Earth Day is one of those days, celebrated once a year, that really we can embrace every single day. I have said it before, and I will say it again: I never intended to be a green mother.
It turns out at as time goes on that it really is easier and easier to make small and lasting life-style changes that really do make a difference. For instance, a couple of years ago recycling was awkward and involved a lot of schlepping around… but now the recycle truck comes on garbage days and it is really easy to recycle.
Se7en + 1 Easy Things You Can Do to Save the Earth…
- Replace Outings to the Mall with Adventures into the Great Outdoors. It is so easy to have a few errands at the mall become an entire morning of rumbling around the shops. We have found that the more outdoors we are the greener we want to be and a trip to the shops is the last thing we want to do as a family on a Saturday afternoon. We have replaced almost all mall shopping with outdoor ambles. If we claim we want to be green and preserve our wonderful world, then we need to get out there and enjoy it too.
- Question Accepted Norms: Since our tour of the grocery store last year, to see how green our grocery store was, we question every single bit of extra packaging. I have always had a thing about extra packaging and just the plain wastage of it all… well there is a green reason to avoid packaging and the more we question it or choose less packaged products the better.
- Use What You Have: It is so tempting to buy new art materials… new paints for a new school year. Those days are really over. I really just stopped buying “just in case” art materials, and only replacing materials when they are actually finished. Well our kids have embraced the recycling bag and almost all their creations emerge from within the hallowed ground of the tossed out junk. I know there is nothing as inspiring as a new art materials but I have found that by changing the packaging from time to time and even small changes like moving the coloured pencils from a box to a tin, can be just as inspiring. Here is a round-up of our outdoor and recycled art projects.
- Get Gardening: Even if you don’t have green fingers, even if you don’t plant fields of vegetables to feed your family, just get planting. It is fun and our whole family enjoys looking forward to seeing new shoots shooting and spotting fruit on the fruit tree. you don’t need acres to create a salad garden, pots are fab and even a small corner of garden can produce enormous amounts of salad greens. Our garden has been pretty much out of commission since it was invaded by baboons. But it is time to reclaim our land. If nothing else, plant a tree.
- Just Stop Driving: Gasp… you don’t actually need a huge car. For the last five years we used or car less and less as our car got more and more fragile. Eventually it collapsed at the side of the road, honestly we haven’t looked back. The father person has a small car that he uses to get to the city for work, and occasionally when someone needs to go somewhere slightly further afield than walking distance. You would be surprised how many places you can actually just walk. You would be surprised how many errands you don’t actually need to run, when you have to walk a mile or two. Occasionally we have to go further a field, occasionally we catch a train… it is fun, it takes all day and I wouldn’t recommend it if you were trying to get anywhere with a sense of urgency. But for day to day living… just leave the car behind, you will feel better for it. We are a lll certainly feeling healthier for an evening amble.
- Visit a farm that practices green farming techniques: I don’t recommend that you visit any other kind, you may never want to eat anything again. I can tell you that visiting an organic farm changed our view of farming practices and how selective we were about a lot of the food we choose to eat.
- Ditch Unnecessary Appliances: While some appliances are so useful we cannot imagine life without them… I for one never ever want to go without a washing machine, but it was really quite easy to give up on the tumble dryer… a couple of years ago we just stopped using it, unless we were absolutely desperate… and desperate became never and we sold it. Yes we have racks of drying clothes around the house during winter… but that’s winter. Similarly we had a chest freezer, way back in the days of two or three kids… but to be honest, when there are ten of you there is not much point in cooking ahead and cooking double is pretty much impossible – who has pots and pans big enough for twenty. We got rid of the freezer and never noticed it’s moving on…
- Create a Green Project with your Kids and their Friends: Don’t be afraid that they won’t embrace it… the kids that think they don’t want to get involved are often the ones crying out, “When can we do that again?” at the end of the project. Big projects like cleaning up a natural area are fantastic… but even small projects at home you will find your kids will embrace them, especially in the name of saving the planet. Make one child responsible for always taking the shopping bags from home and we have a child on recycle duty… they are always on the hunt for things to pop into the recycling bin. Assign your kids a green task – they will love being ambassadors of the earth.
And the se7en + 1th…
After shooting this video with our kids, a couple of months back, I realised that a lot of the lifestyle choices that we made with them were simply that, lifestyle choices. And to be honest our kids were none the wiser as to why some of their choices were green or not, I would really like to enable them to make informed green living decisions. So I have been working at strewing information around the house for my kids to absorb and discover and really to learn about green practices in general. Last week’s library haul included a couple of fabulous green books for kids:
This book is written for younger kids and it is fabulous, packed with lovely photography, bright blocks of writing filled with easy reading facts and tips. A section on recycling, saving water, saving energy and the bonus: a whole section of arty activities with materials from the recycling bin. This book was perfect for reading a couple of pages at a time to my younger kids and easy enough for a beginner reader to glean a couple of tips for themselves.
This book is aimed at middle schoolers and it is a great read, I learnt a lot from it. It is packed with facts and things to do. It isn’t just about local and household greening… this book has sections about greenhouse gases and pollution, fair trade and packaging. There is a lot of discussion about the problems and plenty of ideas that folk reading the book could implement themselves. And what makes this book a winner: Their is a green diary at the back filled with green things to do and alternatives for not so green things to do. Rather walk than taking a car, rather take a quick shower than a deep bath and so on. It is a lovely bright and interesting book to read, filled with photographs and interesting blocks of information to dip in to.
And then a book for teens absolutely jam packed with tips and quizzes, alternative ideas for our bad habits. This is the ultimate go to for quick info in anything green: garbage, fuel, energy and so on… and it includes a time line of change. As well as a really valuable couple of pages at the back packed with useful organisations contact details and dozens of useful links to green websites all over the world.