10 Tips For A Greener Household
Written by LIZ KERINS PACHECO & Sara Langer
Photography by Cheri Messerli and Anouk Photographed by Michelle Drewes
There are thousands of conveniences in this world that make our lives so much easier, but many of them aren’t so great for the environment. Before we became moms, indulging in such conveniences—like a daily iced coffee in a plastic to-go cup—inspired a bit of guilt, but we weren’t losing sleep over the cause. Now that we’re teaching and molding sweet little people into what we hope will become mindful, kind adults, we know that leading by example is super important.
Chances are you’re also more aware of the products you’re using around your home and looking to eliminate things that may be toxic or harmful to your little ones (and yourself, too). Here are some tips on how you can set an example of caring for the environment while getting your children involved, saving a few bucks, and stocking your home with safer and healthier products.
Recycle your child’s old toys and clothes: Set aside a day every few months to go through toys and clothes that no longer fit and aren’t being played with. Make sure your kiddos are a part of the process, empowering them to make choices that can sometimes be difficult. You can donate those items to an organization like the Salvation Army, a used children’s store, or hand them down to friends with younger children. You’ll teach your kids about giving back and make room in your closets while you’re at it.
Use cloth napkins at dinnertime: Sure, it’s a bit more laundry, but it will make every meal feel like a fancy affair. Bonus: Get your littles to set the table and teach them to fold the napkins after you’ve put them through the wash. It’s amazing how exciting folding rectangles of fabric can be for a toddler or preschool-aged child.
Buy from the bulk bins: A lot of grocery stores will let you bring your own containers, such as glass jars, to fill with items from the bulk section. Make sure you weigh the container when it’s empty and label the jar with the weight on a piece of masking tape on the bottom. This way the grocery clerk can deduct the weight of the container before weighing your food. Your kids will love getting to help you fill the containers and you’ll most likely spend less money per ounce than you would on your pre-packaged favorites.
Make your own deodorant, lip balms, and lotions/oils: We have a friend who swears making her own deodorant eliminated her and her husband’s stinky pits! This is an especially good tip for breastfeeding moms who don’t want that chemical residue near baby’s face. You can browse Pinterest for different recipes. Making your own lip balms, lotions, or oils will assure that you aren’t kissing or touching your children with chemical-filled products, too. This is another great way to save a few bucks. Cha-ching!
Turn off technology: Turn off your computers, phones, and tablets at the end of the day and leave them away from your bedrooms. Cuddle up with a library book instead! The whole family will sleep better and you’ll save a few dollars on electricity/charging time.
Ditch the store-bought baby food pouches: Blend your own mixes, then funnel them into reusable containers. You don’t need a special machine to make the baby food. A blender or food processor will work just fine. You can make smoothies that you like to share with your little one. That way you only have to use the blender one time, but you can feed both of you. This means less dishes, too! Saving you a little time and water.
Plant a veggie or herb garden: Your children can help you pick out seeds or seedlings based on foods or flavors they enjoy. Plant them in your yard or window sill. They’ll love getting their hands dirty planting and you get to watch their amazement as the sprouts start to grow. They can be in charge of picking or cutting when it comes time to use the ingredients you grew in a meal.
Leave the car at home: Chances are some of the staple places you visit, whether it’s the grocery store, park, or your favorite kid-friendly eatery, are within a few miles or less of your home. Load everyone up in a cargo bike, get a child seat to attach to your bike, or get your kiddos excited about pedaling on their own, whenever the weather and time permits. Scooters or good old-fashioned feet work great, too. You’ll save money on gas while squeezing in some exercise as well.
Stock up on white distilled vinegar: No joke, there are thousands of ways you can use vinegar around the house. From cooking and cleaning to pet care and personal health, white vinegar knows no bounds. It’s super cheap, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. A quick Google search yields endless results on ways to use up an big ol’ jug. There are even suggestions on how to mask or eliminate the smell if that’s something you can’t get down with.
Host a clothing swap: Invite your girlfriends over for a kid-free evening of shopping (and maybe some cocktails), but you can all leave your wallets at home. As they say, one woman’s trash is another one’s treasure. That dress you used to love but no longer wear may look great on a friend. You can clean out your closet and come home with a few new-to-you items. Whatever clothes are not taken or swapped can be donated. If finding a babysitter proves to be too stressful, then you can include the kiddos. Have them pick out some clothes or toys to contribute and allow them to choose one or two new-to-them things to bring home.
Have more green family tips to share? Please let us know in the comments below!
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