God has given us a beautiful world to live in and take care of. We all need to do our part to keep this world clean and healthy. It’s very faddish right now to talk about reducing your carbon footprint and eating local, but even if you can’t switch to a hybrid car right now, there are still simple ways you and your family can make a difference to the environment:
Use fewer plastic bags
Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year – the equivalent of dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil. In addition to the petroleum or natural gas used to make the bags themselves, the inks and colorants on the bags often contain lead.
To reduce your use of plastic bags,
- Bring your own cloth bags when you go to the grocery store
- Re-use the bags you already have
- Pack lunches and leftovers in re-usable containers instead of plastic bags
When you can’t avoid plastic bags, recycle them. Only one percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
You can also use plastic bags for craft projects. The website www.artistshelpingchildren.org has lots of ideas for plastic bag crafts children can make.
Use less water and electricity
Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth. Turn off lights and the television when no one is in the room. Check out xeriscaping at www.eartheasy.com for a yard that needs minimal watering.
And speaking of water, avoid bottled water. Bottled water costs a thousand times more than tap water and the bottles clog our landfills. Opt for reusable water bottles instead.
Leave the car in the garage
Instead of taking your car everywhere, walk, ride a bike, carpool, or use public transportation. Imagine – you’ll not only help the environment, but you’ll save money and improve your health at the same time.
To encourage children to walk to school, look into starting a “walking school bus” in your community. A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school with one or more adults. Go to www.walkingschoolbus.org/ for more information.
Plant a tree and a garden
In addition to providing shade and beauty, trees produce oxygen, remove pollution from the air, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Make it a family event to plant a tree. Your children will enjoy watching their tree grow and showing it their own children when they grow up!
Planting a garden is another activity you and your family can enjoy together. In addition to reducing your grocery bill, you will enjoy fresh, healthy produce. Gardening is the ultimate way to eat local!
Use it up
Have you heard the old saying “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”? Perhaps we all need to develop more of this attitude in our lives. Make sure you use both sides of a piece of paper (and then recycle it). Share books with friends or borrow them from the library. Teach your kids to put lids back on markers and to use just a drop of glue.
Some of these ideas will cost you a little in time: for example, if you choose to walk to the grocery store instead of driving. However, did you notice how many of these ideas save you money and are good for your health? Sounds like a good trade-off in which everyone wins.