|An Anthropologie Earth Day display.|
Several years back, when my youngest was in kindergarten, a friend was the home and school club president and asked me to help start a Green Team at our school. I had no idea what I was doing, but I liked the chance to educate my kids about being more green- and why it mattered. The team has grown the years and has a lot of wonderful leaders and is still going strong. I highly recommend doing this at your child’s school if you can!
We’ve done Earth Day fairs, costume swaps, planted gardens and even art contests using recycled items. The biggest impact though was getting recycling and this year composting of lunch waste. Lot’s of red tape to get this going, but after years of persistence, it’s working and the students are so good about doing this. I’m proud of all the caring elementary kids! The events were terrific community builders and brought out so many super parents, local businesses and got kids excited about being, ‘green.’
I just have a few pet peeves… One is families who are less than a block away from our school who daily pile their kids into an SUV to drive to school each morning instead of walking. Then there are the moms in the car pick-up line in their huge cars with the motor running for 20+ minutes while they wait for their child to get out of school. I’m guessing these are the same folks with a 48 pack of water bottles in the back of the car and nary a reusable shopping bag.. And some families do not even make use of their recycle bins at all. Okay, I’m done ranting.
Here’s a few things we try to do in our house. I say try! We aren’t perfect, but it’s a start. If we all did a little more, it adds up.
– Reusable shopping bags! I love having cute ones. My favorites are from travels like The Jane Austen Center in Bath and Harrods. My friend Kim brought me one back from a grocer in France. Assert your style while shopping and it’s one less tree or plastic item used on the planet! (I’m sorry I don’t buy the argument that they are unclean. You can always use your washer or wipe them out.)
(While we are on this, you do know that plastic bags are bad because plastic is a nonrenewable and petroleum derived product that takes very long to break down? When it does the tiny particles contaminate the soil and water system and ultimately end up in our food chain. Always choose paper if you are without a bag. It’s can be reused at least and recycled.)
– I never take a store shopping bag in the mall if I can help it. A fancy bag for my mascara ? Really? You can throw it in your purse. Another reason to always have a tote bag like Europeans carry. It’s your purse as well as your shopping bag.
|Feed bags are one of my favorite totes.|
–Bike and walk whenever you can. Weekdays can be crazy at out house, but on weekends we try to make at least one bike trip to the grocery store. My husband has a backpack and I have a wicker bike basket to carry things. The kids go too and can lug things. It’s fun and you feel so good doing this!
|A grocery run.|
–Kids bike, scooter or walk to school when they can.
|Getting ready to walk to school with his rain coat. 🙂|
– If you make lunches for yourself or your kids, invest in reusable containers. You’ll save money and prevent plastic baggies from ending up in the water system. If you have to have baggies on hand choose paper waxed ones like we grew up with. Much less toxic to the Earth.
– Buy reuseable water bottles! Buy them for the family. We have loads. I try never to resort to individual plastic bottles, only when we are desperate. A plastic water bottle emits toxic chemicals being made and once produced is here to stay. The average bottle does not biodegrade and can be here 400+ years. They can be recycled, but 90% end up in landfills. What is shocking is the fact that each year the oil used to produce these bottles could fuel one million cars! We need to phase these out, but when you see folks leaving Costco with flats of these bottles the message is still not getting through or people don’t care.
-Another thing that we can all try is consuming less and using things already on this planet. Did you know that the clothing industry is one of the most polluting in world, second only to oil in terms of toxic chemicals and pollution of water? Yet how often do we think of that when we buy a new shirt? Almost never I bet. By buying recycled goods we are lessening the impact of these industries on the planet.
–First and foremost, buy less. Growing up in the 1970s, we bought clothes when school started and when Summer came. Oh how things have changed. What happened to us? We Americans are use shopping as a pastime and hobby. We go to the mall to entertain ourselves and buy new clothes almost all the time. It helps to take stock of your closets and purge what you don’t wear, keep the best and have less. If you know what is exactly in your closet, you won’t be tempted to shop all the time. When you add something it should be something you need or really love. It’s worth buying quality too as it’s more likely the items are made ethically. That five buck T-shirt may be so cheap because of child labor or poor working conditions and practices. It’s not a bargain if it’s bad for the planet.
-Another alternative, if you have to shop, is to check out vintage, resale or thrift stores. We have great one locally called Crossroads Trading Company. You can sell back your clothing and you can buy clothes here barely worn for very little. I love how this place merchandises by color and designers. I love how you can get an Anthropologie sweater here with the tags still on for $7. If you can find the right vintage or trading store you will become a convert.
–Start a garden. Even if it’s a small patch of lettuce or herbs in a container. You will love growing your own food. Organic food is good for the Earth and for your body. Did you know recent studies have proven that a year on an organic vegetable and fruits can actually eliminate heavy toxins and chemicals that have been stored in the body? Another great reason to eat organic. Also, the more we buy organic, the less it will cost to us all.
I never have thought of myself as a green kind of person. However, I later realized that I had been living green in many ways just from how I was brought up. We always had a garden thanks to my father. I had green beans strung over my windows in the Summers, (My window looked over the garden and I still love the smell of wet dirt.) Our dad had a greenhouse complete with a compost bin filled with worms. As a kid, it was kind of fun. We grew up eating vegetables and anything that my dad grew. We even had chickens and got fresh eggs. Having a grandmother who grew up in the depression we learned not to throw things out and that most anything could be repurposed in another way.
What started as one generations way to be smart with money became another generations way of doing the right thing for the earth I guess. So if you look at the past, I think you could say our grandparents’ and parents were a lot more greener.
If you have children, these are values like any other that need to be taught. You can’t have caring and thoughtful kids who don’t give a whit about the planet.
No one should stress about these things, but we make decisions each day that together can change the world. I truly believe that.
Let’s do it! I’d love to hear more green ideas from you all.
Thanks for reading and I hope you don’t mind me sharing something I’m passionate about.
Have a good weekend!