The new year is a time for change, of course, and marks the perfect opportunity to start leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle. As with beginning a new exercise program or a healthier diet, taking baby steps is the best way to incorporate "green" practices into your daily routine and to continue doing them throughout the year. Here are some small but effective resolutions for you and your family:
Make going green a family collaboration. A supportive unit is one of the main keys to succeeding. Discuss with your family the importance of becoming environmentally friendly, and figure out ways each adult and child can contribute to the effort. Make it a family challenge and decide on ways of rewarding your progress.
Fill up those recycling bins and remember to put them out next to the trash. Even young children can participate in sorting recyclables if you put colorful pictures of the items on the appropriate bins. When the recycling truck drives by your house, point it out to your kids. You might even visit a recycling plant to show them where the recyclables are going and how the trash is reused.
Have older children put away or hang up their clothes after laundering. Unworn, clean clothes left on the floor or piled onto furniture (ready to topple over onto the floor) are more likely to needlessly end up in the wash. Rewashing clean clothes wastes both water and energy. So keeping their clean clothes put away will help save the environment AND keep their room clean.
Turn off electronics and entertainment consoles — including TVs, DVD players, stereos, video game consoles, coffee makers, and computers — when you're not planning to use them. Leaving them on consumes more energy than you might think. Try connecting electronics to power strips and at the end of the day you can easily cut the juice with a flip of one switch.
Kick the disposable water bottle habit. The bottles are bad for the environment, and the water they contain may be less pure and healthful than what comes out of your faucet. Instead, switch to stainless steel bottles filled with water from home, whether it's filtered or tap.
Shop with reusable bags. It's easy to do, and affordable, too.
Once you're at a place where some of these practices have become routine (that may be in 3 months, 6 months, maybe 12 months) it could be time to delve deeper. You may want to take a look at your appliances. Are any more than decade old? Are you able to invest in more energy efficient appliances? Old refrigerators and freezers, washers and dryers suck up electricity and leave you with much higher utility bills than you ought to be paying.
Remember, as parents we lead by example, so follow your heart and your gut to do the green thing.