50 Shades of Green

Earth DayDid you know that today, April 22nd is Earth Day? Of course you did! I on the other hand only know its Earth Day because it’s my daughter’s 8th birthday, not because I live such a green, earth-friendly life. With all the reminders to recycle, reuse, Go Green, reduce our carbon footprint, we can easily get down on ourselves for not doing more to help the environment. But that’s the beauty of life — there are many shades of going green and my challenge to you on this Earth Day is to go one shade deeper. Think about what you and your family currently do to help the environment, and take it a step further. There’s always room for improvement.

I was surprised to learn that Earth Day has been in effect since 1970, and it’s now recognized in 192 countries. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I certainly didn’t recycle and even if I’d heard the word recycle, I would have thought it was some sort of new bicycle. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way in the world of recycling, and I believe it has a lot to do with my kids. When else in life do you go through thousands of zip lock bags? Or worse, use paper plates for eight years because you’re an exhausted parent? That would be my household and only if it’s a special occasion do we pull out the everyday china or maybe just the high-end plastic plates!

But as the saying goes, it’s never too late to change! Our Earth is 4.54 billion years old and it’s time that my family stepped up our game to take better care of it. It’s amazing what I discovered about my family’s earth-friendly actions, or lack there of, as I began to write this post for the Tampa Bay Moms Blog. I noticed we do great in some areas like faithfully filling our 96-gallon recycling bin with paper, plastics and aluminum. And we’re not doing so great in other areas like plowing through hundreds of zip lock sandwich bags and tossing out hundreds of paper plates per week. But thankfully these are easy to fix! I’ve started to use what was left of my reusable sandwich bags, or the ones the kids hadn’t lost, and bought more reusable sandwich bags, and I’ve started reusing our paper plates – only the clean ones. I’m not giving up that sanity saver just yet! I’ve also created a craft bin for the kids to use with things I’d normally recycle or throw away i.e. toilet paper rolls, bottle tops, string and paper clips. And I’ve reminded my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room, and turn off the water while brushing their teeth. These are just a few simple areas where my family can go one shade greener this Earth Day.

How about you? What is your family currently doing to help the environment, and what would you like to do more of? When I asked my mom friends this question, I was impressed with all the things they’re doing as a family, but almost everyone commented they could do more. It’s a noble thing to want to do more for our environment, but don’t feel guilty about it! As moms we do the best we can to take care of our family, and if we can take care of the Earth while doing that huge task – great!

This Earth Day, don’t feel guilty about what you don’t do, but celebrate with your kids what you are doing to make a difference!  Here’s a running list of ideas from other moms, plus a web site list of 50 ways to help. Please share your own ways of going green in the comment box below. Let’s help each other go one shade greener this Earth Day!

  • Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
  • Reuse clean aluminum foil or rinse out zip lock bags
  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Reusable sandwich bags
  • Wear clothes more than once (must teach my kids this!)
  • Pass on your clothes to a charity or friends and wear hand-me-down clothes
  • Dry clothes on drying rack
  • Use one drinking cup per day (my kids go through three cups a day!)
  • Plant a vegetable garden or your own herbs
  • Use reclaimed rain water to water the lawn or unused water in water bottles to water the indoor plants
  • Unplug appliances or electronics
  • Eat less packaged foods
  • Walk where you can or ride your bike
  • Carpool or take mass transit
  • Pick earth-friendly cleaning products
  • Use the eco friendly lightbulbs for lamps and LED for overhead lights
  • Make a compost bin at home
  • Make a worm bin, create a butterfly/bee habitat or even a bat house (you go Michelle!)
  • Make a craft bin with recyclable items
  • Reuse paper for coloring
  • Use the kids artwork as gift wrapping paper
  • Use energy efficient appliances
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth
  • Take just one napkin
  • Teach kids not to litter and pick up their trash
  • If you’re traveling and they don’t have a recycling bin, bring it home with you to recycle
  • Recycle old electronics and batteries
  • Use the clear bags your newspaper comes in for other purposes i.e. car trash bags or dog waste bags

What ways do YOU “Go Green” in your family? Share them in the comments below!

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