Many super-busy parents cringe in fear when they see the words "go green," thinking they don't have the time or the money to do it, especially in this economy. But the reality is, there are simple ways for families to begin to ease into green living. It is possible to find a way to make healthy choices and protect the planet within the resources we have at our disposal.
So, what are the next steps? There are many things that most of us already do each day that can be slightly altered to inspire you to create eco-habits, instead of eco-obligations. Here are some ideas:
Try eating less meat -- especially red meat. Cows require a lot of feed or grass to survive, they pollute water with their waste, and produce a large amount of greenhouse gases. For you and your family, eating a lot of meat can be strenuous on your digestive system and disagreeable for your overall health. Since you have to shop for food and make meals anyway, why not change it up and eat vegetarian a few times a week. Again, it's about habits.
Each piece of your trash has a final destination. You have landfill trash, recyclables, compostables, green waste, and donations. Create an easy way for everyone at home to sort their trash into one of these five areas – all on the fly. Make the process painless by having a simple system in place: regular trash bins, recycling receptacles, a bowl for compost items next to the kitchen sink, the green waste bin outside, and a box for donations in the garage.
Slow the Flow
While it's great to encourage family members not to waste water, a nearly effortless way to improve on those results and also help your bottom line is to install low-flow fixtures and low-flow toilets. You can easily exchange your showerhead for a water-saving variety that saves a gallon of water a minute. A faucet aerator for the kitchen or bathroom is a cheap replacement and can immediately cut water consumption in half.
Those Shoes are Made for Walking
Are you used to jumping in the car just to pick up milk from the corner store? Before you grab the keys, consider walking instead – to run errands, to get exercise, to go to the park for recreation. Have your children go with you. And as your children get older, they can take on these errands themselves. Walking is free, saves energy, produces no emissions (unless you count the production of the clothes and shoes you wear), and keeps you healthy. Viva la green!
Terra Wellington is the author of The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home. She encourages her kids to walk or ride their bikes to school whenever possible, and she gets her cardio outside for free on most days instead of driving to the gym.