The New Year is here and this is the time that many of us decide to make positive changes in our lives. No matter what shade of green you may be, the following list will hopefully give you some inspiration on how to make some eco-friendly changes for both your family and the environment:
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- Reduce: The less stuff you buy, the less stuff you have to throw out -- it's as simple as that. Check out The Story of Stuff.
- Reuse: Upcycle the things you would have normally thrown out. Glass jars, tin cans, and even old clothes can be given new life using these upcycled craft ideas.
- Recycle: If you don't already participate in your city's blue, black, and green bin programs, check out your city's website to find out how to get started.
- Make litter-less lunches: Instead of packing lunches and snacks in plastic bags, plastic wrap, and foil, purchase products that will make eating on the go litter-less.
- Use cloth diapers: Consider cloth diapers for your little one. Cloth diapers do have an upfront cost, but they will pay themselves off many times over.
- Use reusable bags: The hardest thing about using reusable bags is remembering to bring them with you!
- Buy smarter light bulbs: Switch out your regular light bulbs for compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. On average, CFLs use 80 per cent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs. When you are ready to dispose of them, be sure to do it properly.
- Use non-toxic cleaners - Switch out your toxic household cleaners to those that are safer.
- Buy better body care products: Switch your body care products -- lotions, shampoo, conditioner, makeup -- to safer natural and organic products. Not sure about ingredients or even where to start? Shop at a store that has done the research for you up front and don't be afraid to ask questions.
- Use less plastic: Purchase products that are plastic-free and have minimal packaging.
- Focus on experiences vs. things: Going forward, focus on providing memorable experiences for your children rather than buying them unmemorable things.
- Go meatless: Going meatless once a week is great, a few times a week, even better! A few of my favourite vegetarian and vegan food blogs are Oh She Glows, Manifest Vegan, and Veggie Belly.
- Conserve water: Turning the water off when you brush your teeth, and doing only full loads of laundry, are just two ways to cut down on water consumption. Here are 98 more.
- Do your laundry in cold water: It's a myth that hot water cleans clothes better. It's not a myth that hot water uses unnecessary energy. Going forward, use cold water, and the only difference you will notice is in your energy bill.
- Compost: This one may be a bit intimidating, but it's simpler than you may think. The results will provide you with rich dirt for your garden.
- Garden: If you have the space, plant a vegetable garden this spring. It's a great project to do with the kids, and in the end, the garden will produce healthy fruits and vegetables for your family to enjoy. Don't have the space for a garden? Try an indoor herb garden.
- Teach your kids about the environment: When we teach our kids about the importance of taking care of our earth, the actions and the knowledge will be carried with them all their lives. Use age-appropriate projects and crafts to make it interactive, interesting, and fun.
- Use a DivaCup: Ladies, I know. It's intimidating and a little scary, but once you start using the DivaCup each month, you'll wonder why it took you so long. Seriously.
- Choose online billing: Opt out of your paper bills and subscribe to e-billing.
- Buy local: Support your local economy and your local small business owners -- both online and brick and mortar. Shopping close to home vs. shopping at a big box store that brings their products in from overseas makes a difference when fuel, energy, and time are considered.
- Buy a stainless steel water bottle: Invest in a sturdy, good looking, stainless steel bottle, and ditch the plastic bottles for good.
- Unplug chargers and small appliances: Did you know that most of your chargers, electronics, and appliances still use energy even though they are not being used? Unplug anything that is not in use to avoid "leaking electricity."
- Meal plan: Making a meal plan each week usually leads to healthier choices and less mid-week gas guzzling runs to the store to pick up forgotten items.
- Dispose of your electronics properly: You can find e-waste bins at most electronic retailers. Also, check with your city to see if they hold e-waste drop-off days.
- Opt out of junk mail: By law, Canada Post must deliver all mail addressed to you, but to cut down on the unaddressed junk mail, simply place a sign on your mailbox that says "no junk mail." If you receive your mail in a community mailbox, secure a no junk mail note in your box, so the mail person can see it each time. See the Canada Post website for more info.
Click here for a quick tip on how to store your reusable bags.
Click here the learn how to build a garden with kids.
Click here for a downloadable meal-planning tool.
Do you have any green ideas to add? Are there any things in this list that you don't already do, but will start doing this year?
Written By: Gwen Leron, Yummy Mummy Club
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