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May 1, 2013

10 Ways to Go Green

Well, as April has come to an end (which is crazy!), I thought I'd wrap up our "Earth Days" month with a short list of ways your family can "go green."  Some of these are different things we've reviewed or posted about during the month, and others are just things our family does or would like to do.

1.  Recycle:  This is one I'd assume most of us do, but just in case....recycling is important!  Get your kids involved--let them sort your recyclables.  If they don't have a pickup at your home for recycling, bring it in once a month.  In our area, #5's aren't recyclable, but I can bring them in to our local Whole Foods, where they'll recycle for us.  Once you get in the habit of recycling, it becomes really easy!  Here's a post written by Jen, about when her family began recycling: Recycling is Fun! (and a lot of work)

2.  Reusable Shopping Bags:  All those plastic bags you get at the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, basically every store, can really add up.  But one way to reduce plastic bag waste is to get some reusable shopping bags.  You can buy them at the grocery store, and often, they're given away at events and things.  Use them!!  I just keep them in my car, so I always have them with me when I'm out.  And just use them instead of the plastic ones at the store.  We've really cut down on our plastic bags at home by doing this, which is keeping lots and lots of bags out of the landfill!

3.  Reusable Snack Bags:  One way we've reduced our waste is by buying some reusable snack bags. At first, my husband was a little embarrassed to use these at work, but he kept up with it, and now loves it.  And saves us money and garbage by not using plastic ziploc bags every day!  He puts his sandwiches, chips, carrots, etc. in our reusable bags at lunch.  I also use them for snacks for Myles while we're out and about.  They're really convenient, and I keep finding new ways to use them.  You can find reusable snack bags all over etsy.  And some of our favorites are from Re-Pac, which often has Living Social deals and coupons, making them even more affordable.

4.  Unpaper Towels/Cloth Napkins:  Another way to reduce paper waste at home is to invest in some unpaper towels and cloth napkins.  While it's more money upfront, you definitely save money in the long run!  Now that we've consistently been using our unpaper towels from Joyful Girl Designs, I haven't had to buy paper towels in at least 6 months!!  And we haven't jumped on the cloth napkin wagon yet, but I'd really like to in the next few months.

5.  Make your own Cleaning Supplies:  One way I've tried to be really intentional about going green in our home is by not buying cleaning supplies anymore.  It sounded crazy when I first started, but honestly has been much easier, and much much cheaper than I would have thought!!  Cleaning supplies you get from the store have so many chemicals I just didn't want around myself and my family.  By making them myself, I know exactly what we're exposing ourselves to.  And honestly, so far, they all work just as well as the store bought kinds.  I've also been making my own laundry detergent and using vinegar instead of softener, and both of these work just as well, if not better as the Tide and Downy I'd been using before.  You can find recipes for homemade cleaning solutions all over pinterest and online, but most involve vinegar, baking soda, and different essential oils.

6.  Rain Barrel:  I wrote a post on this a few weeks ago, but if you have a place to put one, invest in a rain barrel!!  They not only save water, but save you lots of money!  They basically just collect rain water that you can use to water your plants.

7.  Teach your Kids:  Basically, just teach your kids to conserve energy and/or water.  If I let him, my son would be a major source of water waste.  He absolutely LOVES to turn the faucets on and off and play in the water.  Now, this isn't always a bad thing, but if I let him, the bathroom faucet would be on 24/7, wasting gallons and gallons of water.  So, at 22 months, I'm doing my best to teach him not to waste the water; to turn the faucet (and leave it!) off while he's brushing his teeth; that he doesn't need the tub to be completely full of water to take a bath.... things like that.  And with older kids, turning off lights when they leave the room, or turning off electronics when they're done with them.  These are simple things that can make a big impact.  And things our kids need to learn!!  They won't (usually) just come naturally.

8.  Limit Driving:  If you live in a place like me, it would be impossible to walk everywhere.  It would take me all day to get to the grocery store and back.  So we do a lot of driving.  But I try to combine trips and run all our errands for the day at once.  Or, if I need to go to the far side of town, I wait until I have a few errands to run out there so I don't need to make the long trip more than once a week.  And when we can, we do walk or ride our bike to run short errands.  My husband even rides his bike to work most of the time!  It's less than 2 miles from home, and with traffic and parking, he can usually bike there faster than he can drive.

9.  Borrow Things:  A way that we've tried to reduce some of our waste (and needless buying) is by borrowing and swapping things within our community.  Some of my girlfriends from church have a clothes swap once a season, where everyone brings clothes they no longer want or fit into, and then we basically go shopping in each other's clothes!  It's a lot of fun, and you get free clothes out of the deal.  It also keeps me from buying new clothes.  We also do this with kids clothes and toys.  And I'm sure there are also ways of doing this with household goods as well.

10.  Cloth Diaper: And last but not least, use cloth diapers!!  This isn't the easiest one on the list, but I'm guessing many of you already do this, which is why you're reading :)  But cloth diapering is an awesome way to reduce waste!!  And if you already cloth diaper but haven't made the plunge into cloth wipes yet, try them!!  They're really easy once you try.  I actually find it to be more work to pick dirty disposable wipes out of my diapers than to just toss everything right into our wet bag.

So, there you have it.  10 (relatively) simple ways for your family to go green this spring!!  Do you have any other ways your family is going green?  Or have you tried any on this list already?

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