By Ashley Koch of Vibrantly Healthy Kids
Today is Earth Day! It is a great moment to check in and consider the impact your family is having on the environment. Making changes starts with small steps and each of these, in time, can have great impact. What I hope families understand is that sometimes making changes likes this can feel uncomfortable and inconvenient, but in the end they are often worth the effort.
Here are some ideas on how your family might take intentional steps to becoming a more conscious consumer in service to our planet. Consider involving your kids in the process. Try making a list of changes you want to make together and create a plan for how to stick to this list.
1. Reduce & Eliminate Your Reliance on Single Use Plastic
This includes plastics that are used only once then thrown away. For example: straws, drink stirrers, water bottles, plastic bags and most packaged foods. Most of these single use plastic products are not great for your health, the ocean or the planet. Be more mindful of purchasing single use plastic and ask yourself if there are any alternatives available. If you aren’t convinced, here is a great reason why:
2. Invest in Reusable Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Stainless steel water bottles can be a heavy expense out the gate but the return on your investment has a greater impact on the planet, your health and a lifestyle you're creating with your kids. Get in the habit of packing it with school lunches and bringing it with you. We love the Hydroflask and Swell which come in a range of family friendly sizes. It helps children build the habit of drinking lots of water and reduces your impact on the environment. Say “no” to plastic bottled water and drinks. It is estimated that 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 and less than half were recycled. The majority ends up in the ocean and landfills. Most US public water systems have more regulations than the plastic water bottle industry. Consider investing in a water filter and say no to disposable plastic bottled water.
3. Waste Free Lunches
If you pack lunch for your children, make it a waste free lunch. Find a high quality lunchbox that can stand the test of time. Include a reusable water bottle, reusable utensils and a cloth napkin. Utilize real, whole food when possible as it’s healthier for the kids and it reduces their waste by eliminating more single use plastic. Want to increase your impact? Encourage your school to adopt a waste free lunch packing policy. See our favorite waste free lunch gear here.
4. Say No to Bags
You could also try to bring you own reusable produce bags and reusable cloth shopping bags. This allows you to opt out of the single use plastic disposable produce bags, plastic shopping bags and paper bags.
5. Get Creative with Your Party Favors
Consider something more useful and eco-friendly, such as; seed packets for children to plant, homemade play dough, or homemade crayons in fun shapes made from your broken crayon collection. Start a trend by skipping the disposable plastic toys that get very little attention, end up being a waste of money, and often end up in the landfill.
6. Skip the Straw Day
Did you know that every 4th day of February is National Skip the Straw Day? According to National Geographic, Americans use 500 million straws a day. Next time you are out a restaurant, consider asking to skip the straw. Encourage your local restaurants to not serve every drink with a straw and convince them to convert to compostable straws.
7. Go Digital for the Holidays
Consider creating a digital annual holiday card to send to friends and family. I know this is a wild idea that won’t be popular with all families, but consider how many trees we would all save if we embraced technology and decided to reimagine a holiday tradition? Thankfully technology has made it easier for our friends and family to get weekly photo updates of our amazing kids, so why not embrace fully technology this Holiday season?
8. Find your Things a New Home
Avoid sending as much as you can to the landfill. A group of local parents in our area started a buy nothing Facebook group for our city. Individuals can post things that they no longer need and these things find a new home with another family. This ensures your items get a lot of use before they end up in the landfill or recycle bin. If this isn’t a possibility, be sure to donate as much as you can to a local organization that can make these goods available to others—local center serving families, a women's domestic violence shelter or Goodwill are great places to start.
9. Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Supplies
Consider replacing your cleaning products and personal care products with environmental friendly choices. This is better for your health and better for the environment. Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep will help you find personal care products that are safe alternatives. Environmental Working Group also offers a cleaning guide with more eco-friendly cleaning products that are better for your health. Grove Collaborative is also a great B Corps option and offers a monthly subscription so you can set it and forget it.
10. Check Out What Other Folks Are Up To
For a little more inspiration, visit Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home. Bea and her family of four create a jar of trash each year. She has made it her life’s work to share tips and tricks around the world to help others reduce their waste and reminds us that we can live happy lives with less.
Ashley spends her days as mother of two vibrant girls, a student completing her master’s to become a Family Functional Nutritionist and inspiring families to take over their health at Vibrantly Healthy Kids. When her family isn’t in the kitchen, you can find them at the local Northern California farmers markets, playground hopping in their city of San Francisco, hiking, and digging their toes in the sand of the San Francisco beaches. Read about her favorite foods for growing your child’s healthy brain and and cultivating their healthy gut.
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2018 Powerful Voices of the Year is a Sunday Series, featuring guest bloggers & parents covering some of the most important topics of our time; race, racism, religion, pregnancy and birth, grief and loss, entrepreneurship, women's rights, immigration, nutrition, sustainability, climate change, transgender voices, transracial adoption, foster care, art, representation, and yoga for surviving through crisis.