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

environment, charitable causes, language, toddler activities


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Katsa... Katsandkids

cloth diapers. Americans throw away 570 disposal

diapers every second they are full of toxic chemicals

check out

LKRachel LKRachel

in addition to going meatless for at least a meal a week, when you do eat meat and dairy, go organic.  I heard that cows in organic farms produce less methane than regular cows!

and ditto the cloth diapers- they're easier than you think!  Even using a couple of them a day is a money saver and saves a couple a day from being thrown in a landfill- every little bit helps!

Shanin22 Shanin22

Normally I'm not a big "green" person, but I really liked your article and found all the suggestions to be realistic. We already use reusable bags and always walk to our favorite donut shop a little over a half mile away (makes me feel less guilty about eating them, lol). A meatless night seems completely reasonable and I think something my family will try.

I know everyone loves the planet... but realistically people won't change unless it's resonably convenient or saves them money. All these suggestions are definitely reasonable.

Lauren Elizabeth Lee Arnold

I wish I had the time & money for cloth diapers I award any mom that uses them, my daughter is potty training now though.

but for the whole meatless night thing, we don't eat any beef or pork but we have ground turkey, turkey bacon and we eat chicken....and then we have pizza on Friday night, veggie of course!

it's actually not that hard since we flavor the ground turkey with taco seasoning for mexican dishes, Italian seasoning for spaghetti or whatever! Nobody can tell the difference...even my husband doesn't mind and he is a BIG steak kinda guy....there are also a lot of different turkey burger recipe's but I will tell you a must, it's Lipton dry Onion soup packets! and you can used a lid to form the a big peanutbutter type lid and they all come out uniform!

and it's even helping me lose weight! 

Jenny301 Jenny301

@Lauren- Cloth diapering may have a larger start-up cost, but it is cheaper in the long run.  And it doesn't take much time at all.  If you can operate a washing machine, you can use cloth diapers.  :)

MZ2007 MZ2007

We recycle anything with the recycling symbol on it at our house & find uses in craft projects for other things, use reuseable shopping bags, as a family we go for walks & pick up trash when we see it (there is so much just off of the highway where we live & walk), wash most of our laundry in cold water, unplug things that aren't being used, wash & reuse disposable forks, spoons & knives, we eat venison in place of beef, shop at second hand stores for a lot of things. I LOVE OUR EARTH!! It's the only one we have.

Jenni... JenniferHaas

I never go anywhere without my reuseable shopping bags.  I love them.   I unplug just about anything that doesn't need to be pluged in.  (The coffee maker, toaster, video game systems.....)  I have all the light bulbs in the house converted to floresant.  Each family member has their own reuseable mug/cup.  I never buy water bottles.   I wash everything in cold water.  We recycle everything we can.   And every chance I get I open up my house.  I turn off the air/heat and just let the outside in.

yobab... yobabywazup

How do reusable bags work? I use the grosery bags I get for everything! Kids use them to take lunch on field trips, and for their overnight stuff. I use them in diaper bag for soiled stuff and also we use them while on walks to pick up doggie doo! We also use them for garbage sooooooooo when people use reusable shopping bags do they buy baggies???

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