What's a simple eco-friendly habit all families can start?
There are so many simple eco-friendly habits that any family could easily do. Since we are active in helping clean up our community, my personal favorite (and simple) thing that we do is strive to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we use.
3 easy changes are: Reusable bags, reusable water bottles, and saying "no thank you" to plastic straws. Once I get comfortable refusing something, I like to pick a "new" single-use plastic product to refuse and come up with a plastic-free alternative!
There are so many simple eco-friendly habits for families. I think it depends on your family. Always taking your shoes off at the door will reduce toxins from entering your home, opening the windows on occasion will improve your indoor air quality, bringing reusable grocery bags reduces your plastics use. When my family and I started going green, I began with the simple things – reducing junk mail (which made my life easier!), learning the recycling rules for our town and recycling all we could, and being more efficient with our energy usage.
Going meat-free one day a week is a simple yet impactful way for families to save money, their health and the planet. According to a recent World Watch report published by environmental experts, more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the factory farmed meat industry. One of the most highly effective environmental changes you can personally make is eating less meat. The Meatless Monday website is a great source of information and has lots of recipes to start each week with healthy and flavorful, eco-friendly meat-free alternatives.
Reducing waste is probably easiest (and extremely broad). It can mean buying less in the first place, but it can also encompass things like composting and repurposing products.
Change the thermostat by one degree. You will use less energy, thus lowering your carbon footprint and the power plant's carbon footprint, not to mention saving some money on your power bill! Just commit to that one degree and don't change it back! For more tips, read this post on 10 easy ways to go green now. http://www.mamamakingchanges.com/2012/03/10-easy-ways-to-get-greener-now.html
Use cloth napkins, washcloths, etc. Break the paper habit. It is no more difficult to grab a washcloth to clean up a mess than a paper towel. You just throw the washcloth in the laundry, not the trash. Same thing with cloth napkins. That's why you have a washing machine. Reuse, reuse, reuse.
Start a recycling bin! It is such a basic step to starting further eco friendly habits.
My focus is on the symbiotic relationship between healthy children and healthy environment. So, start with eliminating toxins in your home. Replace chemical sprays with natural products or homeade mixes that are inexpensive and easy to make.
Recycling & use reusable bags while grocery shopping.
One of the simplest eco-freindly habits is switching to baking soda and vinegar for cleaning products. They are ridiculously easy to use, cheap, and odds are you already have them!
I think one of the easiest ways to start that requires little to no effort and money is starting to use reusable items; shopping bags, water bottles, containers, cloth baggies and cloth napkins. It is just simply adjusting your routine and once you have it down it becomes second nature!
Reusable cloths for cleaning up spills and faces. I keep a stack of washcloths and cloth napkins in a drawer in my kitchen, and we use them to clean faces and hands, kitchen counters, toilets, tabletops and more. I use a fresh cloth for just about every job so they don't get germy and then toss them in the washer with my towels. We haven't bought a roll of paper towels in almost a year!
Cook/eat at home - you can save a ton of money, generate less waste, use your own garden produce or other local produce and provide your family better quality meals.
This one is easy! Start using recycled bags for all of your shopping. They are only $1.00 per bag and 5-6 goes a long way. They only need to be replaced once a year (if that). Keep them in your car at all times. I use them for ALL my shopping needs and I even have small ones for my daughter to carry and use. I haven't gotten a plastic bag from a store in almost two years!
One of the simplest things you can do is switch the cleansers you use. This makes a HUGE impact on both the planet and on your family's health! You only need four simple ingredients for most cleansers you use on a regular basis: vinegar, baking soda, borax and lemon juice. Mix and match those four depending on what you're cleaning. From cleaning counters to doing the laundry, those four can do so many things around your home! It's eco-friendly, it is simple and you'll have a home that is germ-free, chemical-free and sparkling clean as well!
If you all take your shoes off each time you enter the house, you can reduce toxins in your home by around 60%!
A simple, eco-friendly habit all families can start is to take birthday parties down a notch or two. Not only does a conventional birthday party create a lot of waste, it teaches our kids that sugar and "stuff" are the best ways to celebrate special occasions.
Consider the long term impact of batteries and all the plastic toys that came all the way from China or are loaded with toxins. Add in how we're teaching our children to consume at a rate beyond that of any generation in history, and the environmental impact of one person turning a year older is astounding.
How do you tone down the birthday bash?
- Limit the guest list to family and close friends.
- Send e-vites or make invitations from papers and craft items you already have on hand.
- Host the party at a local park or your own backyard instead of the big, loud pizza / video game place.
- Nature makes a much more beautiful backdrop for a party than disposable, discount store decorations.
- Choose simple games and activities that require the children to work together... scavenger hunt, trivia questions,
- Serve seasonal, local food if possible.
