(image via ci.wixom.mi.us)
Mapping out your errands with your kids can turn into a fun activity to plan and execute. Make a game of running errands by mapping out the shortest route. Grab an old map of your city or use an online map service to draw your own. Involving your children will help deepen their respect for reducing the pollutant they put in the air to run their errands now and as they grow older. You can also point out that since you took the time to bunch all your errands together you have more time to do things you really enjoy.
To live green means to live a sustainable lifestyle that won’t deplete or pollute the earth’s natural resources–and to find ways to replenish or recycle these resources and materials. To be green means to preserve and to protect our environments and our planet. Even small things like mapping out your errands teaches your children this important concept.
Instead of piling into the car, design a bike or walking route that passes all the stops you need for your errands. Most likely it won’t be quicker but when you plan ahead and put aside a block of time it can become a really enjoyable time for you and your family.
Sure, it can be a fun family activity but do your children know why using a car unnecessarily is hurtful to our earth? Pollutants like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons destroy the earth’s protective ozone layer, which shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) rays generated from the sun.
The stratospheric ozone layer makes it possible for life to exist by shielding the earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) rays generated from the sun. There is a substantial amount of scientific evidence that suggests man-made compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons destroy ozone in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere). Decreased concentration of stratospheric ozone allows increased levels of UV-B rays to reach the earth’s surface. It also harms us as humans and the environment by increased incidence of skin cancer and cataracts; damage to terrestrial and aquatic plant life; damage to our immune system; premature aging of the skin; and increased formation of ground-level ozone (smog).
If your children understand a bit more of the WHY behind your reasoning they will be more excited to help you!
I have a new favorite book I purchased from The Land of Nod. It is A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry and Marc Simont.
“Trees are beautiful. They fill up the sky. If you have a tree, you can climb up its trunk, roll in its leaves, or hang a swing from one of its limbs. Cows and babies can nap in the shade of a tree. Birds can make nests in the branches. A tree is good to have around. A tree is nice.”
My favorite illustration is the black and white one of the boy fishing surrounded by trees. He looks so relaxed and at peace surrounded by the beautiful trees. When I think of my relationship with trees a similar picture comes to mind.
You can also purchase it through Amazon.com.
Family Activity Ideas
- Read this book and have family drawing time where you draw your relationship with trees or a tree.
- Go outdoors with a field guide to explore different kinds of trees and teach your children the importance of trees.
- Spend some time drawing, reading, talking, resting, playing around the trees.
- Find a place where you and your family can plant a tree!
The Arbor Day Foundation is a great site to do a little research and planning before having your tree family activity.
Think you have seen every cute, eco-friendly shopping bag? Well, you haven’t! Want to see the cute bags the girls and I carry around our favorite grocery store?
It is estimated that one tote bag saves 1,000 plastic bags in its lifetime.
Dogeared Bags are eco-friendly in and of themselves because they are made from natural cotton. The size is a little larger than most eco-friendly bags and the carrying straps are large enough to throw over your shoulder.
We found ours at Nordstrom but they are also available online for $27 per tote.
I recently moved into a new home and decided to take the opportunity to “start fresh.” Now I really think about every single thing that comes into my home: its ingredients, origins…everything. I was having a hard time finding home decor that fit my family’s style and from a company I wanted to support. I received a catalog in the mail from At West End and got on the phone to learn more about their company. The products were simply stunning, unique, eclectic, inspired by nature and made from recycled products. But I wanted to know more. The owner Doug Williams took the time to help me out and I am now their biggest supporter.
For over twenty years they have offered a well rounded selection of handmade products from around the world. They have searched all over so each piece in their line has a very artisan feel. Everything you buy helps the world locally and globally. The owners Doug and Susan have a “Kids Foundation” where they support, give service and are very involved in four different charities. The fund they raise help provide medical care, education, food and shelter for children in Haiti, Colombia and Honduras.
I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to learn this part of their company, which they don’t push in your face. It took a bit of digging to understand how awesome they really are. For Father’s Day I bought my husband a recycled fire pit that he promptly announced was the best present he ever received from me. My office is full of furniture, magazine racks, mirrors, driftwood balls and coat racks from their catalog.
My home is now FULL of decor items from At West End, all high quality and which represent a mission I truly support and believe in.
We recently moved into a new home where landscaping needs to be done–and soon to meet HOA guidelines. However, I am completely lost and confused with all the options and don’t know the best decision. Whatever we do choose it needs to meet these guidelines:
1. Be safe for my children and pets
2. Be environmental friendly
3. Work with the dry climate of Utah
4. Be affordable
5. Not have much upkeep since I am the one in charge of the lawn care in my home
After much research this is what I have learned and hopefully it will help me make a decision!
Having a real lawn in my state (Utah), let alone my city, will be n environmental nightmare. Using gas lawn mowers is very pollutant to the air and is one of my least favorite things to do or even pay someone to do. Why not consider AstroTurf? Using fertilizer, sometimes even an all natural kind, make our dogs very ill even after waiting the recommended time until they are allowed back on the lawn. It seems like the perfect solution; it is pretty expensive but looks beautiful. Will I be able to get over the fact that it is not real? That it makes a weird plastic “crunch” noise every time you walk through it? I have heard there might be unhealthy amounts of lead in AstroTurf so now I am on the lookout for an environmental friendly, all natural AstroTurf.
