Going Green: Ideas for Kids
Kids Can Help Go Green, For Cheap
Going green can mean buying an electric car or using "green" cleaning products. The price tags associated with those purchases can be a bit rough at times, so knowing there are "cheap" ways for kids to help lessen our impact on the environment is pretty much a relief.
From electronics to water, I've got you covered.
Brita Water Filter
The filter is right in the pitcher and you can chill the water in your fridge. Score!
Reusable Water Bottles
Drinking water instead of soda, juice or milk in between meals is not only healthier, but if you're reusing your water bottle - it is also greener. A reusable water bottle can be bought for up to $50 (fancy filters) or it can be a plastic cup from the dollar store. The point is to use one thing, multiple times, instead of individually packaged bits of water.
If the taste of your tap water is a bit "off", you can buy a filter. Brita's popular. They've also got pitchers with filters so it can travel with you if you go on vacation. Also, cooling the tap water sometimes helps. In our house, the tap water tastes fine but my Mother still adds a bit of lemon when she comes to visit.
Cut Down On Shower Time
There are two ways you can head with this:
- Set a time limit for how long the water can run for a shower. (beginner)
- Get in the shower, get hair and body wet. Turn off shower. Lather up. Clean. Turn on shower, rinse. End of shower. (advanced)
Only you will be able to determine which method is best for your kids and household. If you're paying for your water consumption (or go over the monthly "included" amount), you will notice the savings within the first couple of months.
Walk to School
Instead of driving the kids to school, maybe it is possible to walk. I know this is not feasible for many people, and we don't even do it every day. When the weather is nice, I walk with the kids to school. It is under a mile away and there are sidewalks the whole way.
If walking isn't possible, they can ride the bus instead of being driven to school. Yes, the bus is a huge (probably) diesel machine, but if you think about it -- that is one machine running on fuel instead of the 30 or 40 individual cars that would otherwise be taking the same trek.
Carpooling is another option. Swap mornings with neighbors who are heading the same way, if you're friendly and trust them with your kids.
Scrape, Don't Rinse, The Dinner Plates
By scraping the remains from the dinner plates, each person can save a gallon or more of water every week -- especially if the method is used for multiple meals.
Rinsing plates is convenient because dishwater doesn't get as dirty as fast, but this doesn't have to stop you. With the possible savings from the decreased shower water amounts and rinsing water saved, you can buy a more expensive dish detergent. They really do a much better job of cutting the grease and allowing you to finish a load of dishes without needing to change the water.
Unplug Electronics Chargers
Unplugging the charging cord for the DS, iPod, cell phone or tablet really is a big deal. The small trickle of energy wasted is multiplied by every unused - but plugged in - electronics charger.
The best solution we have for this is to have a charger basket. If we didn't have the plastic basket, I'm sure my daughter would've lost a charger by now. Once the charger is unplugged, it goes in. The basket is near the bedrooms, in the hallway. It is always accessible and when it is used, it serves a great purpose.
Plus, if I notice a charger not being used but plugged in -- that is where I put it.
No More Paper Plates
It is pretty easy to grab a paper plate for a snack. When I was a teenager, I'd toss pizza rolls on a paper plate or a paper towel and heat them in the microwave. Easy peasy! Unfortunately, that plate came from a tree and another one may not have grown to take its place on the chopping block.
Use a glass plate. It is reusable and wasn't made from trees. It will be around for years. Yes, it will have to be washed, but if washed with a load of dishes, the slight impact will outweigh the cost of using a paper plate.
Got the "no paper plates" one down? That's the beginner's version. Fully ultra-advanced is:
- No more paper cups.
- No more Styrofoam cups.
- No more plastic utensils.
- No more fast food (their packaging is almost all paper).
The "no more fast food" is what made it ultra-advanced.
Turn Off The Electronics
Between all of the electronics kids have now...well, here's a small list:
- Cell phone
- Video game console
How many have you seen your kids try to use, all at the same time? I'll bet you can think of a time where at least 3 are being used - with 5 being almost normal at some times. Crazy, huh? Well, we become conditioned to a constant bombardment of stimulating information/music/interactions and learn how to keep adding more.
These habits use a lot of energy. Turning everything off for a couple of hours is a good idea - and not just when sleeping. IF you have to start small, try with having them make sure everything is unplugged (charger and all) and turned off at bedtime and it doesn't get turned on until after breakfast. It's a place to start. You might even be able to sneak up to an hour or two in the evening without unnecessary electronics. Some screen time is homework related so finding a good balance between acceptable use and excessive takes time.
Recycle At Home
Recycling is an educational and visible way to show how working towards "greener" ways does make an impact. Sort out cans, newspapers, plastics, and junk mail. Maybe your waste company provides bins; however, if they do not, check into local drop-off centers.
Being able to see the volume of the sorted goods give a concrete definition to what you're trying to accomplish. A tour of the recycling facility in your area may not be available, but there are videos showing the recycling process. While that previously-mentioned laptop is on for "homework", send them a link to a fast-paced video. Fast works better. Once it gets boring, they click away.
Read eBooks Instead of Traditional Books
Yes, the tablet or eReader also cost money to produce, package and ship - but they have the capability of lasting for years off that one "cost". Once a book has been read, the production of another book would have to take place to get another book. The production, packaging and shipping would have to happen for every single traditional book.
eReaders and tablets are coming down in price, justifying the cost if best-sellers are regularly purchased otherwise. Libraries even offer digital loans. If you have a metropolitan library not too far away, even if you live out of the district, check into a library card. There's usually a cost if you're out of the district but it is nominal compared to the availability of books.
p.s. Loan periods only last two weeks (usually), but if you don't have the eReader's WiFi on, it won't be returned until you decide to turn on the WiFi. If a child is a slower reader, just teach them that trick and they'll have all the time they need to finish. This is also a reason why a dedicated eReader is good, instead of also using a tablet as a reader. WiFi is usually enabled more often on tablets.
Re-home Old Clothes
Okay, intimates and socks can be tossed - but jeans, tops, dresses and shoes are perfect candidates for being "recycled" instead of tossed.
- Use for craft projects
- Take to a consignment shop
- Donate to Goodwill or another charity
- List on FreeCycle
- Sell on eBay
There are many ways to use old or too-small articles of clothing. A few involve money, others are charity or craft projects. There's a good chance that re-homing the clothes will free up space and also give a sense of accomplishment.
They're Easy Tips For Going Green
Decreasing our impact on the environment is an overwhelming idea. So many people, so many ways we are "screwing up" the Earth -- How is it possible to actually make a difference?
As you can see, it is easier than it first seems. Taking small steps in the beginning and making them a part of daily life is the best way for "green" living. As tasks are no longer a chore, find more ways to go green.
- Start a compost pile
- Replace old appliances with HE versions
- Replace old bulbs with the fancy-schmancy Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs (CFL)
It is possible. Small steps lead to bigger ones. Starting kids young will enable them to have healthy, green habits as adults without giving it too much thought.