Started on April 22nd, 1970 Earth Day was created to improve awareness about our effect on the plant. And while I appreciate all of the excitement that goes into that day, I believe that being eco-friendly is more about changing your lifestyle and educating those around you about good choices every day.
Before I had my kids it was much easier to live an eco-friendly life. I drove a tiny car, was a vegetarian and composted most of my waste.
Now, with 2 kids and a busy lifestyle, being nice to our planet is still very important, it is just harder to do. When my boys were little I was able to control the changes we made. Our challenge now is to educate them on the effects of their choices and to teach them alternate ways to do things.
Each year I try new things and add new practices to our household. So, instead of telling you what you can do, I have decided to list what we already do and maybe you will see something that may work for your house.
Last year we purchased a programmable thermostat that keeps the temperature in our house consistent during the day and lowers it at night. I unplug appliances when they aren’t being used and wash my laundry in cold water.
A couple years ago our city introduced green boxes for compost waste. I am a little obsessed with making sure that we use this service to the fullest. I have a bag on the counter and have been knowing to dig through the garbage to make sure my husband hasn’t thrown out something that could be used.
We talk a lot about water conservation in our family because my boys believe that it is an infinite resource. Veggie water is great for watering plants, as is the water that our de-humidifier collects in its reservoir. Our city has had a Summer water ban in place for about 10 years so we are only allowed to water our lawn once a week between designated hours.
As the kids are getting bigger we have been donating their toys and clothes to local charities and second-hand stores. I have also been researching other places we can bring our toys like local hospitals and doctor’s offices.
This year we have worked to teach our boys about recycling, composting and conservation. If they understand what effect their choices will have on the environment then maybe they will try harder to make better choices. We watch recycling and composting videos and talk a lot about taking care of our things so that they can be passed along to other kids as opposed to being thrown out.
I love everything Seventh Generation makes and have also created quite a few home made cleaners. Vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice are my new best friends! Last year I found soap nuts and I love them. They are good for the environment, compostable and clean my clothes better than commercial laundry detergents. One bag of 6-8 soap nuts can be used 4 or 5 washes and they are perfect for packing in your suitcase for travel. We also use a planet-friendly line of kid’s body products during bath time.
Dr. Laura Stachel, Obstetrics & Gynecology offers these ideas for families:
Don’t throw away paper that has only been used on one side. Reuse the back of these sheets for computer printing, note-taking, or art projects.
Turn trash into art
Many items initially destined to become trash–old magazines, fabric scraps, bottle tops, egg cartons, and plastic containers—are a gold mine for your budding artist. Countless art projects can be generated with a good box of trash and a healthy imagination. Keep a box in the house to collect items and use them to make collages, decorate picture frames or build a sculpture. Keep glue, string, and paint on hand to facilitate these projects.
Purchase fewer disposable products
Disposable diapers are one way our children contribute to the landfill. Consider using cloth diapers and save disposable diapers for specific outings rather than daily use. Another way to cut down on waste is to package your snacks in reusable containers rather than buying treats in single serving disposable packages.
We do a lot to help reduce our footprint, but there is still room for improvement. Every year I say that I want a rain barrel and never pick one up. I would also like to install solar panels on our roof.
Did you know?
- Each person throws away approximately four pounds of garbage every day.
- More than 1/3 of all energy is used by people at home
- The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a traditional light bulb for four hours
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees
- 84 percent of all household waste can be recycled.
- It takes 90% less energy to recycle aluminum cans than to make new ones
It is never too late to make changes to your lifestyle. Something is better than nothing so pick one of two changes that can work with you and add more when you see the opportunity.
“Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”