Our family is becoming more aware of the impact that we have on our environment. We can’t help but hear the stories of the damage that we are inflicting on our world. Global warming, climate change, oceans filled with plastic and overflowing landfills are making headlines everywhere. The truth is we have to make some changes. We are starting to leave permanent scars on the earth and it’s not acceptable. We are not naturally a very environmentally savvy family, but it’s important to us that we learn ways to be better. So we’ve started researching ways that we can make a positive impact and it turns out it’s not that hard.
Go paperless: There are so many ways that you can reduce the amount of paper that comes into your home and ends up in the trash. Sign up to receive all of your bills online and use online banking to pay them. Opt out of mailers and junk mail. Use online notes wherever possible. My husband and I use an app to track all of our family lists and notes. There are tons of apps available, we love Wunderlist and use it for grocery lists, Christmas lists and notes to remind us of tasks we need to complete. I also love it because I can create personal lists for myself as well as a shared family list and I’m notified any time my husband adds or removes something.
Reduce single use plastic: Reducing single use plastic can be both small and huge. If you are honest about all the plastic that comes into your house you will see just how damaging it is to our environment. Removing plastic straws from your life is just the beginning. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store, avoid packing your fruits and vegetables in those flimsy plastic bags in the grocery aisle, pack your leftovers in reusable containers or environmentally friendly wrapping such as Abeego beeswax wrap.
Bring your own water bottle: Yes this goes along with reducing our single use plastic but this one is so important to me that I feel like it deserves its own category. Our bodies need lots of water everyday. There really is no need to buy plastic water bottles. There are water refill stations everywhere. Bring reusable water bottles wherever you go and label them so that you don’t lose them. I’m a fan of the Swell bottles but we also love Kleen Kanteen for our family. This is such an easy change to move into your family routine. Stop buying plastic water bottles!
Shop in bulk: Any way that you can reduce the amount of waste that comes into your home will help. Invest in great containers and go find your favourite bulk food store. Items such as cereal, coffee, flour , oatmeal and sugar are so easy to buy in bulk. Zero waste grocery stores are popping up everywhere where you can even purchase your shampoos and soaps in bulk. It may require a change in how you shop but once you commit and become used to it, it will become a new way of life.
Buy and Shop used: Kids outgrow things in the blink of an eye; clothes, shoes, sports equipments, even toys. Don’t just toss your unwanted stuff in the garbage so that it can sit in a landfill. Sell your unwanted and outgrown items to others. There are so many places to sell your items; consignment stores, social media or websites such as Varagesale can help offload some of your items. They are also great spots to buy new items. One of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow is my local Style Encore. It’s a consignment store for adults that sells clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery. Every day they post photos of some of their greatest outfits and I’ve bought designer duds that are new with tags for super cheap. I’m getting a deal and keeping it out of the landfill.
Buy local: The less amount of time your products spend travelling to you, the better for the environment. Shop at local farmers markets and homegrown boutiques. My city has wonderful local options; everything from bakeries, to clothing stores, to local cheese shops. I love supporting local small businesses and knowing that I’m shopping sustainably.
Plant a garden: What is more local than your own backyard? Plant a garden with your family and grow some of your own food. Tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries and herbs are all easy things that you can grow in your own backyard. Pick your own food and eliminate how many trips you take to the grocery store.
Reduce meat/dairy intake: This one can be difficult for meat eaters, like my husband. We are starting slow by removing meat from one meal a week. Health reasons forced us to remove dairy but we made a decision to reduce our meat intake because we know that it’s not only better for our health but it’s also better for the environment. According to the Greenpeace website, “The livestock sector — raising cows, pigs and chickens — generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined. Cattle ranchers have clear cut millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural 'carbon sinks'." If going completely vegetarian or vegan is not your cup of tea, that’s okay. Simply reducing your intake can make a huge impact.
Get outside: Introduce your kids to the great outdoors. Help them gain an appreciation for nature and a respect for their environment. Take them hiking, explore local lakes, find safe ponds to skate on in the winter and sunny beaches to swim in during the summer months. Teaching your kids to love the outdoors will help them want to preserve their environment, plus it pushes them be physically active and therefore reduces their amount of screen time.
When you hear the news about climate change and the scary ways our environment is being damaged it can be so overwhelming. Sometimes it feels so big that it seems like there is no way you can make a difference, but by making small changes together as a family, you CAN.