There seems to be a snowball effect when you start living your life more intentionally. For me, it started with money. I was desperate to get out of debt, so I looked for as many ways as I could to reduce our expenses. Eventually, that led me to natural health. Which led me to greener living. And that left me wondering how my family of six could reduce our ecological footprint and live more sustainably.
As I become more
obsessed interested in reducing our family’s eco footprint, I find myself researching and implementing different ideas for doing so. Most things I try work, but not all are feasible for us to continue all the time (we just can’t commit to family cloth yet).
But by taking Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to heart, you can implement simple, sustainable (albeit unconventional) ways to help your family lesser their impact on the earth.
1. Plan your meals
2. Shower less frequently
Don’t wrinkle your nose. Often, people shower (or bathe their kids) every day whether they need to or not. Before hopping in out of habit, think about whether it’s really necessary. I was able to go much longer after I started making my own shampoo because my scalp didn’t get itchy between showers.
3. Wear clothes more than once
This goes along with the showering thing. When I was in high school, wearing clothes more than once was so uncool. Now, my jeans see days of wear before they hit the washer. (When they’re clean of course.) Wash clothes only when they’re dirty to lower water and electricity usage.
4. Hang your clothes to dry
I get really excited when I see a laundry line. Silly, I know, but laundry lines make me happy. They’re so simple to use and can save tons of money. Obviously, you won’t be using as much electricity, but it will also help your clothes last longer since they’re not being pounded in the dryer.
5. Bring home less waste
Avoid food and other products with lots of packaging. Buying in bulk helps a lot since you won’t have individually wrapped things coming into your home (It’s great for your budget, too!) If eating out, take along a reusable container for leftovers so you don’t have to bring home a wasteful container from the restaurant.
6. Grow your own veggies
Many veggies are shipped long distances, using lots of fuel just to get to your grocery store. Start a simple garden to reduce dependency on grocery-store produce.
7. Make a windowsill herb garden
Most of the herbs for sale in our area come packaged in plastic boxes. Eh, no thanks. Grow some of your favorite herbs in a sunny windowsill so you can add flavor to your food without extra waste. I like basil, mint and cilantro the best.
8. Have a yard sale
You know how when you’re done decluttering, you have a ton of stuff lying around your house that you need to get rid of? Rather than throwing it away (some people do that!), have a yard sale to spare a landfill and make some money from your excess stuff. If it’s not yard sale weather, donate it to a local thrift store, list it on Freecycle, or sell items on Craigslist.
9. Use your car less
Make an effort to stay at home more and drive less. Walk, bike or use public transit if possible to reduce your contribution to air pollution. If you’re in a rural area and that’s not feasible, try to select one day for errands and group them all together.
10. Invest in reusable bags
Or make them from scrap fabric. Countless plastic bags end up in landfills each year and don’t need to be there. Either buy or make bags in different sizes and take them with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Make small ones to use with bulk bins and produce. (Find shopping bags online here or produce bags online here.)
11. Dress in layers
We’ve learned to do this when we play outdoor sports, but this is a simple trick that can keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When it’s cold, layer tees, long-sleeve shirts and sweaters, instead of turning up the heat. Avoid the AC with layers that you can remove (stay dressed of course).
12. Buy gently used clothing
I love used clothes and hand-me-downs. We’ve been gifted with so many over the years, that I’ve rarely had to buy clothes for my kids. And if I do, I start at a thrift store or consignment shop. Same goes for me. The trick? Look for brands that you know will last.
How have you reduced your family’s ecological footprint?