When I was growing up, my parents were always very conscientious when it came to things like energy conservation, water usage, and recycling. Now that I’m an adult, conservation is deeply rooted in me. Caring for the Earth and conserving all our precious resources is a priority for me. Not only is my family doing our part to conserve the health of our planet, but we also end up saving ourselves a good amount of money on our energy and water bills each month. My husband and I have worked together to teach our kids to be mindful of these concepts from an early age, and I can already see it paying off. We are definitely not perfect when it comes to being “green,” but I feel good knowing that we are contributing in as many ways as we can.
Being a parent is hard enough as it is, so if we can reduce our family’s carbon footprint even just a little bit, I call it a win!
Below I’ve listed several of the ways that we conserve inside (and outside!) our home.
Turning Things Off
We always turn off lights, televisions, etc. when we are done with them. We don’t leave the TV going in the background, and we switch lights off before we leave a room. During the day, we utilize natural light by opening curtains and blinds, and at night we use lights only in the room that we are in. Both our kids require several “extras” at bed time–night lights, humidifiers, sound machines, etc. Our five-year-old daughter knows that when she wakes up in the morning, she is responsible for turning off any lights or machines that are running before she leaves her room.
We have an older home, and although we have energy efficient windows, there are definitely still several improvements to be made. In the meantime, we do what we can to conserve on heating and cooling. In the summer, we close blinds when the afternoon sun is scorching through our west-facing windows. We also turn the swamp cooler off before we go to bed. In the winter, we keep our thermostat at 68 degrees. It’s warm enough to keep the house livable, and if we feel chilly, we pull out the fuzzy socks and robes.
We are really careful with our water usage. When washing hands or brushing teeth, we use just enough to wet hands or toothbrush. Then we do all the necessary scrubbing, and turn the water back on when it’s time to rinse. The same goes for dishes. I typically fill a plastic tub with soapy water, scrub the dishes, and then run the water when it’s time to rinse. In the tub, we use “just enough” water, rather than filling it all the way. In the shower, I often turn the water off while shaving, etc. and then turn it back on to rinse.
Ways to Save and Re-use Water
We harvest rainwater. We have two rain barrels: one in the front yard and one in the back yard. I use these to water all my plants. Obviously when we’re not getting much rain, we supplement with the hose. But you’d be surprised how much rainwater you can harvest! I also re-use water from kids activities like the baby pool and the water table. When they’re done playing, I use the leftover water for plants, rather than just dumping it. I haven’t started doing this yet, but my parents use a big utility bucket to collect the water from the shower as it heats up. Then they use that water for their plants.
We recycle pretty much everything that we can. My kids know to put their recyclables into the sink so we can rinse and recycle. We utilize our blue bin for plastic, aluminum, cardboard, etc. We take our glass to a nearby drop-off site periodically.
Food and Drink Storage
I haven’t committed to giving up baggies and Saran Wrap yet, but we do our best with food/drink storage. The kids each have one of these stainless steel Contigo bottles, which we’ve had for over two years now, and they have held up great. We love them because if you put a few ice cubes in them, they stay cold for several hours. For food, we have these awesome bento boxes, which I use on an almost daily basis for either lunches or snacks. I love them. They fit in a standard lunch box and cut way down on our baggie usage.