Your Family Time Can Go Green With These Easy Swaps
By Ashley Crowe
Going green as a family doesn’t need to be intimidating. Little kids love to help out. And many big kids desire to create change. Choosing to adopt eco-friendly habits as a family is fun and surprisingly simple.
When your kids are young is the best time to start. Kids are resilient to change, and they may even correct you when you fall back to what’s easier.
Create positive habits now, and your kids are more likely to make green choices throughout their lifetime. Open their world to all that is possible by living sustainably. These ripples will just continue to grow. And your positive impact on the world will grow with them.
Plan With Your Kids
Be sure to talk with your kids about why you are making these changes. No matter how little, they understand so much. Focus on reconnecting with the natural world. Get outside. Let them explore. Explain how your new practices help the Earth. And that it is up to us, and all other people, to protect it.
Keep it light and positive. Relate it to their favorite things. Favorite animals, favorite places, or even favorite trees. And know that you’re creating the foundation for a lifelong love of nature.
When you work together as a family, you can accomplish so much. Even through the smallest of changes.
13 Ways to Go Green as a Family
Ready to make a change? Explore our list below and choose the best options for your family. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. This is about making long term changes, so take it slow. Create new habits. Enjoy exploring sustainability with your family. And feel great knowing that you’re making a difference. Not just now, but for generations to come.
Go on a Nature Walk
One of the best ways to start living a greener life is to reconnect with nature. Find your local parks and trails. Load up the kids and get outside. There is so much to explore.
While you are out at your local nature preserve, explore ways you can help. These organizations often need volunteers or extra funds to keep the natural world accessible for all families. Have fun, and learn along the way.
Participate in a Clean-Up Event
One of the best ways to reverse human impact on the natural world — sign up for a litter clean-up event. Many local groups organize these events. It can be a great way for even the littlest of kids to make an impact.
Support Local Wildlife
Want to make a difference in your own backyard? Try planting pollinator-friendly flowers. Or craft a bird feeder. These are great learning opportunities for both you and your child.
Talk to your children about what you see in your neighborhood. Identify birds, spot rabbits, and examine leaves. Building a stronger connection with nature doesn’t mean fancy trips or equipment. A curious mind is the only requirement.
Bike, Walk, or Scooter to Nearby Places
Running some errands? If your local grocery or drug store is close enough, try venturing out without the car. It’s a great way to get outside and exercise as a family. Even if you are just visiting a neighbor, exploring transportation alternatives is a great example to set for your child.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. If your destination is too far away, think about carpooling with friends. Or taking local public transport. The more often your child is exposed to these options, the more valid these choices become.
Eat and Drink Sustainably
Plant a Garden
One of the best ways to encourage your child to eat more vegetables — plant your own garden. Let your children dig in the dirt. Have them choose a few veggies to plant. Even better, give them a section of the garden that is just for them.
There is no better way to appreciate your food and all that the Earth provides than with your own garden. And there is so much to be learned. From composting to planting and watering, involve them in the whole process. And get the freshest, most local food possible. Yum!
Buy And Eat Food From Sustainable Sources
How far does your food travel to get to your plate? If you buy most of your produce and meat from a large grocery store then much of it has traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles.
Sometimes your grocery store is a necessary stop. Even then you can still check for local selections. And buy fish that has been sustainably sourced.
hen possible, try visiting your local farmer’s market. Or check online for farms within 100 miles of you that sell their meat or produce.
One of our favorite ways to buy locally while saving money is to purchase a quarter or half of a cow or pig from a local farm. If you have freezer space, this is an excellent way to support your local farming community. And you know exactly what you are putting in your body.
When in doubt, local and in-season is always best.
Buy Your Children Their Own Special Reusable Water Bottles
Are you still using plastic water bottles? This is one of the easiest swaps to make. And one that will excite your kids.
Is your kid into sharks? Robots? Unicorns or dinosaurs? No matter what your kid loves, you can find a water bottle they will be excited to carry. Sports style, insulated, or with a straw, there are so many to choose from. And your kids will love having something that is just for them.
Swap Out Single-Use Plastic
Swapping out single-use plastic is one of the best changes you can make. It may not seem like much, but if even just a tenth of the world’s population made this swap, the impact would be huge. So, what are all of the ways you can reduce your plastic waste?
- Swap out resealable plastic bags for reusable cloth bags or silicone food keepers.
- Keep reusable grocery sacks handy for trips to the store or farmer’s market.
- Carry your own set of utensils in a cloth napkin for eating on the go.
- Use paper straws or your own stainless steel straw in lieu of plastic.
- Reuse plastic sacks instead of throwing them away.
What is the best way you’ve found to reduce plastic use in your home?
Explore and Learn Eco-friendly Options
There’s a lot more to recycling than throwing cardboard and plastic in the recycling bin. Take some time with your child to really explore how recycling works. What is the process? How long does it take? Is it better to reuse some items instead of recycling them?
Sharing both the why and the how will keep a kid engaged and learning. And make the practice easier to keep up.
Explore Alternative Energy Sources
Do you know how solar works? How is energy collected from wind turbines? If your child is interested, study alternative energy sources with them. You don’t need fancy textbooks. A quick Youtube search is a great way to learn the ins and outs of solar power.
If your kid really wants to explore deeper, look for a kit to build your own solar battery. Or create a model of a dam to explore hydro energy. The more that your child is exposed to sources of renewable energy, the more likely they’re to view it as a viable option.
Support Sustainable Businesses in Your Community
If you live near businesses supporting eco-friendly efforts, help them out. It’s important to let businesses know that green practices sway your and your family’s purchases.
Make sure where you spend your money reflects your values. And teach your kids to do the same. It takes people supporting these efforts to make them more commonplace. Supporting businesses focused on sustainability is a small action but carries a big impact.
Create a Greener Home
Buy Eco-Friendly Bath And Cleaning Products
Thanks to people like you, eco-friendly bath and cleaning products are now incredibly easy to find. They’re even in your local big box store. If you haven’t already made the switch, do a little research and try a plant-based bath or cleaning product.
Some swaps to explore:
- Laundry detergent
- Body wash and shampoo
- Glass cleaner
- Air fresheners
- Hand soap
Look for plant-based products using essential oils to create those fresh, clean smells. Or choose no scent at all. And don’t worry— many of the green bath products still make an epic bubble bath.
Buy Sustainable Toys
Do you love plastic toys? Yeah, neither does our planet. Loud and battery fueled, plastic toys are the bane of my existence. But your kids need entertainment. And less screentime.
The answer— buy more wooden toys. Some of your favorite wooden toy brands support sustainability efforts. And wooden toys offer a variety of creative, open-ended play. Help foster your child’s imagination with greener toy choices.
Create a Better Future with Greener Choices Today
What is going to be your family’s first step towards a greener lifestyle? What eco-friendly practices are you already doing that didn’t make our list? We would love to hear from you and your kids about all of the ways that you are improving our planet.
Would your kids love to learn more about protecting our planet’s one ocean? You can read all about Blue Schools, Ocean Blue Project’s K12 curriculum, here. Thank you for continuing to learn and grow as a family. And for making our world a better place!
Author Bio: Ashley Crowe is a homeschooling mom to three little boys, ages six and under. When she has enough time and coffee, she writes.