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We’ve known for a long time now that our impact on the environment is detrimental! Whether or not you believe in Global Warming (don’t rant here Junell), you can’t deny that the human race wastes so much each year that plants, animals, our water, and the air we breath are all suffering negatively. I would be lying to you if I said that we were one of those amazing families who puts modern conveniences aside for the betterment of the Earth. I love anything that makes my life more convenient!
As more and more stories come out about trash islands in the oceans and turtles who are deformed or have straws stuck in their noses, or whales dying with hundreds of pounds of plastic in them, it has become clear that we all should be making some changes. Is it realistic for everyone to give up all plastics or go completely green? No. But we can all make some small, even gradual changes at home to show our children a kinder way to live, hopefully making the planet a little better for their children!
When I read about ways to reduce our carbon footprint, I read about all these natural soaps, riding your bike to work and the store, making your own conditioner with apple cider vinegar, or switching to bamboo tooth brushes. If you want to go that deep, go for it, but I don’t want my hair smelling funky, and I’m a huge advocate of throwing a tooth brush away after Strep Throat, which we get a lot! I’m talking about little, easy switches we can make that can have a huge impact if a lot of people will make them.
I’ve always been slightly embarrassed by the amount of trash we haul the the curb each week. Our little family of 4 can easily fill up a large trash can, and then some! How in the world can we be so wasteful? I realized a while ago, that we’re just mostly lazy! A lot of what we were throwing away were items that should be recycled. Sure, I’ve always remembered to recycle the cans (mostly), milk jugs and newspapers, but what about everything else?
I realized that we could be recycling a lot more if we’d just remember to do it! I made a rule, if it’s being thrown out, whatever part is plastic or paper has to go in the recycle bag, and if you forget, you get to dig through the trash for it! Our family does not like gross things, so the rule has been pretty effective! LOL! Now, if a veggie goes bad, it gets thrown away but the bag it was in gets recycled, paper wrappers don’t go in the trash and more. This simple rule has made a massive impact on our trash to recycling ratio. I finally realized a few weeks ago that our recycling can is overflowing on trash day, and the trash can is not even full! So we’re still wasteful and getting rid of stuff, but at least that stuff is headed in the right direction now!
Speaking of trash, here we are trying to make a difference by recycling more but then we still throw our trash away in giant trash bags. Enter the Hippo Sak!
The Hippo Sak is a trash bag (they make all sizes) that is made from plastic that was bound for the ocean, collected then recycled. Here’s the really cool thing, the plastic is collected in 3rd World Countries not only cleaning up their beaches, but also providing jobs for people living in extreme poverty. Purchasing the Hippo Sak brand gives you two gold stars! One for the environment and one for helping people in need! What an incredible product to share with your children and use to discuss how we can impact the entire world with a simple purchase.
I know, not all of us have green thumbs, BUT if I can make certain things grow, I promise you can too! We all know plants help clean our air. If you didn’t know that, maybe go back to elementary school science class, lol! But the other thing I realized as I purchased a bushel of cilantro & parsley every single week is that these would be put into a plastic bag for purchase, then the bag was immediately discarded when we got home!
I have found that I can grow Rosemary, Parsley, Basil, and Mint and not kill them each year! Haha! Cilantro will stick around until we get too hot for it. These herbs taste so much better coming from our backyard than from the store anyway, and every plant I purchase comes in a biodegradable pot to reduce the plastic waste as well. I spent less than $2 on each plant this season (and spend at least $1 every time I purchase it at the store), and they will grow all summer, saving me money for the next few months!
I’ve hated Easter Grass for years. It’s literally always been my least favorite part of the entire holiday. I dread getting it out and putting it in the kids’ baskets because my cats then eat it and spend the next week yacking it up all over my house until I gather it all up and throw it away. Then it sits in the landfill forever! With Easter only the day before Earth Day this year, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something you could do specifically for Easter to help the planet!
I discovered the crinkle paper stuff a few years ago when I was the auction chair for our PTA. I had to assemble over 100 baskets and bought this stuff in bulk. It never crossed my mind to use it for Easter until I forgot to buy stuff for the baskets and the store was sold out of Easter Grass. I found the paper in my stash and realized that not only was it environmentally friendly, but my cats don’t find it nearly as appetizing, LOL!
I loved my Kurig and used it until it died, then got a Nespresso. The two items have saved me a TON of money at Starbucks over the years. But if I use 1-2 pods every day, each day of the year, that’s a lot of coffee pods that I’m throwing away as opposed to using a French Press!
