A lot of us have good intentions when it comes to “going green,” but get overwhelmed when trying to figure it out. We just don’t have a lot of time to learn how to go about it.
Lucky for you, I’ve taken the footwork out of it! Here are 69 ways to “go green” as a family:
In the Kitchen
1.Find ways to base most of your family meals around locally sourced foods. A lot of gas goes into getting your food to the grocery store. Besides that, it loses a lot of its freshness in the process.
2. Eat at least one meat-free meal per week. Raising livestock is one of the most water-guzzling activities in the world, and the process also releases some serious greenhouse gases.
3. Brew only fair-trade, sustainable coffee beans. Pesticides, pollution, extinction, inhumane labor practices and deforestation are all problems involved in conventional coffee bean production. Is all of this really necessary when we can do better?
4. Opt for reusable cloths over paper towels. Did you realize Americans use 13 billion pounds of this paper product annually? This doesn’t count all the disposable napkins and tissues used for blowing and wiping as well.
This problem creates a great use for all those torn or stained t-shirts and other material waste.
5. What to do with all of that food scrap waste? Don’t just toss it in the trash! A lot of it is compostable. You can also use veggie scraps in soups, bones to make broth, etc.
Want to participate in the composting movement, but don’t know how or wish you had a composter to share it with? Here ya go!
In the Bathroom
7. Invest in cleaner personal products. There are over 80,000 untested chemicals in products on the market and many of them are on the ingredients lists of shampoos, soaps, skin care and cosmetics that we use every day.
These chemicals have been linked to skin disorders, hormonal/reproductive issues and a variety of cancers. Do your family a favor, and start running products through the EWG database prior to purchasing.
Beautycounter is another great resource for safer cosmetics and skin care for your family’s needs.
8. Try switching to a menstrual cup, period panties, reusable pads or organic feminine protection for your next cycle. The old ways have been putting unnecessary chemicals into our bodies and water sources.
9. Look into replacing your toxin-filled air fresheners and scented products with essential oils. One scent can contain a dozen or more toxic ingredients that are never even disclosed because the company has the right to consider them proprietrary.
10. Set a timer for shower taking. It may seem really silly, but you could be surprised to learn how long your shower or those of other family members actually are.
In the Bedroom
11. Try using blackout curtains in the bedrooms and other areas of your home where temperature is crucial. This can dramatically decrease your reliance on heating and cooling appliances.
12. Natural furnishings, though a bit costly, are a much healthier choice due to all of the chemicals involved in the construction process and the off-gassing afterward. You can save money by searching for real wood pieces at thrift stores, etc.
When doing Laundry
13. Most loads will clean up just fine when running cold water. Give your water heater a rest.
14. Don’t run the dryer during warm months. Hang clothes on a line, or a drying rack.
15. Say no to the dryer sheets. They may decrease static and leave your clothes smelling beautiful, but they are also absolutely loaded with harmful chemicals that your entire family will be inhaling for the entire day.
How about trying some wool dryer balls dotted with your favorite essential oil instead? They also seriously cut down your drying time.
16. Have you read the backs of some of your cleaning products lately? This is an area that can often use a major toxin reduction. The thing is, you can do so much with just vinegar and baking soda!
17. Skip the microfibers. Stick with leftover cotton scraps of material cut from old clothing,etc.
In the Office
18. There are printers now that utilize both sides. If you or someone in your family has a prints regularly, it’s a worthwhile investment and doesn’t cost any more than a regular printer.
19. Try not to upgrade your electronics until absolutely necessary. When you do, remember to always recycle the E-waste. 150 million mobile phones alone are discarded each year. Here are the harsh facts.
20. Put a stop to all of the unsolicited mail. This website has several links for signing up to end the steady stream of junk that is invading your mailbox daily.
21. Pay your bills online.
22. Use E-tickets instead of the printed version whenever you have the option.
With your Utilities
23. Consider installing a low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators to conserve water. With the showerhead, you can save 35 gallons during your average 10-minute shower. That also means less use of your water heater.
If you own a house that was built after 1994, it already has the aerators installed.
24. Decrease the flow of your toilets by adding a jar to your toilet tanks.
25. Either unplug cords when not in use or purchase smartstrips, which allow you to simply flip a switch that turns off multiple electronics.
26. Adjust your water heater temperature to as low as is comfortable.
27. The next time you need a new appliance, consider Energy Star appliances. They are much more efficient and, since appliances account for approximately 20% of your household energy use, they can also save you significant money when the bill arrives.
28. Many power companies will perform an energy audit in your home for free. It’s a valuable resource because they tend to find a lot of ways you can make your home more energy-efficient.
29. Look into your power company’s options for renewable energy. If it’s available to you, the switch can offer you savings that will also help protect the environment.
30. Switch to Nest thermostats, which allow you to both set up a schedule and operate them remotely. So if you forget to adjust the temp you can do it anywhere, anytime! They will also email you an efficiency report each month.
