Brayden is officially done with school for the year and summer is now in full swing at Casa de Oh Mandie. And with two little boys running through the house and yard all day long now wastefulness is abound. Our family summer project this year is to go green. Greener than before. I'm talking full oh Ooompa Loompa Green.
We're making changes here on the farm in how we live and how we consume. We've been a recycling family for awhile now, but beyond that there is a whole world of green goodness just waiting to be discovered. Here are a few, kid friendly, ideas to get your family to be green as well.
1. Switch out your light bulbs to CFL bulbs (the swirly kind). If every American home replaced just one light with an ENERGY STAR light, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, about $700 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions of about 800,000 cars. I know, I know, but CFL light bulbs are so much more expensive, right? An ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb will save about $30 over its lifetime and will actually pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
2. Start using reusable tote bags when you go shopping. Did you know that we use 500 billion plastic bags annually, which equals roughly almost 1 million per minute? Those plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food, not to mention that it takes an estimated 12 million barrels of oil to make that many plastic bags.
3. Buy your produce from the Farmer's Market, not those fancy chain retailers. While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer's market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time. Not to mention that when you buy organic produce from those big retailers that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of even buying organic in the first place. So support your body and your community.
4. Line Dry your Clothes. Dryers use up a lot of electricity — almost more than any other household appliance. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an electric clothes dryer accounts for almost six percent of a household’s annual electricity consumption. That may not sound like a lot, but consider how many items in your modern-day dwelling use electricity. If you average $100 a month for your electric bill, your clothes dryer accounts for $72 per year. That’s almost another month of electricity in your home! The sun is a natural whitener, so when you put thoroughly wet whites out on the line, the stains fade naturally. No need for bleach or other whitening chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Yes, dryers make your clothes softer, but they also weaken the fabric’s fibers much faster than if they had been air dried. All that lint after a cycle in the dryer? That’s fabric slowly wearing off of your clothes. It’s gradual, for sure, but in our family, we prefer buying fewer quality clothes, so I want them to last as long as possible.
5. Use cloth towels rather than paper towels. 99% of things that you would use a paper towel for would work just as well if not better with a cloth towel. Not to mention that a decrease in U.S. household consumption of just three rolls of paper towels per year would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million dollars in landfill dumping fees. Cut up some old shirts to make cleaning rags, or grab some fancy tea towel and linen napkins.