10 Ways to be a Greener Family Just in Time for Earth Day

Some easy (seriously) ways for more earth-friendly family life

By Susannah Ferguson, publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo. | Brenna Gutell, publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas April 8, 2024

Tired of reduce, reuse, recycle? We feel your pain. But caring for the Earth is a top priority. Our kids and grandkids deserve their own chances to make questionable fashion moves, misguided career calls, and poor relationship choices.

So let’s all buckle down and make some changes, real changes that make a difference. And no, we’re not talking something drastic like moving off-grid or giving up your morning coffee. Just a few conscious choices we make every day can add up when we work together.

Here are 10 ideas to help you be a greener family:

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1. Get Off Junk Mail Lists

Save the Earth and your cluttered counter by signing up to get off junk mail lists. This one is a win-win and takes all of 2 minutes.

2. Borrow or Rent Instead of Buying

Finally getting around to that home improvement project? Instead of running out and buying a tile saw you’ll never use again, borrow from a friend or neighbor or rent one for the weekend. Keep your garage and the Earth a little cleaner.

3. Choose a Renewable Energy Source

Consider going solar, but if that is not in your budget ask your energy company if they offer residents the option to choose to purchase energy from solar or wind or other green power sources - rates vary. One small phone call could make a huge difference in your home’s carbon footprint.

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4. Buy Secondhand

For most parents dealing with overnight growth spurts, this one’s probably already on your radar. Save ridiculous amounts of money and make a difference? We’re in. Don't stop with clothing, you should consider, secondhand furniture, books, DVDs and Music CDs. Macaroni tip:  Head to local thrift stores, 2nd hand stores, consignment shops, garage sales and even online resellers plus resources like local community groups, buy nothing, Facebook Market Place and Nextdoor. Don't forget these are also great options for your to re-purpose your no longer needed items.

Local resellers:

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5. Kick the Bottled Water Habit

We love bottled water because it’s convenient and easy, but it’s also a top climate killer. Break out all those reusable containers gathering dust and start using them. Just gotta do it.

6. Just Say No to Single-use Packaging

We get it, this one is tough for parents. Fruit snacks, crackers, juice boxes? They’re the staples of this phase of life. But try tossing that huge carton of crackers in the cart along with a few reusable snack bags / containers and you’re doing your part. Not so hard now, is it? The bonus is this is also a budget-friendly option too.

7. Change Your Diet  

Ok, ok, this is kind of big, but hear us out. Go organic and reduce exposure to pesticides and chemicals used to grow produce and grains for consumer consumption and dairy and meat production for your family, the planet and the farm workers and food handlers. Consider cutting down on meat and dairy, it can be better for your health and the planet’s. Veggie burgers can be pretty tasty too. There are many changes you can make, start slow with a few meals a week, or cut down on the biggest climate offenders. Pick ones that work best for your family.

Dig In: 3 Themed Vegetable Gardens Kids Will Love to Grow ... and Eat

8. Dial it Down - or up

We like to be comfortable as much as the next guy, but raising your thermostat a degree or two in the summer and lowering it in the winter makes a real difference. You’ll save money and be greener, and are you really gonna notice if it’s 75 or 76?

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9. Shop Local

Buying local usually means less packaging, less transportation energy used, and it’s just good for our community to support local businesses. Don't forget to visit one of our many farmers markets or sign up for a Farm Box - is so easy.

10 Things to Consider When Choosing a CSA or Farm Box for Your Family

10. Reduce Food Waste

One week the kids eat all the bananas in two days, the next week the whole bunch is turning black on the counter. Been there. But maybe try buying a little less and planning a little more. Instead of opening up the jar of applesauce for an after school snack, slice up the apple that’s shelf life is dwindling. If you can't use that produce before it expires consider freezing it for later. Overripe fruit? How about a smoothie or muffins. And when you do have waste, because you will, try composting it or at the very lease add it to your 'green' bin. 

Small changes can make a big difference!

Susannah Ferguson is the publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo.

Brenna Gutell is the publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas