Going green does not mean you have to drastically alter your lifestyle. There are dozens of small things that families can do to help conserve energy and natural resources and many of them have the added bonus of saving you money! Read on for simple ways.

photo: Herald Post via flickr

1. Bring along a spare plastic bag or two to pick up wayside recycling or garbage on walks around the neighborhood.

2. Carry reusable totes when running errands to cut back on landfill-clogging plastic (and to save money if your city charges for bags!). Stash a few in your car and a folding one in your purse.

3. Veg out! You don’t have to have a plant-based diet year round but cutting back on the consumption of meat does help conserve valuable resources. Try implementing Meatless Mondays or another meat-free meal one night a week. The kids will get a few more veggies, this way too. Check out these vegetarian and veggie-ful recipes to get inspired.

4. Buy furniture, home accessories and art from the antique market or second-hand from Craigslist. Not only will you be consuming fewer new products, but your stuff will have a story.

5. Go vintage or secondhand via consignment sales, online shops, or other resale groups. Kids grow so fast, most secondhand clothing looks brand new! You can also repurpose gently used clothing this way (and possibly make a few bucks in the process).

photo: Marc De’ath via flickr 

6. Turn off the lights. Simply making the rounds and flipping the switch has a huge impact on energy usage.

7. Plastic containers from deli meat and cheese work great in lunch boxes, and cottage cheese containers are awesome for holding pasta and salad for lunch.

8. Ditch the chemicals around the house and opt for some non-toxic homemade cleaners that are simple and inexpensive.

9. Wash, rinse, and reuse plastic bags.

10. Most of our kiddos need a night light on, so make sure to use an LED light. It can be on all night without taking nearly as much energy as a conventional light.

11. Dispose of old paint and electronics the responsible way: check with your city’s garbage pick-up provider to see if they have days or drop-off sites. Most Goodwill stores accept these items for recycling.

photo: Jessica Lucia via flickr


12. Use reusable/refillable water bottles all day, every day!

13. Buy rechargeable batteries and be sure to dispose of old batteries properly.

14. Cut up old bath towels and tee shirts for cleaning instead of using paper towels.

15. Don’t leave the water running when brushing teeth. (We’re looking at you!)

16. Chose one trip a day to take by bike (or walk) instead of car.

photo: Erin Feher

17. Buy from the market’s bulk section to avoid unnecessary packaging. Do you really need individual containers of olives or cheese sticks when you can buy in bulk and pack it yourself?

18. Take an hour or less and switch all your bills to paperless.

19. Save plastic to-go containers and make mini-greenhouses for starting seeds.

20. Check the family car’s tire pressure once a month. Having the right amount will increase gas mileage by three percent (woot!).

21. Plan on stepping away from the keypad? Switch your computer to “sleep” mode to save energy.

photo: Alexas_Fotos via pixabay

22. Tote your own refillable coffee mug. Many coffee shops even charge less for patrons who bring their own mug.

23. Load up the dishwasher and don’t worry about pre-rinsing (Note: this doesn’t work as well with old appliances!).

24. Avoid products with palm oil. Rainforests are still being devestated in order to plant and produce palm oil. Be warned! It’s found in everything from chocolate to shampoo. Read more here.

25. Use coffee grounds in a compost pile or under acidity-loving plants like azaleas.

26. And speaking of compost, if you don’t have the space or yard to start your own, see if your city offers a composting program or try and start one at your kid’s school.

27. Share your old magazines with friends or doctor’s offices. It’s always a good idea to black out your address first. And if no one want them, recycle them!

28. Use cloth napkins instead of paper. Not only will you save trees but you’ll look extra fancy.

photo: Tomono via flickr 

29. Designate one glass per day per person and reuse, instead of grabbing a new cup each time a kid needs a drink.

30. Buy reusable snack bags and containers to cut down on plastic bags.

31. Sell the old cellphones taking up space in your desk drawers. You can send them to usell.com for cash.

32. Houseplants are natural air filters, so grow one in your kiddos room!

33. Dry some of your clothes in sunlight or air. Even if they still need to “finish” in the dryer, you’ll save electricity and gas by letting natural elements do half the job.

34. Cut up plastic six-pack rings! You probably heard about this when you were a kid but it’s still a problem and it’s an easy thing to do.

34. Talk with your kids about why going green is so important. You’ll be creating future conservationists!

How will you reduce, reuse and recycle this Earth Day? Share with us in a Comment below!

— Gabby Cullen, Amber Guetebier, Erin Feher, Kristina Moy, Chantal Lamers