Five Surprisingly Simple Tips to Help Your Family be More Eco Friendly
In honor of Earth Month, we asked minimalist and decluttering expert, Dr. Denaye Barahona of simplefamilies.com, to share her health-and-wellness tips around sustainable family living.
Moving towards a more sustainable home can feel anything but simple. Going “green” with family may feel overwhelming, and you might be wondering where to start – after all, according to new Zulily research, 88% of parents wish that their environmental footprint was smaller, and 85% feel they would benefit from having more guidance on how to reduce their environmental footprint as a family. You’ll be relieved to know that there are many ways you can move towards an earth-friendly home and lifestyle.
Start small with things like increasing the amount of outdoor play for your kids, visiting local farms, and commit to learning together. That’s why I’ve partnered with online retailer Zulily as they launched their first-ever Sustainability Shop in honor of Earth Month. The Shop is curated with eco-friendly products that are either Reusable, Recycled or Recognized* and make it easier for families to make small changes at home that have a big impact over time. Across the world, we’ve seen major shifts towards living more sustainably. If you’re looking for how to get started with your family, here are five surprisingly simple tips:
Sustainability needs to be sustainable for you
When we commit to making change, it’s important to remember what we’re capable of. We can do anything, but we can’t do everything all at once. If you go big and try to make too many changes simultaneously, it’s going to be hard to maintain. Instead of trying to revolutionize your lifestyle overnight, pick a few minor modifications to ease into it instead, like using a HydroFlask and a reusable straw lid for your water – or similar reusable water bottles, just look for the Reusable, Recycled or Recognized badge! These things should be easy for you to sustain as time passes.
Build your connection with nature
Raising green kids can be as simple as taking them outside to play. Scandinavian countries are often praised for having have superior levels of sustainability. What these countries also have is a connection to nature. From the beginning of life, babies nap outdoors. As kids grow, they spend many hours every day outside. In doing this, children develop an appreciation for nature very early in life. When we have a connection and appreciation for the natural world, we will feel compelled to protect it. Another way to build this connection to the natural world is incorporating green, eco-friendly toys into play time – like these options from Green Toys Inc. Both their Pink & Purple Dump Truck and Pink Tea Set’s product and packaging are 100% made in the USA from recycled material like milk jugs and yogurt cups. It’s a fun way to teach kids about reusing materials and the importance of recycling!
Start buying better
Everyone loves a good deal, right? Shopping for good value is important, but we also need to focus on quality over quantity. That means focusing on buying better quality items that will last longer like reusable bags (don’t forget to look for the Reusable, Recycled or Recognized badge) that fit easily in a purse or your car’s cupholder. One brand I love is Bagpodz because they can hold enough reusable bags to carry a cartful of groceries, and are tough, water repellent and fully washable. When we buy better quality, the items we buy will be more durable and can even be passed along to other families after we are done. This means less waste and less clutter!
Shop locally and cook seasonally
Believe it or not, many kids think food originates in the grocery store. Take your kids on a trip to see farms and meet the people who grow the foods. They may even have a chance to pick their own fruits and vegetables. When we shop for local food, it’s easy to focus on buying what’s currently in season. The bonus is that buying food in season usually saves money, too.
Be a teacher and a learner
Research shows us that kids learn through watching the people around them. It’s important to be role models for our children and live a life we’re proud to show them— including making more earth-friendly choices. When it comes to habits at home, parents ranked turning off the water when brushing their teeth (44%) and avoiding single use plastics (32%) as most important when it comes to teaching their kids sustainable practices, but kids wasting their food (45%) and taking long showers (35%) are top sustainability pet peeves for parents. Not only do our kids learn by watching us, but they can also learn through reading books and watching videos about sustainability. Visit your local library to borrow some kid-friendly books on recycling, composting, growing food, climate change, etc. When we learn together with our kids, we can team up to develop a family culture of sustainability that will last long after Earth Month has passed.
Bonus tip: Shopping can also do some good. Zulily has partnered with Conservation International, a non-profit organization which has been fighting to protect nature for over 30 years – and are donating $50,000 to help Conservation International’s Forest Restoration Program plant 25,000 trees. You can help them double that contribution! From April 6 – April 30, 2021, for every eligible $35 purchase a U.S. resident makes with at least one item purchased from The Sustainability Shop, Zulily will donate an additional $1, up to a maximum total donation of $100,000, to help plant another 25,000 trees internationally.
*All products in Zulily’s The Sustainable Shop are identified as either Reusable (products can be used over and over again), Recycled (products made from partially recycled content including recycled raw material, as well as used, reconditioned, and re-manufactured components) and/or Recognized (brand meets standards established by a third-party with respect to certain eco-benefits).