Raising a Green Family – 25 Easy Ways to Conserve Our Planet and Save Yourself Money in the Process
So you want to “go green,” huh? I’ll tell you how!
Sell your minivan or SUV and buy a hybrid. And while you’re at it, have solar panels installed on your roof for an alternate energy source. Make your own clothing out of hemp grown in your own backyard, hydrated by water you’ve been collecting in rain barrels. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Let me know when you’re done.
What’s that? You don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on new cars and total home remodels?
Okay, neither do I.
What we need are feasible and realistic ideas to help us leave a smaller carbon footprint, reduce the consumption of resources, teach our kids how to be ecologically responsible, and how to save some money in the process! We all know how to throw things in the recycle bin, but there are other easy things we can do every day.
Re-use shopping bags. You can buy cloth shopping bags at almost any store these days. They are inexpensive and sturdy, and are usually very roomy. If you don’t want to invest in shopping bags, ask for paper bags. We don’t need more plastic polluting our oceans.
Replace the light bulbs in your home with fluorescent bulbs, and turn off lights when not in use. You’d be surprised how much power it takes to illuminate a standard incandescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs are 4 to 6 times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs.
Try not to buy bottled water. Are we really willing to pay a buck or more, for water? If you don’t like the taste of tap water, an inexpensive water filtration system on your kitchen faucet will produce better tasting water. Buy yourself a groovy water bottle to refill and keep with you. You will save yourself a lot of money!
Become a bento family. You don’t need plastic baggies and disposable containers to pack these eco-friendly lunches, and the very design encourages people to pack healthier, less processed foods. Which leads me to my next tip…
Stop buying processed foods. I know we’re all busy, but setting aside some time to make freezer meals or prepare snacks yourself is much better than buying sodium and high fructose corn syrup laden foods.
Buy from local farmers. There are so many benefits, I don’t know where to start. Local produce is fresh, often organic, and always more delicious. Local farmers and business owners are supported, and large gas-guzzling trucks have not had to crate the produce to stores.
Carpool. Carpool with co-workers, other parents, friends. You’ll all save money on gas, and fewer carbon emissions are always a good thing.
Walk or ride bikes. Obviously, the added bonus here is the physical exercise for your family.
Participate in or organize clothing swaps. We all know how fast our kids outgrow their clothes, and we spend a lot of money on new clothes for them. Some PTO parents and churches have been known to organize clothing swaps. Meaning, people bring clothes to donate, and they take what they need. This is an excellent way to reduce consumption of resources, and save us a TON of money!
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
Turn off computers when not is use or at night. Don’t just sleep or hibernate them.
Reuse gift bags and gift wrap. A friend of mine and I made an agreement years ago that we would not write on the tags on gift bags when we gave each other gifts, that way we can reuse the perfectly pristine gift bags.
Turn down the thermostat, especially at night. Just turning it down a degree or two will show savings on your heating bill.
Install weather stripping around doors and windows.
Hang clothing to dry, or remove clothes from the dryer before they are completely dry. A clothes dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $85 to operate annually. That’s why you won’t see an Energy Star sticker on a clothes dryer anytime soon.
Don’t rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Scrape them, but let your dishwasher do the work.
Take showers, not baths. Believe it or not, you save a lot of water. If you can stand turning off the water while you soap up and scrub, even better.
Don’t use spray air fresheners. Use natural things to freshen your home.
Visit the local library instead of buying books. Unless your child has a favorite book he or she will read again and again, just borrowing books from the library actually promotes reading because there are new and exciting books to read on a regular basis. Added bonus, it’s free!
Buy rechargeable batteries. It will be a small initial investment, but will save you a lot of money.
Recycle gifts. This is a taboo subject, but haven’t we all done this before? Re-gifting may be a hard thing for some people to get used to, but isn’t it better than shoving the unwanted gift on a shelf and letting it clutter your home? Schedule a gift swap with your friends after the holidays, doing it Yankee-Swap style would be a lot of fun.
Use both sides of paper. Whenever possible, print on both sides of the paper.
Pay your bills online. Whenever possible, request that companies do not send you statements and invoices in the mail.
If you have a baby or about to have one, please consider using cloth diapers. Cloth diapering will equal enormous savings, and much less waste. One toddler can produce a garbage bag full of dirty disposable diapers a week.
Make your own baby food. Again, so many benefits. Take that local produce you bought and turn it into delicious stuff for your baby. It saves money, it’s natural, it tastes better, and you aren’t throwing away plastic baby food containers.
See? Easy peasy. You don’t have to blow the lock of your wallet in order to keep your family green, although a new hybrid car would be nice, huh?