10 Seriously Easy Ways to be a Greener Family

🌎 Ideas for Earth Day and year-round

By Susannah Ferguson, publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo. April 14, 2024

Tired of reduce, reuse, recycle? We feel your pain. 

But caring for the Earth is a top priority. Our kids and grandkids deserve the chance to make questionable fashion moves, misguided career calls, and poor relationship choices.

So, let's all buckle down and make some real changes that make a difference. And no, we're not talking about something drastic like moving off-grid or giving up your morning coffee. A few conscious daily choices can add up when we work together.

1. Get Off Junk Mail Lists.

Sign up to get off junk mail lists and save both the Earth and your cluttered counter. This is a win-win that takes only two minutes.

2. Buy Secondhand.

For most parents dealing with overnight growth spurts, this is probably already on your radar. Saving ridiculous amounts of money and making a difference? We're in.

Margarita Khamidulina | Canva

3. Borrow or Rent Instead of Buying

Are you finally getting around to that home improvement project? Instead of running out and buying a tile saw you'll never use again, borrow one from a friend or rent one for the weekend. This will keep your garage and the Earth a little cleaner.

4. Opt Into Renewable Energy Suppliers

In some parts of the country, residents can pay a slight premium (usually a few cents per kilowatt hour) to purchase their energy from solar, wind, or other green power sources. One small phone call could make a massive difference in your home's carbon footprint.

5. Change Your Diet  

Okay, this is kind of big, but hear us out. Cutting down on meat and dairy is good for your health as well as the planet's. Start slowly by going meatless just one day a week to cut down on one of the biggest climate offenders. Veggie burgers are pretty tasty these days.

Monstera Production | Pexels via Canva

6. Say No to Single-Serve Packaging

We get it; this one is tough for parents. Fruit snacks, crackers, juice boxes? They're the staples of this phase of life.

But try tossing that huge carton of crackers in the cart along with a few reusable snack bags, and you'll be doing your part. It's not so hard now, is it?

7. Kick the Bottled Water Habit

Bottled water may be convenient and easy, but it's also a top climate killer. Break out all those reusable containers gathering dust and start using them. Just gotta do it.

Karolina Grabowska | Pexels via Canva

8. Dial it Down (or up)

We like to be comfortable as much as the next guy, but raising your thermostat a degree or two in the summer and lowering it in the winter makes a real difference. You'll save money and be greener and probably won't even notice a one- or two-degree difference.

9. Buy Local

Buying locally usually means less packaging and less transportation energy, and it's good for your community. We don't all have access to or resources to support local food and products, but if you do, it's a great choice.

10. Cut Down on Food Waste

One week, the kids eat all the bananas in two days, but the next week, the whole bunch is turning black on the counter. Been there.

Buy a little less and plan a little more. Instead of opening the jar of applesauce for an after-school snack, slice up the apple whose shelf life is dwindling. Freeze brown bananas to use in smoothies or bake muffins. And when you do have waste, because you will, try composting it. 

Baby steps, people.