Becoming an Eco-Friendly Family – Part 1

Spring has finally arrived (and seems to be sticking around!), the outdoor Farmers’ Market begins this Saturday, and Earth Day is only a few weeks away, so it seems like the perfect time to start our eco-friendly family series!

When we first started discussing our eco-friendly posts, I (Kat) was really excited about the possibilities! But the longer we talked, the more I started to realize how little my own family does in terms of going green. Talk of composting and vegetable gardens and solar paneling inspired me to take a look at what I could change in my own home.

I started by reading articles and books about becoming an “Eco-Friendly Family.” The most important thing I learned from all my reading is that my family is doing a lot of eco-friendly things already!

In this first post, I’ll sharing some easy ways for your family to go green, and over the next few weeks Tiffany and Carousel will share with you the awesome eco-friendly steps their own families have taken! (Here’s a hint: Tiffany received a call from the post office last week telling her that her mail was chirping!) We’ll include helpful links along the way, and stay tuned for a post about local Earth Day events happening next week!

Easy Ways To Go Green (that you’re probably doing already):

1. Use a clothesline to dry your clothes. Letting the sun dry your clothes is a great way to conserve energy, and it’s even possible to hang-dry your clothes indoors as well. Our backyard doesn’t have space for an actual clothes line, so we improvised by tying a piece of string from our fence to a big tree in the middle of the yard. As much as I dislike doing laundry, I found a lot of joy every time I hung Milena’s colorful cloth diapers on the line!

2. Turn off lights, water, appliances when not in use. I’m great at not letting the water run, and pretty good at turning off lights if I’m not in the room, but I admit to keeping the computer on throughout the day and leaving phone and camera chargers plugged in even after the batteries are full. That’s definitely something of which we need to be aware.

3. Recycle and Pre-cycle. Most of us probably already recycle (though, I admit that often I’m inattentive and throw away something recyclable – causing Jess to dig through the garbage after it). I didn’t even consider pre-cycling before I had a toddler, but Milena’s love of crafts has given me a new perspective on empty egg cartons and toilet paper rolls!

4. Love Reusable Bags. We have at least a dozen reusable bags scattered throughout our home. They’re available for purchase at almost every store! And yet, we rarely use them. It’s not until we’ve actually stepped foot inside the store that we remember them – and I’m sure my family is not alone! Does anyone have a good system for remembering to bring your bags into the store with you?

Tiffany inspired me to find other uses for reusable bags when she wrapped Milena’s baby present in them! (It definitely reminds me of when my grandparents used to wrap our presents in their Sunday comics!) Since then we’ve also used reusable bags to “wrap” presents, pack food on trips, and carry our gear to the swimming pool.

5. Garden or Buy Locally-Grown Food. We’re planning to start a small garden in our backyard this year (we already have some lovely raspberry bushes!), but we also love buying fresh produce at the outdoor Farmers’ Market! Many people also belong to CSAs or have a plot in one of Madison’s many community gardens.

There are, of course, numerous other steps your family can take to become eco-friendly. This is a great beginning, however, and a nice reminder that you don’t necessarily have to bike everywhere and drink rainwater and grow all of your own food in order to consider your family “green.”

We’d love to hear what steps your family has taken to become more eco-friendly! And please share links to any local resources you’ve found useful.

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