Teach you family good habits that will have a positive impact on their health, and the health of the planet.
Climate change has become a central topic at both UN and the dinner table. If your children are school age, they will likely be focusing on this important issue in class. While none of us can save the world on our own, there are many things we can be doing at home to help lessen our impact on Mother Earth.
As parents, we want to set our children up for a future that is brighter, healthier, and more peaceful than our own. Need some pointers? These are simple but effective changes that you can institute to save energy and money while reducing your personal footprint.
1. Bring your bags for shopping.
Many cities now have initiatives on the ballot to outlaw plastic bags altogether. Plastic bags require 12 million tons of oil to produce annually, only 1 in 200 is ever recycled, and biologists now estimate that every square mile of ocean has approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it1. Yuck! Consumers are getting wise to this and realizing the convenience of using reusable bags for transport as well as glass containers for food storage instead of sealable bags. Within a month, it will be habit to throw your shopping bags in the back of your car. Retailers really appreciate it too.
2. Shop at you local farmer’s market.
There are so many reasons to seek out your local producers and give them your money. 1) The food didn’t burn fuel flying from Argentina to get to you, 2) It’s often organic and less expensive than at your chain grocery store, 3) it’s a really fun family outing that can incorporate shared meal planning for your week, and 4) you get delicious, healthy, fresh food that helps support the people in your community.
3. Swap disposable bottled water for filtered tap and get a heavy-duty glass bottle.
Store bought water may be the most successful marketing campaign of the last 30 years – to our detriment. Through persuasive advertising, soda companies convinced the public that municipal water was dirty and bottled water was pure and straight from the source, when in fact, it’s the opposite. Bottled water is less regulated than most city water, and it takes three times the water to manufacture one container of the same amount2. So every time you drink one bottle of disposable water, you are consuming four. For home or in the office, get your own BPA-free high-density plastic or reinforced glass bottle saves water, petroleum, and landfill.
4. Insulate your water heater and turn it down to 120° F.
You can dial back your spending on utilities with this quick fix, as well as replacing your shower head with an efficient water-saving fixture, and upgrading your thermostat, because the latest models are programmable and can actually talk to your smart phone. Many utility providers also offer incentives to replace older water heaters.
5. Use your skylights and windows during the day.
Isn’t it weird that we construct our homes so that we have to use power to light them? Opening up your curtains and blinds can reduce down the time that your lights are on, and replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs also saves a significant amount of energy. Something else to keep in mind: with a day or two’s worth of disruption, you can have sky tubes installed, letting concentrated natural light in through your roof, replacing your overhead lighting during the. It brightens the house beautifully and in the long-terms saves you electricity. Bonus: this is also mood enhancing, especially during the winter months.
6. Get into gardening.
By planting small bushes or trees strategically around the house, you can cut down on your heating bill in the summer. While few busy working parents have time to really do it up in the garden, having a compost bin and keeping a few evergreen herbs plants around is astonishingly simple and means that your food waste is not trash, but easily converted fuel. Bonus: you get fresh herbs for most of the year.
7. Say goodbye to junk mail and go paperless.
The average household in American receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year!3 If you happen to be a coupon clipper, use the Internet; those same retailers offer great deals online. Companies have carte blanche to send you as much useless paper as they want, as long as they have your address. Non-profits like GreenDimes and 41pounds.org can streamline the process of taking you name off of all those mailing lists. In addition, sitting down for just a few minutes and selecting the paperless billing options for your credit card, phone, electricity, and gas bills saves you time and saves them paper. Less clutter, less waste.
All these greening suggestions will innately save time, resources and, frankly, guilt. You can feel good about your home and illustrate pro-action to your kids. Moreover, with bigger projects like solar power, improved insulation, and eco-friendly roofing, you can put them on your list for the future as worthy investments. By the time our children are adults, HVAC and fossil-fuel powered vehicles will be a thing of the past. Making these changes now puts us incrementally closer to a cleaner, greener world.