As cloth diapering families, we’re all already making strides to lessen our environmental footprint one diaper at a time. I’ve talked about some ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday and even some fun activities to do with the kids, but I thought I’d share a more comprehensive list here today. You’ve probably heard of some of these over the years, and others may seem far fetched, but I’ve done that on purpose. We’re all at a different part of our green journey, so I figured they were all mentionable. It’s also always good to have a reminder on some of the basics and it’s possible to tweak some of the more “outrageous” ideas to work for you in a more practical sense (ie starting at less waste rather than aiming for zero waste). Also, I’ve organized these tips but sometimes you’ll find some that could go into more than one category, so just assume that it’s straddling the line. Oh, and I’m positive I’ve missed some (there are just so many amazing changes we can make), so please don’t hesitate to add your ideas in the comments!
Use cloth diapers. (Kind of a given. ;-)) Switch to cloth wipes. Develop a capsule wardrobe for yourself. Develop a capsule wardrobe for every member of your family. Find a store that offers bulk items (everything from wine and olive oil to soap and shampoo) and use your own refillable bottles. Buy coffee in bulk (again, with a portable reusable bag). Limit screen time. Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and warmer in the summer. Be cognizant of your water use (and take shorter showers). Carry a “zero waste” kit for each family member when you go out. Include a stainless steel straw, utensils, a cloth napkin, etc. Avoid one-use party supplies. Get a stainless steel water bottle for every member of the family. Schedule your errands for one round-trip drive to reduce gas use and emissions. Go “zero waste.” (There are tons of resources online and on YouTube.) Use handkerchiefs. Ask for fewer holiday and birthday gifts (and perhaps more “experience gifts” instead). Pare down the makeup and toiletries you use when you’re done with them. Purge your belongings and either sell items or donate them to those in need. Buy clothes at second-hand stores or through websites like ThredUp. Replace your light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs when needed. Wash with cold water when possible. Use a clothesline or drying rack. Carpool. Unplug appliances when you’re not using them or use a smart adapter that will cut off “phantom” energy use. Use a faucet aerator. Install a low-flow showerhead. Put a brick or repurpose a bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce water use. Share tools and other appliances with neighbors and family. Read newspapers online. Pay bills online.
Save wrapping, ribbons, and gift bags to reuse. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. Pack your lunch using reusable lunch, sandwich, and snack bags, and glass containers. Use reusable mesh produce bags. Swap kid clothes and shoes with family/friends. Swap decor items from one room to another to freshen the look without buying more. Use reusable makeup wipes. Switch to reusable feminine care products (menstrual cups and washable cotton pads). Use a reusable mug for tea and coffee. Use your children’s drawings and art to wrap gifts. Regift unopened items that you had no need for. (It’s okay, really.) Think out of the box with decor items - like repurposing wine bottles as a light fixture. Buy reusable batteries. Share your used magazines with friends or donate to a local group (a battered women’s shelter, a VA group, a homeless shelter, etc.)
Use old towels/washcloths/t-shirts for rags. Use old toothbrushes to clean grout and other hard-to-reach spots. If you absolutely have to buy water, recycle the bottle. Recycle your old cell phones. Recycle appropriately.
GOOD FOR YOU AND THE PLANET
Buy food and cleaning supplies with less chemicals. Make your own cleaning supplies with essential oils. Walk or bike whenever possible. Check your makeup and toiletries for inhumane practices and harmful chemicals. Support local farmers, particularly those who subscribe to humane and organic practices. Eat humane grassfed beef and milk and free range chicken and eggs (or go vegetarian/vegan altogether). Eat one meatless meal a week or consider a flexitarian diet. Eat organic foods. Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. Buy a new houseplant. Diffuse essential oils or use natural soy candles rather than traditional ones.
Support green businesses. Support a cause (or two…) that speaks to you. Buy products made with natural fibers rather than synthetic. Volunteer for a wildlife organization or group. Be vocal (but not condescending) about your choices and why you make them. Contact your representatives and demand that they make eco-friendly choices. Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. Lobby against pesticide use in public parks and places. Buy sustainable home goods, like jute rugs and bamboo furniture. Use low- and no-VOC paints.
MAKE IT HANDS-ON FOR YOUR KIDS
Keep a box of recyclables to use as craft supplies. Suggest that your child’s group (Girl/Boy Scouts, Altruism Club, Environmental Club, etc.) hold a regular community clean-up day. (Or have your own!) Keep recycling bins in convenient places. Buy eco-friendly craft supplies and toys. Read books from the local library. Start a little library for a book share. Start a vegetable/herb garden. Start a wildflower (bee/butterfly) garden. If you’re feeling brave, replace your front yard with one! Grow drought-resistant plants. Make a compost pile. Start a beehive. Raise your own chickens. Only go to zoos and aquariums that subscribe to sustainable, conservatory practices. Collect rainwater to water plants. Watch pro-science/environmental shows like “Nature Cat” and “Wild Kratts” (in moderation).
ENJOY THE EARTH WE HAVE
Go on bike rides and walks. Use nature/hiking trails. Find a favorite outside space and visit it often. When traveling, find a new natural spot to explore and appreciate. Try a new activity (canoeing, hiking, surfing, etc) with the whole family. Go outside every day (even on rainy or snowy days).