October 01, 2007

The 4 R's for Green Parents & Kids

REDUCE: Simple enough... the less garbage we create, the less gets put into the landfills
Use cloth lunch bags, use cloth sandwich and snack bags (some great ones can be found on Etsy.com- all handmade by small independent merchants and moms!). Say "NO!" to paper towels, use cloth. A cloth napkin can last several days before needing anything, and be washed with regular laundry. These few simple things a family can do to reduce their contribution to landfills.
REUSE: STOP! Don't throw that away, re-use it, re-purpose it.
Many things that are in your kitchen and thrown out on a daily basis can be re-used in children's crafts. Egg Cartons: can be used to teach grouping and sorting (colored buttons for example), holders for small stickers, create caterpillars. Juice Boxes: cut off the top, glue on a construction paper wrap (after washing out of course), and viola! You've got handy dandy pencil and craft supply holders (not to mention a great afternoon of making a cool craft with your child/children). Paper Towel/Toilet Paper tubes make great pirate spy glasses or train/car tunnels. They also can be cut up to make napkin rings for those cloth napkins you're going to be using! (another nice craft time with the kids, is painting and personalizing them). Styrofoam Meat Platters: wash good, and you've now got paint pallettes for your little Picasso.
Got a pet? Use those newspaper plastic wraps to dispose of the poo.
RECYCLE: This is one we've all been doing for years, right????
Each week make sure all your glass, plastic, and aluminum cans go out in the recycle bin. Did you also know that books can be recycled? (first, though, try to take them to a used bookstore!). Just seperate the covers and the paper. Covers can be recycled with cardboard, and the pages with your newspaper. In many places "reynold's wrap"/tin foin/aluminum foil (whatever it's called in your family) can be put out with your soda cans. Phonebooks usually can be take to a recycling center as well.

REBUY: Do you REALLY need it new?
Let's face it, there isn't much that HAS to be bought brand new.
Children's clothes are a great example. A 4 year old is murder on clothes, not to mention they grow out of them soooooo fast. Thrift stores, consingment stores, and online places like Ebay & Craigslist are a great friend the the frugal re-buying parent. (not to mention if the kid doesn't kill the pants with numerous falls off the jungle gym, then you can re-sell it to pay for the next size of clothes you're buying)
Books! C'mon... do you NEED that Patterson they day it comes out? Can you wait a month and get it used at a local used bookstore? (and yes, occassionally even I get a new book, but it does get re-sold after I'm done to some one that had more patience than I!)
Lots and lots of baby items can be found on Craigslist, at yard sales, and Ebay.
Many household items can be found at these places as well. The more we re-buy or buy used, the less winds up in landfills and dumps.
(hint thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find those cloth napkins you're going to start using)

A final note.... many of the things listed above do take a little bit of sacrifice. yes, it means washing a napkin, yes it means taking the time to think about what is going into the garbage can as opposed to the recycle bin. Yes, your child may not have the latest fashions. But to be honest, isn't it a bit more important for their to be a healthy planet for that child to live on as an adult.

There are many more things you can do under each heading.... these are just a few ideas to get you and the family thinking. I suggest a family meeting to look around the house and see where else you can apply one of the 4R's of green living.

No comments: