A Dozen Ways To Lessen Your Family’s Impact On The Environment

Ippei Naoi / Getty Images

Ippei Naoi / Getty Images

As citizens of our planet, one of our most important jobs is protecting the environment. As parents, we want our children to inherit the best world possible – and this includes a healthy planet. Sometimes the task can feel overwhelming. However, with small steps each day, you can do your part. Here are a dozen ways to lessen your family’s impact on the environment.

1. Purchase reusable shopping bags – and use them!

One simple way to lessen your family’s impact on the environment is to buy reusable shopping bags. However, don’t forget to use them! A simple way to ensure you always have them with you when you shop is to immediately put them back in your car after your unload your groceries each trip. If that’s too hard, then put the bags by the front door (or garage door or wherever you will be exiting the next time you leave the house).


2. Grow and cook your own food.

Another way you can lessen your family’s impact on the environment is by growing and cooking your own food. You don’t have to grow everything your family eats, but planting and maintaining a garden is great for the environment. Even if you don’t grow your food, reducing animal consumption and purchasing locally grown, in-season produce is a great way to be healthy and environmentally-friendly.

3. Go paperless as a family.

Make it your family’s policy to reduce paper waste. Rely on cloud or other electronic storage for photos and documents. Instead of sending a paper holiday card each year, send an electronic one. Opt for paperless billing, and manage and pay all your bills online. These are small steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.

4. Walk and bike more.

Another environmentally-friendly option your family can exercise is to do just that–get out and exercise! Walk or bike to recreational activities instead of driving. Not only will you help make the planet healthier, but you will improve your fitness as well.

5. Use glass and stainless steel products instead of paper and plastic ones.

Similarly, you can reduce your family’s impact on the environment by eliminating your use of paper and plastic products. Purchase glass or stainless steel water bottles. Use stainless steel straws instead of plastic ones. Make sure your food storage containers are sustainable and reusable as well. These little steps go a long way toward reducing waste.

6. Rely on solar energy.

You may have noticed more and more homes with solar panels in recent years, and it’s for good reason. Solar power is a great way to fuel your home and to reduce your carbon footprint. Not only that, but you can save thousands on your home energy costs each year.

7. Take public transportation.

Does your family live in an area with a robust public transportation system? If so, consider opting for public transportation instead of driving. If your area lacks accessible and reliable buses and subways, consider car-pooling. Group rides to school or work are a great way to help others be more environmentally-friendly as well!

8. Ensure the products you buy are created in eco-friendly ways.

Another way you can lessen your family’s impact on the environment is to ensure the products your family uses are created in sustainable ways. Install energy-efficient windows and insulation. Purchase clothing made with organic materials. The choices we make as consumers add up–so think about how your family’s choices are affecting the environment.

9. Reduce home energy consumption.

On a related note, find ways to reduce your home energy consumption. Use energy-efficient appliances and lightbulbs. Run dishwashers and washers/dryers at off-peak times. Don’t let electronics run incessantly. Unplug things like chargers and other electronics when not in use.

10. Reduce water waste.

Another step you can take–reduce water waste. Teach kids to turn the water off while they brush their teeth and then turn it on again to rinse. Also, don’t run the washing machine more than necessary, i.e., remember to remove clothes before the end of the night, so you don’t need to run the machine again!

11. Donate and consign.

One great way to be more environmentally-friendly as a family is to donate and consign your old home goods and personal belongings. Ensure that old dresser or computer sees a second life. Even things like door knobs, plumbing fixtures, and cabinets can be restored and remade into something new. If you’re unfamiliar with the consignment and reuse shops in your area, hit up Google. There, you will likely find plenty of places willing to accept personal effects and home furnishings for resale or donation.

12. Recycle!

Finally, the most obvious step you can take: recycle! Be sure you are recycling glass, plastic, metals, organics, textiles, paper, and other recyclables regularly. Take the time each day and each week to ensure items are disposed of properly.

Teach children from a young age that these are all activities they can assist with. Encourage them to live responsibly at home and school and wherever they may go.

What are your favorite ways to lessen your family’s impact on the environment?