earth friendly
Positively Green

By Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.

Raising a Moderate Eco-Friendly Family

Society has gone through swings in many different social issues, and in some ways being environmentally conscious is no different than some other issues which have risen and fallen in popularity and focus over the years. While current research into global climate change and sustainability of food sources is behind much of the current action, as with any movement it is hard to know how to become involved without having to completely change your life all at once. All too often the issues sound too radical, too confusing, or too hopeless, and people give up before making any lasting change. However, for the future of everyone's children, it is important to at least begin to take some steps toward making your family more eco-friendly. How? We'll give you some family-friendly ideas...

    1.) Reduce, reuse, recycle. Yes, it may be one of the oldest ideas in the environmental movement, but if every family adheres to these three basic principles, things would already improve. First, we would create less waste that requires dumping, burning or burying by reducing. Next fewer disposable products would be purchased instead of reusing older items when people learn to reuse more often. Finally, there would be more use of reclaimed materials if everyone learned to recycle all of their possible materials. Even young children can be taught to follow the 3R's and help out the reduce, reuse, recycle effort in your house.

    2.) Lower the thermostat. Lowering the temperature to heat a home saves not only fossil fuels, but fuel bills as well. Lowering the thermostat by 2 degrees generally will not make a noticeable difference in how your family feels, but you're likely to see savings in your utility bill while you use less fossil fuels. (Don't forget- in the summer save energy by turning that thermostat up when running your air conditioning unit!)

    3.) Share. It sounds silly, but sharing can be a great way to purchase some items and share others, while still living a great lifestyle. Many items you only need a few times a year and could be shared between family members or neighbors. You not only purchase less, but when one person's using the item, the other isn't, limiting the amount of energy used or pollution created! You can reduce the number of items that need to be manufactured, saving valuable energy costs, too. How about sharing: rides (carpooling), lawnmowers, weed whackers, chain saws, snowblowers, portable heaters, patio heaters, tents, RVs, and tons of other stuff!

    4.) Plant a garden with 4 vegetables you eat. Too many people think that to make a difference they need to plant and harvest all of their own vegetables that they will eat throughout the year. Then, they plant too much of things they don't like and NONE of it gets used! Instead, pick 4 vegetables your family would like to eat more often, and plant only those in a manageable plot. You'll be growing your own organic veggies and saving the transportation costs of items you'd buy in the store.

    5.) Walk more. Americans are certainly a driving society. We will drive 50 feet to the corner store to get a gallon of milk. In order to save on gas and get some exercise, consider using your feet instead of your gas pedal to get to close-by places. Families can walk together and spend time sharing information about their day while they get healthier. Not only will you be saving gas in the car, but you'll be saving electricity by turning off the TV, too!

Going greener is the goal of many families in America and the world today, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to know how to start with your family. By starting small and taking a few simple, painless steps, your family can be on its way to bigger and better environmental actions soon! It's a great way to turn your family Positively Green!

Welcome to Positively Green! It's a column dedicated to bringing you new ways of saving, interacting with, and using the natural world with activities that both help the environment and help you grow healthy families and healthy communities. Each month will feature information for your family about a positive green activity, book, program, or community idea. So c'mon, join the fun and go Positively Green!

Have an idea that you'd like to share with other families or a questions you'd like more information about? Contact Positively Green at Families Online Magazine and we'll work on your idea for a future column!

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