- Use real plates or compostable tableware (and really compost it when you're finished).
- Ditch the goody bag filled with junk. If you really want to give out a favor, have an activity like tie-dyeing t-shirts the kids can take home with them.
go paper towel less! Use microfiber sponges and cloths and have a basket of cloth napkins handy for any occasion or mess.
WASH YOUR LAUNDRY IN COLD WATER-80-90 percent of the washing machines energy is used to heat the water. Your clothes will be just as clean-honest!
Eat your leftovers, don't throw away any food. Label and date your food. Freeze your food. Give it away. Just don't throw it away!
Choosing to eliminate as many toxins is a great first start and can be done easily by reading blogs like the ones found on the Circle of Moms Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms and by using handy guides from organizations like the Environmental Working Group.
This step will have positive impact on both the environment and families health & quality of living. Start simple by choosing to purchase organic or local produce when possible, reduce processed foods, artificial & excess sweeteners, and by choosing natural cleansing agents for the home and body (many of which are even easy, fun and affordable to DIY!).
There are so many simple ways to be eco-friendly today that it is difficult to mention just one. However, you also do not want to overwhelm yourself. I think the first and most important habit a family can adopt is to recycle. By teaching your family, not just to separate the recycling, but why it is beneficial and how they are helping the Earth and themselves, it will translate into being "green" in other ways.
When my kids were young, we regularly had "family meetings." We kept minutes, took attendance, and everyone got a chance to talk about "what was important to them." Now that my kids are teens, instead of every week, our crazy schedules have reduced our family meetings to only about "once a quarter." Regardless of how often we hold our "meetings" we still make sure to include, in addition to our own individual items, one eco-friendly family habit (ie home composting, tree planting, recycling, family environment rally attending, "home energy police" enforcer etc).
Over the years we have found that these family commitments we make together keep us grounded and focused as a family on making small changes that we feel make us better global citizens as well. These "habits" also make us more likely to suggest similar ideas to friends and family and to remind others about why these actions are important - not only for our family, but for our community and the bigger world that we live in too. We also make a point of adding "one new habit" to every family meeting agenda, and then we work towards making that habit a priority over the next quarter!
So, if you don't currently have a "family meeting" schedule, set one up - on many levels it's a wonderful way to keep connected and find out what is important for you and your kids. And even if a family meeting is a regular part of your routine, do make sure to add "eco-friendly habit" to the meeting agenda! It's fun, rewarding and a really positive thing for the whole family to come together on!
A very simple eco-friendly habit all families can start is to turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use. Save energy (and money) by unplugging your microwave and coffee maker when you’re not using them. Turn off lights when you leave the room. And unplug your computer and cell phone charger when you’re finished using them for the day.
Super easy stuff: turning off lights and appliances, turning off water when brushing teeth, buying more organic produce (especially the dirty dozen), using less of everything, buying used, and supporting a sustainable economy by buying what you DO need from brands working for a safer, healthier world! :)
and if you want to narrow it down - recycling PAPER !
There are really, plenty of simple eco-friendly habits to start with, but I find that recycling is something the whole family can participate in and paper recycling must be the easiest.
Look into your trash can for a week and see what types of items you are throwing away. Many of the one-time-use items have reusable options; like paper towels. Every families waste is different but some common items that have reusable options include paper towels, napkins, plastic baggies, paper plates, and even disposable diapers. It may take a few more minutes to wash and clean the reusable variety but you'll end up saving money and your trash consumption will decrease!
Get rid of all your chemical cleaning products. Use vinegar instead. Vinegar cleans everything. If vinegar doesn't work, add baking soda. And when all else fails, use Bac-out.
If none of that works, try tea tree oil, fresh lemons, hydrogen peroxide, borax, club soda, or hot water.
If none of that works, enjoy the mess.
Taking off your shoes at the door! Shoes track in pesticides, lead, mutagens, allergens, dirt, feces (ew!), and other bacteria. Your key to a cleaner, safer home is to leave the shoes at the door. My trick to get everyone on board at home is to place large decorative "shoe buckets" near each entrance. My kids put their shoes in the shoe bucket when the get home without even thinking about it. Plus, you never hear the question "Mom, where are my sneakers?" ever again.
A great place to start would be ditching disposables and, if possible, plastics. Trading paper towels and napkins for reusable, washable cloth, for example, saves waste, water, and [if you repurpose old t-shirts] recycles! Give up paper plates and plastic silverware for the glass variety, which are not only better for the environment but generally have less chemicals. Instead of plastic water bottles, invest in a good (preferably metal) insulated water bottle and just fill it up as you go! My University has water fountains which keep a running count of how many water bottles each fountain has saved, and it's very encouraging.
This is how I started on my trip to eco-friendly land, and it was both very simple, cheap, and satisfying!