While it may seem too hectic to run a household and help the environment at the same time, there are simple, easy alternatives to incorporate environmentally friendly habits into your everyday routine. Here are some ways you and your family can help protect the earth together:
Dust off that bicycle
Get the whole family outdoors by biking to places instead of using the car. You’ll not only save on gas and get exercise, but you’ll help decrease fossil fuel emissions. Or, try walking to do your local errands, and only use your car when you absolutely must.
Create a compost pile
Don’t let kitchen scraps go to waste – instead start a compost pile. You can use this opportunity to teach kids about where garbage goes when not dealt with properly, and how landfills are increasingly harmful to our earth. Gardening Know How recommends that kids reuse soda liter bottles for composting, allowing the end result to be used for growing plants. Another fun activity could be making a worm farm out of a plastic bin. The ways to get creative with composting are endless!
Reuse shopping bags
Next time you hit the store, save your paper bags to be reused as textbook covers for the kids. Not only are they an affordable option to keep the books safe, your kids can draw on and decorate them to their liking. Also, try using the paper bags as trash bags when you run out, or as giftwrap if you’re feeling particularly environmentally friendly.
Try creating a carpool with other parents on some school mornings. It will cut back on the amount of cars on the road, and you’ll gain a little extra time to enjoy your morning coffee as well.
Switch to a dry erase board
Instead of making your grocery or to-do lists on notepads, conserve paper by switching to a whiteboard. Hang it in your kitchen or keep it on your desk as a daily reminder. When you’re done, all you have to do is erase your writing, so you will reduce the amount of paper goods you purchase and use.
Preserve paper towels
Micro Hydro suggests a fun game your family can try in order to cut back on using paper towels – give a roll to each family member and see whose roll can last the longest. Since kids have a tendency to go overboard on using paper towels without realizing the damage it can have, creating a contest might teach them how to manage their use better. If you want to make it even more exciting, let there be a reward for the winner!
Find a local nature cleanup
Search for local events and bring the family to help the community. There are many groups across the globe that seek to reduce human impact on our beautiful rivers and lakes. Cleaning up trash that has made its way into the water or on shore can be a great way to show the whole family the importance of properly disposing trash, and how we can have negative effects on our immediate environment if we are not careful.
Attempt to only eat foods that were grown near your home – this reduces demand for imported items, which require more energy to transport. Greatest also recommends this tact because food that comes from farmers markets tend to have less packaging on their products. Further, it’s never a bad idea to support local farmers and businesses. This is often a simple choice at the grocery store – you can get fresher food, in addition to helping the environment.
Check your labels
Avoid products with harmful ingredients – nonylphenol ethoxylates and octylphenol ethoxylates (commonly found in laundry detergents, citrus stain removers or cleaners, and disinfectants) and Triclosan (contained in many liquid dishwashing detergents or hand soaps) are harmful to rivers and streams. It’s important to support companies that make effective, eco-friendly products. Further, these chemicals can be harmful to humans as well, so begin to be wary of what you bring home.
Choose reusable water bottles
Constantly drinking from plastic water bottles can have a damaging effect on our earth, as plastic is made from petroleum. Think of how many plastic bottles you’ve used and thrown away almost immediately in your lifetime…it’s a staggering amount worldwide, and especially dangerous when the bottles accidentally end up in our waterways. Switch your entire family to reusable water bottles – have each person choose a different color so everyone has their own personal bottle!
Have you tried increasing your environmental awareness as a family? Let us know which activities your kids enjoyed most in the comments below!