the board, but a majority. Mothers not dads I’ve met are almost always the parent discussing green issues with the kids. I see more women with reusable bags and water bottle as well.
On green forums, blogs and other media outlets, you’ll also usually see more women than men participating. This could be because women are more likely to be vocal about green issues though. Still, just to be clear, I don’t think men can’t be as eco-friendly as women, so there’s no reason to freak.
How males are more eco-friendly
In some ways males shine when it comes to green living. For example, many studies show that boys spend more time playing outside than girls and are given more independence by parents to do so than girls. This doesn’t change in the teen years or in adulthood either.
A report by The Outdoor Foundation (pdf) shows that males from birth to age 45+ spend more time engaging in active outdoor activities. In fact only research focused on elderly individuals shows that women are as active outside as men (come on ladies!). Because hanging out in nature is a major prerequisite for wanting to protect the environment, boys score a point here.
Research also shows that males take slightly shorter showers than females, but not by much.
How females are more eco-friendly
- Women are a bit more likely to buy eco-friendly clothing.
- Women are more likely to buy green products.
- Women are more likely to recycle. Even as they age, more older women than men say that the recycle bin is the most useful household item.
- Women are more likely to seek out green mates.
- Men are twice as likely as women to eat meat and women are far more likely to purchase organic food.
- It’s not just how the genders act either. When it comes to setting green goals, women have higher expectations for themselves. 52% of females want to recycle more, while just 33% of males do. 51% of women want to incorporate reusables into their world, like cloth grocery bags, but just 30% of men do. And, while just 32% of men want to reduce their home’s energy use, 48% of women have this goal. This boils down to the fact that women may carry more guilt about various issues, but that includes green issues.
Who is raising the kids?
Perhaps of most importance is that women still spend a significantly larger amount of time raising kids then men – even when both parents have full time jobs.
When men do parent, they tend to spend more time doing active stuff (which is good) or recreational stuff like movies, but they don’t bring up green or health issues with their kids as much as moms do. Visit any natural parenting forum and it’s clear that women are far more concerned with raising healthy, green kids than dads are.
This may go back to simple gender brain chemistry – according to a 2003 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “Women’s higher levels of empathy, altruism, and personal responsibility make them more interested in environmentalism as a way to protect not only themselves and their families, but also others.” If empathy is indeed the key to sustainable living, women come out ahead as most research shows that while both genders CAN express empathy, women are more likely to do so.
In your experience which is the more eco-friendly gender? Leave a comment below – and be honest.
Image by kikashi