Earth Day & Every Day: 5 Simple Ways Families Can Go Green

EarthTomorrow is Earth Day, and our planet will get some much-need attention and extra love as events are held across the country. It's a great time to reflect on our resources and what we can do to preserve them.

But what about the rest of the year? Sure, we may recycle here and there, but are we really doing everything we can to do our part? There are plenty of other little things we can do in our day-to-day lives that make a big difference, but too often we're too busy, or too lazy, or just don't know what to do.

Ian James Corlett is the author of E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World -- at Home, at School, and at Play. He shares five things all families can do to keep our earth green and clean:


Action #1: Hunt for Vampires

Energy vampires that is. Did you know that all those “wall warts” we have plugged in all over the place are sucking electricity out of your home even if nothing is connected on the other end? Yup. And all those little red lights you see on TVs and other gadgets are also energy vampires. So get the family together and go on a hunt! Give everyone a scrap of paper (like a junk mail envelope) and scan your whole house to find these little suckers. Of course you can’t unplug all of them (Dad needs to DVR his favorite shows!) but you’ll be amazed at how many you find that can be unplugged.

Action #2: Paper, Plastic, or ...

How about neither! Did you know that an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed every year clogging up our oceans and landfills? Next time you head to the grocery store, get your kids to be in charge of remembering to bring your own reusable bags. It’ll give them a sense of responsibility and help our environment too.

Action #3: Bottled Up ...

Instead of decorating Easter eggs this year, why not try decorating reusable water bottles? Give everyone in your family a personal water bottle and let them put their own stamp on it. You can use permanent markers, paint, whatever you like. Decorating it will give them ownership and give each family member a chance to unleash their inner artist!

Action #4: Meatless Monday

It doesn't have to be a Monday, but make one meal a week without meat. Why? Did you know that cattle expel more harmful gas into the atmosphere than cars and that cows and pigs are the second largest polluters of gases on the planet? (Peeyuu!) Families who eat a meatless meal once a week can make a dent in that statistic. One easy idea is veggie-dogs. Kids probably won’t even realize they’re not made out of meat. Not to mention that eating a vegetarian meal is tasty AND healthy for you! 

Action #5: Smile, It's Only a Mile

Think about all the short trips we make every week. Like to the post office, or the grocery store, or school. If it’s under a mile, walk it. Get out a map with your kids ... wait, who are we kidding ... search Google Maps, and mark your house on it. Then look at all the shops and services you regularly drive to that are within a mile. Then try walking to these places instead. Especially with your kids. Walking with your kids is not only great for your health and the planet’s health (one less car), but it’s a great opportunity to bond too!

What green activities does your family do together?

Image via FlyingSinger/Flickr

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