How to Instill Green Practices Into Your Young Family

Reader Contribution by Bobbi Peterson
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Many families today want to go green and save the environment for future generations. As many as 1 billion trees are thrown away in the form of paper every year in the United States. Add to that the plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic bags, and the impact is enormous.

Children are taught about the environment and often learn how to recycle at school. But if families don’t practice green habits at home, they’re less likely to stick. Parents play a crucial role in instilling green practices into their family. Doing so will help your children to be aware of the impact each person has on the environment and allow you to all work together to reduce your carbon footprint as a family.

Basic Recycling

Probably one of the simplest things you can do as a family is to begin some basic recycling practices. Purchase recycling containers and place them in your kitchen. Teach young children how to sort by paper, plastic and aluminum. You should also have a bin for perishable items, such as banana peels and egg shells. You can use these to create your own compost pile.

Organic Gardening

Speaking of a compost pile, if you aren’t already keeping a small garden for your family, you should consider starting one. Even if you have limited outdoor space, you can grow a few plants in containers on your patio or a windowsill. Not only will you control the food itself and avoid contact with pesticides, but you’ll also prevent pesticide runoff from commercial crops, which is detrimental to the environment. By growing your own, you reduce the need for mega crops.

Conserve Water

Some areas of the U.S., such as California, suffer from droughts and water shortages. Water is a limited resource and may one day become scarce in even more areas. Because of this, it is vital to conserve this life-giving commodity. There are a number of things you can practice that will teach children to save water.

Ask them to wet their toothbrushes and then turn off the faucet while brushing teeth. Over time, this type of energy conservation adds up. Instead of running a sprinkler for hours on end during the summer, fill a small pool and encourage them to play in that instead. If you must water your yard, put your sprinkler on a timer to make sure you aren’t over-watering. Go ahead and let the kids run through it while it has to run anyway. Reduce the time each person has for showers as well.

Adjust the Thermostat

Encourage your family to set the thermostat just one degree warmer in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter. This will not only in reduce energy use but will also save you money on your energy bills. Once they are used to that one-degree adjustment, make it a challenge to go another degree in one direction or the other, depending upon the season.

Keep going until you raise or lower it as much as you comfortably can. You can save a whopping 10% on heating and cooling costs  if you adjust your thermostat to between seven and 10 degrees for only eight hours during the day. If you are out of the house for a portion of the day, that is a good time to make the change.

Combine Trips

The average American takes about four trips each day, and 87% of those are in personal vehicles. That requires a lot of fuel and releases a lot of emissions into the environment. On top of that, the cost of fuel adds up, as does the wear and tear on your car. Even if your family is crazy busy, try to find ways you can combine trips and reduce the number you are taking as a family.

Instead of going out every Saturday, plan a backyard staycation. Yard games, a barbeque and an outdoor movie are a great start. If Susie has soccer practice until six and Johnny has a guitar lesson at eight, plan to stay in town for the two hours between rather than running back and forth. You can utilize the local library as a study spot or grab a bit to eat as a family.

Plan errands in a circular fashion whenever you can. Start at home and go in a circle to complete tasks until you return home. This will keep you from crisscrossing back and forth and wasting gas.

These are just a few ways you can begin to live greener and also save money at the same time. As you commit to green practices, you will likely come up with even more ways to make a positive difference and reduce your carbon footprint.

Bobbi Peterson is an environmental blogger who started the blog Living Life GreenFollow Bobbi on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Read all of Bobbi’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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