Woken Coffee Pods are a new brand of coffee that comes in a compostable pod, and are made with 100% green energy! While these are only compatible with the original Nespresso machine size, brands are popping up left and right with similar features!
I’m a big fan of drinking from a straw. It’s so much easier for the kids to not make a mess, and you can’t have a frozen margarita without one! We tried to make the switch to paper straws a while back but they were not our thing! They start to get mushy, and things just don’t taste the same with them.
Then we discovered Metal Straws and they seem to be the right answer! They’re pretty easy to clean (unless your 6 year old leaves them in chocolate milk and you don’t find it for a few days) and you can use them hundreds of times over! Considering a pack of 8 is less than $10, you’ll make the value back fairly quickly! And the turtles will thank you.
By the time we reach Friday each week, we have used at least 25 ziplock baggies for lunches and snacks alone, if not more! Lunch is packed in the morning then the bags are thrown away just a few hours later at school or the office. While they’re super convenient, if our family alone uses 1200+ a year, think of how many bags are thrown away just in your own neighborhood!!!
What if you made the switch to reusable bags for lunches and freezer storage? While $10 for 3 bags may seem like a big initial investment, if I’m going through $5 a week in baggies, I’ll make back that $10 really fast! Reusable bags really can help lower your environmental footprint at lunchtime, with really no extra effort other than remembering not to throw them away at the end of the meal.
We’ve all been there, one of the easiest way to send someone on to heaven is with a balloon send off. Or you buy a dozen for your kiddos birthday party only to let go of them by accident sending them into the sky.
When my Pops passed away 4 years ago, we wanted to send him letters to heaven. He loved getting mail and we could think of no better way to send him off. But in doing so, we went off 24 balloons to wind up somewhere they shouldn’t be! Maybe a bird picked one up, they landed in a local lake, or wherever, I wish we had thought of something more responsible to do.
Instead of a balloon release consider something else like: planting a remembrance tree or flowers, painted rocks, pinwheels or kites, bubbles, fundraising or food drives, decorate a bird feeder, or spread wildflower seeds.
Do you have a big old tub in your playroom full of markers and maybe only 1/4 of them aren’t dried out? About once a year I make the kids go through and test their markers and dump the ones that are dried up. Recently, I found out that Crayola has an excellent program to solve this problem!
Simply visit the Crayola homepage, then scroll all the way to the bottom menu. Under Educator Resources, you’ll find Marker Recycling. Follow the below banner to get to the Crayola Homepage.Visit Crayola!
We go through tons of water bottles every year! Even as I try to reduce how many we use, I’m constantly buying them. They’re just so easy. The more I focus on the environment, the more I notice them littering our parks and playgrounds.
Here’s the thing, even though they’re super convenient, I don’t even like water bottles! In the Texas Summers, they stay cold for all of 5 minutes, then if I threw it in my purse, the condensation soaks everything I’m carrying around. We’ve been making an effort to switch to reusable water bottles. There is no beating the Yeti brand but there are a ton of more affordable options if the budget doesn’t afford too many of these babies. What I do love about them is that my drink stays cold for HOURS and it doesn’t sweat all over my bag!
Do you play the same game I do, and keep all the sizes in your closet that you’ve ever worn only to realize that if you do get yourself small enough to get into your jeans from 8 years ago they won’t be in style anyway? Donating them is a great option but if you want to make a little on them, consider selling them on Thread Up!
Thread Up is a really cool concept. They send you a package for you to put your used clothes in (check their website for brands they’re accepting) and you send them off. If you select standard turn around, they’ll have your purchase price back to you within 4 weeks. What they can’t keep they will then responsibly recycle, which is amazing! To me, this is 1000x better than hauling all of my old stuff out to a garage sale, selling them for $1 a piece, only to have people hand me piles of clothes, making me count them, and hoping to rip me off or try to negotiate cents off. You can then use your money as cash or to buy something super cute for yourself! I just ordered my kit and cannot wait to clean out my closet!
There are literally hundreds of ways you can make an impact on the environment in your everyday life with your family. The best part is, most of these really require very little effort! Luke has loved participating in our school’s World of Wonder Garden Club! Last month he worked really hard on the compost pile! When kids ban together they can do some really amazing work! What are some of the ways you are trying to be more environmentally friendly?
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