31. The lower you can stand the temperature in the wintertime and the higher you can handle the heat in the summertime, the better off your energy bill will be.
32. On a day where there is a comfortable breeze, train yourself to open the windows before turning on the air.
33. There are some really effective fans out there. Give it a shot on days that aren’t super hot. You can even sit one in front of your open window and/or behind a bowl of ice, for more of an effect.
35. Before the winter season hits, be sure to weatherize your home!
37. Plant some trees! There are so many benefits.
38. Who says we have to be a slave to a manicured grass lawn? By keeping it more natural with native species like clover or one of these. And if you do choose to go the grass route, there are ways to avoid bee-harming pesticides and still experience beautiful results.
39. Keep your vehicles well-maintained. Things like dirty air filters and spark plugs truly can leave an environmental mark.
40. Carpool whenever you can. Did you know that the Waze app many of us use for gps directions also has a carpooling option? The less cars on the road, the less stifled mother nature feels. Here are 5 benefits you may not have thought of.
41. Sure, not everyone can afford an electric car–yet. But these regional discounts may make it a little bit easier where you live, and check out these coming out in 2020. Studies show that driving one can cut your operation costs and your emissions in half.
42. It may be tempting to leave the car running on a hot summer day when you are waiting in your car, but consider this:
“For every 10 minutes your car remains off, you are preventing 1 full pound of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere.”
43. Limit your time in an airplane. Unfortunately, flying is one of the most environmentally harmful acts we can take. On a personal note though, travelling is one of the activities that brings me the most joy in life. So I try to use a car, bus or train first; and then if I do have to travel by air, I use the carbon offset method to make me feel just a bit better.
On the Go
44. Avoid buying bottled water if at all possible. Invest in a Berkey water filtering system, which filters out pretty near everything. Then find a stainless steel or glass reusable bottle to fill when you are on your way out the door.
45. If you like to visit the coffee shops for your caffeine fix, don’t forget to grab a reusable coffee thermos before you head out the door. Besides the waste factor–those plastic-lined, coffee-contaminated cups are NOT recyclable— the plastic is toxic, especially when combined with hot coffee.
46. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Not only do you get that extra little boost of exercise, but you also save electricity.
47. Always think a purchase through before you close the sale. Do you really truly need it, and is there a way to get it used instead?
48. When you can’t escape making a new purchase, do try to find something that is even just the slightest bit more eco-friendly. And don’t get duped! There is a lot of “greenwashing” going on out there.
50. When shopping for groceries, it’s most important to avoid the dirty dozen. For those 12 items you should always try to purchase organic.
51. Buy things in bulk whenever you can, and bonus points if you bring your own reusable containers. Zero-waste stores are popping up everywhere!
52. Here is a great link for figuring out how to grocery shop in your city in more of a zero-waste fashion.
53. If a clothing label says “dryclean only,” move on! The chemicals involved in this process are terrible for our environment and our bodies. At the very least, try to find a greener way of doing so.
54. Always bring along a reusable bag or two when you are going to be doing some shopping. It really is one of the most concerning pieces of environmental waste out there, due to its use of oil and harm to marine life.
For those of you who are as forgetful as I am when it comes to grabbing your bags, there are even some versions that will fold up into the bottom of your purse.
55. Instead of shopping, host a swap! There are so many options, from clothing to books to household items, and even food!
56. Instead of buying gift wrap and bags, try one of these fabulous and eco-friendly diy versions. Did you realize that half of the paper we use in the U.S. every year goes to gift wrapping, and much of that is not recyclable?
57. Make “going green” fun for the whole family by setting up a “green fund.” Basically, you just add up all of your savings from using less power and water, using less paper products, growing your own food, carpooling, and buying less in general.
Put that money into a jar each week, and set a goal together for what you want the money to go toward after a set period of time.
58. Reuse, reuse, reuse!
59. Leave the books on the shelves and select to use its digital version whenever you can.
60. Avoid taking notes on paper when you can type them out on a laptop or ipad instead!
61. Have you ever heard of a “walking school bus?” Apparently, it’s like carpooling the kids to school, only parents take turns walking the neighborhood kids to school. So cool!
In your Community
62. Organize a neighborhood cleanup. Make friends and leave your surrounding trash-free all in the same swoop. Here’s how:
63. When it comes time to head to the polls, vote for the city officials that will have your best environment in mind.
Learn more & Pass it along
65. Lead your kids both by example and through fun activities for the age level where they are at.
66. Have a contest among family members to see who can leave the least waste in their trash bin in a week’s time. Come up with a prize for the winner.
67. Learn to recycle properly based on your area’s guidelines. Every place is a little bit different. Check the website of your local curb pickup service for the details.
68. Campaign for environmental issues and leaders on a state/national level.
69. Enjoy nature. It’s what we’re fighting for. The more you see, the more motivated to do the above things you will be.
Did you enjoy what you just read? Sign up for my green mama vault of information, including a list for how to reuse practically everything!
Are you planning to add anything from this list to what you are already doing? Comment down below.