You have two homes really. There is your home, the place we tend to pay the most attention to. Then there is the planet. While it’s easy to divide the two and focus your energy on one or the other, try seeing them as spaces that flow into one another. The earth will affect your home, and your home will affect the earth. But saving the planet doesn’t have to happen with grand gestures. It can start right in your own home, and there are easy ways your kids can help, too!
While one of the primary functions of your home is to protect you from the elements, inviting natural elements into your home helps you and your kids feel more one with the planet. Let in as much natural light as possible to improve the overall ambience of your home. When it comes to your mental health, the bonus is two-fold. Not only are you reducing the energy costs of artificial light, but it gives your mood a boost, too.
Your kids may even be more likely to volunteer for earth-friendly initiatives if you’ve maximized your view of the outdoors!
Lights, Lights, Lights
On the subject of natural light, we’re pretty lucky to live in a society where they even exist. We don’t necessarily need to think about things like switching off the lights or television because they’re cheap to run. But it’s not just in dollars that we pay for the convenience of leaving lights on. We also pay in terms of damage to the planet.
Help your kids get into the habit of conserving energy and embracing natural light during the daytime. If you’re not going to be using the device or in that room for five or more minutes, switch it off.
We do this in our home and encourage the kids to flip the switch as they leave the room. We even get the baby involved because what baby doesn’t love playing with the light switch?
I didn’t realize just how much stuff we tend to collect until we moved from our two bedroom apartment into our first home. I’d never have believed we even fit that much into such a small space. When you think about the environmental cost of making and shipping all of it, it can really be brutal for the planet.
Instead of buying everything new, teach your kids the love of consignment and antiquing. We love to make a day of visiting consignment shops or going to the nearest antique store. The kids especially love the antique store where everything seems to have a story. I like to think of upcycled goods as things that still have a lot of love to give. These old pieces of furniture have been given a new lease on life by my family. They often still look great, are much more affordable, and have only a minimal impact on the earth. It’s a win-win-win situation.
In the Cupboards
If all you purchase are specialized cleaning products, you may find your cabinets overrun by the sheer number of chemicals. Switching away from harmful chemicals is a step in the right direction and can allow your kids to get even more hands on with cleaning. Even something as ordinary as your dishsoap can do magic on nearly every surface, and it’s as gentle as it is tough.
We made the switch to more earth-friendly products when my middle daughter was a toddler, and it’s worth taking a look at switching out your chemical-laden cleaning products for ones that use natural ingredients. Just about any product you currently use has a greener alternative available. Just take a look at Clean Happens who offers earth-friendly dishwasher gels, laundry detergents, and floor cleaners among other items. Products that are good for the planet are also generally better for your health, too, since they don’t release any toxic substances.
I’m not saying don’t put baby locks on the cleaning product cupboard, but by making the switch to greener cleaning, you’re one step closer to a greener home overall for you and your kids.
Your home isn’t just the four walls and roof of your property. You may also have an exterior portion in your front and back yard. Rather than just having the standard grass lawn, start incorporating additional plants into your yard. Learn to love the dandelions that turn into little wishes for your kids to blow and hunt for four leaf clovers in the clover patch. These traditional weeds can be a child’s dream, and you’ll be making one more earth-friendly move by keeping the weed killer off your lawn.
For even more fun with your kids, get a vegetable patch underway. You’ll spend more time outdoors, and it is a learning experience for your children. Most importantly, you’ll be able to grow your own vegetables—hello budget savings! It’s weirdly satisfying to have a vegetable on your plate that you know you created.
Not everything that you use to decorate your home has to come from a home decor store, which will always have a large carbon footprint attached to it. Instead, use natural touches from the outdoors to brighten up your home like pine cones, jars of sand, and rocks. I love putting dry eucalyptus from old flower arrangements in vases around my home, and I protect my house plants from my cats using rocks and crystals (usually mica and granite) that the kids have brought me as presents.
It’s a simple yet effective way bring the outdoors into your home. It even teaches your kids how you can bring your love of the planet inside. I have a few larger indoor plants spread throughout my home (they improve the air quality and also boost your mood) where I showcase my kids’ rock collection, but even having small plants in a small space is beneficial.
While I’m not saying to attempt a no waste lifestyle with kids, reducing the amount you throwaway is a great way to teach planet saving actions to your kids. Instead of tossing that broken toy, extend the life of the material by recycling it. We make up shark attack stories to explain broken doll legs and recently turned a broken bookshelf into a dress-up cabinet. The kids loved getting in on the DIY action, and it taught them that not all things are trash.
Even your waste food can be used as compost; eggshells are perfect snail and slug deterrents for your outdoor plants, and coffee grounds are amazing additions to your compost bin. Our curbside trash pile shrunk by almost half just by recycling, upcycling, and composting more.
Low Energy Usage
By far one of the best things you can do for the earth is to reduce your energy consumption. I mentioned lights and turning off devices, but there have also been great strides in home energy products recently. One way to reduce your energy footprint is to switch to energy efficient appliances as you replace old ones.
Another effective way to reduce how much energy you’re using is to invest in a smart meter which will show you how much energy you’re using in real time. If you see that it’s creeping up to an unsustainable level, you’ll be able to take action right away. Remember that insulation is also one of the best (and most affordable) additions to the home you can make.
The shift toward owning more planet-friendly homes has already begun, and it won’t be long before all properties are more in tune with what’s good for the environment. Get ahead of the curve and educate the next generation of planet saving humans by getting your kids involved every step of the way.