Bottled Water With Tap Water. The average American drinks 173 bottles of bottled water per year, a waste considering the high quality and low cost of tap water. Invest in pretty reusable water bottles for everyone in the family, then stop spending on bottled water. Even if you need a filtering pitcher, you’ll save when you reduce the amount of bottled water you buy.
Take Reusable Grocery Bags. Say goodbye to all those paper or plastic bags cluttering up your pantry when you take reusable grocery bags. To cut down waste even more, save and reuse plastic produce bags or purchase biodegradable plastic bags.
Carpool. Busy parents put a lot of miles on the car taking kids to extracurricular activities. Why not carpool and share teh driving with other parents while cutting down on the environmental impact? Get the kids involved — and build math skills — by tracking miles and gas saved through carpooling.
Repair, Don’t Replace. How often do you purchase a new appliance or item because you don’t have the time, interest, or knowledge to repair it? Learning a few repair skills can foster confidence and frugality. Whether it’s learning to sew on buttons or rewire a broken light fixture, there are many ways to lower your environmental impact by repairing common household items instead of adding to landfills. Boost your knowledge through online videos, community skill-shares, or workshops offered at home improvement or craft stores.
Nix Plastic for 30 Days. Once you’ve tried the basic tips, nix plastic for 30 days. Don’t purchase food in plastic containers, sodas, or plastics for the home. Recycle plastic bags when you visit the grocery story, instead of taking new plastic bags for each fruit or vegetable. The idea of giving up plastic forever is daunting, but a 30-day challenge is a fun way to cut back on how much plastic your family uses in a month without feeling deprived.
Donate, Don’t Toss. Instead of throwing away clothing, shoes, books, or home goods, donate them or give them to a friend. Since many thrift shops sell unwanted clothes for rags, this is a great way to get one last use from things you might have tossed. When you switch out clothing for the seasons, have everyone pile up stuff that no longer fits, then donate. You’ll also pass along charitable values to your kids by thinking of others. While you’re donating, take a few minutes to browse. You might find next season’s clothing for less!
Reuse Containers. Re-purpose glass containers as storage jars, reuse plastic containers to start garden seeds, or wash and reuse everything from aluminum foil to plastic sandwich baggies. Each additional use you get out of something you’d otherwise toss or recycle saves you money. Turn this into a game by awarding the kids one point every time they reuse something around the home, then give a reward at the end of the month.
Recycle and Redeem.
Develop a recycling routine if you don’t have one already. Start by finding your community’s recycling guidelines and making sure you are following them. You may accidentally be trying to recycle a type of plastic that your community does not recycle. To motivate the kids to get in on recycling, turn in soda cans for cash and let them decide how to spend it. While your local recycling will take care of most everyday recyclables, don’t forget about the stuff you can’t recycle municipally. This includes electronics, compact fluorescent light bulbs, plastic bags, printer cartridges, and batteries. Look for stores that offer recycling for these special items to keep greening your home.
Turn Trash to Crafts. Let kids showcase their creative side with materials that would otherwise be tossed in the rubbish or recycling. Think dog toys made from old t-shirts, pencil holders from tin cans, or bird feeders from plastic bottles. For older kids, melt down crayons into candles, bind scrap paper into a notebook, or make lanterns from tin cans.
Clean Up Your Community. While you’re walking around, collect trash and recyclables you find in your neighborhood or at the local park. Wear disposable gloves or carry tongs for hygiene. Toss the waste and recycle the rest. This small act also models positive behavior for your kids.
While there are ways to “go green” that involve spending money, you don’t need to spend a lot to save big, as these strategies prove. When you creatively reuse, reduce, and recycle materials, you will save money, foster creative thinking, and come together as a family.