If we do or don’t decide to go with AstroTurf we can also “decorate” the lawn with plants. My state has some good recommendations for the process of choosing these plants:
- Identify individual existing species of plants and their particular needs for sunlight, water, soil, and nutrient conditions.
- Do not plant plants that are on the invasive plant list for your area/region. Remove invasive plants from your site.
- Using plants that grow locally makes your job of raising them easier as they are already accustomed to your local growing conditions.
- By using locally adapted or native plants you can reduce water needs to a minimum and eliminate the need for some irrigation systems in certain areas.
It is important when planning your landscaping that it be modified easily for your family as it grows, changes, etc. This means less work for you and less hurt to the environment . Planting deciduous, shade trees on the south and west side of the house can reduce summer cooling costs and lower energy consumption. Trees are also valuable in shading paved areas (streets, driveways, and terraces) to reduce the heat on your landscape, which would be important if I went with AstroTurf . In Utah we are also exposed to winter winds, so a tall evergreen windbreak planted on the windward side of the home can reduce heating bills and energy consumption.
My husband is a dog trainer and we have dogs of our own so cleaning up after them is a huge part of our daily routine. And since our lawn must carry the “scent” of dogs it attracts all of the neighbors’ dogs that escape from their homes or are (annoyingly) roaming free. Droppings from dogs and cats and from other commonly kept animals like exotic birds, rabbits, lizards, goats and chickens may contain bacteria, parasites, nutrients, or viruses that are a health risk to other pets and people, especially children. If pet waste is washed into a storm drain it can end up in a lake, river, creek or coastal waters. Pet waste is a contaminant in many streams and rivers. Keep pet waste away from gardens, ditches, storm drains and waterways. Dispose of pet waste by placing it in the garbage can or pet waste digester (available at pet stores). Do not use pet waste for compost. Always carry a bag and scooper when walking a pet to clean up after them. Do not leave pet waste on driveways, sidewalks, or surfaces where it can wash into storm drains, streams, or waterways.
Writing this article has given me lots of ideas, better educated me in this area and hopefully will help me come to a decision! Any suggestions?
I have to preface this by saying this is a healthy pizza that preschoolers can make! I made Fruit Pizzas for a wedding once that were beautiful, full of tons of sugar and a lot more complex. THIS is definitely not that recipe but my girls thought it was pretty darn good They were also very proud of themselves for doing it all on their own.
- Whole Grain Pitas
- Organic Yogurt
- Fresh Cut Fruit
To help consumers further separate fact from fiction this Earth Day, Cotton Incorporated has created an interactive quiz (“Do You Know Green?”) on its two popular websites, www.MysteryFabric.com and www.TheFabricOfOurLives.com.
The quiz doesn’t have too many questions promoting their brand and is a great resource for educating “greenie newbies.” I even ended up using the quiz as a game to teach my children a few new things.
The quiz takes users through a series of true-or-false statements that challenge them on various topics:
· Is it more energy friendly to cool down your car with the air conditioner or by rolling down the windows?
· Is it better for the environment to wash dishes in the dishwasher or by hand?
· Do electronics use energy even when they are turned off?
It answers the question that recently evolved from “How can I go green?” into “What can I do that will really help the environment?”
In celebration of Earth Day be sure to play this quiz/game with your kiddos! If you don’t learn a new tip or two your children certainly will!
“For 200 years we’ve been conquering nature. Now we’re beating it to death.” ~Tom McMillan (The Greenhouse Trap, Francesca Lyman, 1990)
Two things my girls have enjoyed doing this Spring: playing in the rain and helping me start the garden. The perfect activity for combining these twoo things is collecting rainwater! With how dry it can be here in Utah we need to save all the water we can. Rainwater can reduce the reliance on city water and save resources, especially as water ordinances and restrictions tighten and water becomes more scarce. Collecting rainwater for your spring/summer garden is the perfect solution and a fun experience for your kids. It is also a great way to teach your children water conservation–and you’ll enjoy the lower water bills!
If you have a small garden like mine (we just have an herb and salsa garden) you can have the children place their buckets and pails outside when you know a rainstorm is coming. This will ensure you have enough water for a couple of weeks.
A popular option is to buy barrels and use diverted gutter water to fill them, but to get more storage for less money you can make your own system. You can find usable barrels at a variety of places or use old whiskey barrels or reconditioned food grade plastic barrels. You can also look under “Containers or Barrels–Used” in your local yellow pages. One word of caution: An open barrel can attract bugs and is a safety hazard. Put a tight-fitting screen over it and never leave children unsupervised. You can also ask at your local gardening center about “mosquito doughnuts” if you are worried about the barrel becoming a place for mosquito breeding grounds. A “mosquito doughnut” will quickly take care of the problem.
Collected rainwater can be used to do other things besides watering the garden. Use it to water your lawn, do laundry, fill decorative ponds and family pools, water plants and even flush toilets! Collecting rainwater is a great way to recycle and reuse one of our most important natural resources!
Want to do something eco-friendly with family and friends? Host a “Night-In!” How do you host a “Night In?” Start by turning off all TVs, computers, lights, appliances and use as little electricity as possible. Sit together and tell stories, play cards or play your favorite board game. If you need more light for playing games, place a few candles around the room (out of reach of children, of course).
My personal favorite when it comes to board games is Don’t Break the Ice. I have loved this game since I was a little girl. A “Night In” creates a wonderful opportunity for reliving past memories and provides the perfect opportunity for creating new ones!
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