There is beauty in life’s simplicity. Lying in the grass and looking at the clouds can bring such pleasure. And yet we often find it difficult to attend to the preservation of the natural world we and our children so enjoy. Sustainable living doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Being environmentally conscious just means making daily decisions that can help our planet thrive. The good news is that living sustainably can be simplified to suit your family’s routines and you often don’t have to make major changes to your current lifestyle.
What does it mean to live a Sustainable Lifestyle?
Living a sustainable lifestyle means developing habits or living your life in a manner that preserves the environment. This may be what a lot of people hope for, but many of us do not know where to start.
Research shows that families that implement sustainable living enjoy many benefits. They often enjoy a more social lifestyle, aside from their main goal of preserving the environment. So, give it a try. Read on to learn more about green living tips that can work for you and your whole family.
Green living tips for families
Whether your childhood was lived on a farm, in a suburb, or a big city, you most likely loved spending lots of time outside playing, getting dirty and just being happy in nature. Going green may seem impossible for an entire family but getting everyone on board makes it so much easier. Here are some valuable tips.
- Get everyone on board through communication – While even one person making the decision to go green matters, having the whole family involved is better! Clear communication is particularly important for kids. Let them know why sustainable living is important and how you are going to do it as a family. These are lessons that they will carry into the rest of their lives.
- Conserve your energy – Most of the energy used in our homes comes from fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are not good for our environment and are not sustainable either. This means that the environment will benefit when you use less energy. Simple things like using LED lightbulbs or turning off electronics when not in use will reduce consumption. You can make turning out the lights a goal-oriented game for kids. Notice when they contribute to reducing energy consumption.
- Reduce your family’s carbon footprint – We all love the convenience that vehicles provide. But vehicle emissions are some of the most harmful contributors to climate change. Walking or biking is a great way of reducing this damage plus it has so many other benefits – good health and an opportunity to bond. Use the car only when necessary, and if carpooling is an option, do it. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint and saving some of your precious time.
- Conserve water – Depending on where you live, water conservation may have a direct positive impact on fish and wildlife near you. So, making water conservation a part of your family’s routine is a good idea. Turn the water off while washing utensils or brushing teeth. Spend less time in the shower or shower less frequently. Learn about your local environment and talk to your kids about how water conservation supports animals they may have read about in story books.
- Upgrade your lights to conserve electricity – Upgrading the lights in your home to LED is the first step when conserving electricity. LED lights consume less energy and are environmentally friendly. Use natural light as much as possible. If you can manage to get an alternative source of energy like solar, that’s the best choice.
How can a family become greener?
A family can become more eco-conscious by taking small daily steps. Changing your daily routines may seem overwhelming at first but it’s good to remember that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.
When you’re shopping for your family, you can make one or two changes at a time. For example, you might decide to stop purchasing single-serving apple sauce cups and instead buy a larger glass jar of apple sauce and serve it in reusable lunch containers. That can be your change for the month. Once that routine seems simple to you, make another small change. Remember this is a lifestyle. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Make the changes in reasonable bits that are understood and appreciated by all family members.
If you are able, grow some of the food you eat. Not only is growing a family garden a great way to live a sustainable lifestyle, it’s also great fun especially for the kids. Understanding how food grows is key to developing a green mindset. Consider taking the family on an outing to a nearby organic farm. Many of these small farms are open to the public and offer family activities like apple picking, or goat milking!
How can families live more sustainably?
The three Rs can be an easy way to always remind yourself and your children about living a sustainable lifestyle. These are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These activities form the basis of a green lifestyle and sustainable living.
- Reducing the amount of waste created by your family is so important. This may mean you do not buy single-use plastics and make sure there is little, or no food wasted.
- Reusing or repurposing an item means you can get additional value out of it. Buying secondhand gives an item a second life and keeps it out of the waste stream – especially important for toys as they make up millions of tons of the trash that ends up in landfills each year.
- Let all the family members know the importance of recycling and what can be recycled. The ideas are endless here, depending on what each family uses in their daily lives.
How do you live a green lifestyle with kids?
- Shopping for your kids secondhand – Thrift stores make it easy to get secondhand clothes or used toys for your kids. Online stores can bring added convenience. A study from MIT found that online shopping has half the carbon footprint when compared to traditional shopping. One caveat though is fast shipping. When you use expedited shipping, the carbon footprint is much higher than that of shopping local.
- Purchase travel mugs and water bottles – Instead of buying a plastic water bottle or paper coffee cup each time you’re traveling with your kids, get reusable containers. Let the kids pick their own and even decorate them with stickers or markers.
- Ditch the need for store bags – Bring your own reusable bags when shopping. You can even find mesh produce bags that can be used again and again.
- Let the whole family get on the ‘recycle’ bandwagon – Set up a recycling station at home and teach the kids how to identify recycling symbols on items.
- Upcycle – Challenge your family members to come up with some ways to upcycle things that might otherwise end up in the trash. For example, a large plastic juice bottle can be cut in half and decorated to make a container for a plant.
As a parent, successfully teaching your kids about living a sustainable lifestyle will be an achievement to celebrate! And the process can be a lot easier than you might imagine. Kids will happily come onboard when they begin to understand how to preserve the environment. When sustainable living is always on your mind, it becomes easier and more natural to make these changes daily, one step at a time!