Pledging to turn over a new, green leaf is a noble cause, but maintaining that eco-friendly endeavor is even more important. Following are 16 tips on how you can encourage your family to go green every month of the year throughout 2011.
1 Use old holiday wrap to make recycled paper. Sprinkle flower seeds into it and bury it when spring arrives.
2 Save recyclable items and think about how they can be used for creative purposes. Before tossing those egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, buttons and ribbon scraps, encourage your child to make something for Valentine’s Day.
3 Celebrate the Earth and Dr. Seuss’s birthday with The Lorax. Read this eco-friendly classic to your kids and then talk about making good environmental choices.
4 Start an eco-friendly endeavor in your neighborhood, participate in a rally or sign a petition calling for more environmentally sound practices.
5 When you plant an organic garden, cover the soil with black and white newspaper—it will eventually biodegrade—and add a layer of mulch to keep weeds down.
6 Wash your clothes on a short, cold cycle and hang them out to dry. This saves money, energy and the life of your clothes and
7 Before leaving for vacation, unplug appliances you won’t be using and turn down the thermostat on your air conditioner and water heater.
8 Get several BPA-free water bottles for each family member to reduce landfill space and save money on plastic bottles. Find ones with a twist-off top and hook so kids can put a nametag or keychain on it.
9 Conserve water. Wash your car on the lawn. Set a rain barrel under your down spout and use the rain collected to water your plants. Turn off water when you’re brushing your teeth. And when you bathe the kids, draw one tub full of water and let them take turns getting in.
10 Before school starts, visit a recycling center or landfill so your children get a first-hand look at where trash goes. Science centers, natural history museums and nature centers teach them to appreciate and protect our natural resources, too.
11 Sign up for one of many kid-friendly environmental programs offered in the area. Then go pick up trash that has accumulated in and around your park.
12 Start a zero-waste lunch program in your school and encourage families to pack trash–free lunches in the coming year. Instead of using mini bags and bottles, buy items in bulk and place them in reusable containers. You can pack cloth napkins, too.
13 Put your child’s old artwork to good use. Have him select several theme-related ones and create a book. Place the best pieces in frames. Cut and laminate them to use as bookmarks. Or scan them onto your computer and create a screensaver.
14 Let your kids rummage through your closet or visit a thrift store to see what kind of Halloween costumes they can create. Make your own blood, bruises or scabs with kitchen items: cornstarch, syrup, shortening, cornmeal and food coloring.
15 Stop by yard sales or thrift stores to find holiday toys and save money and landfill space. When you do purchase something, look for eco-friendly items. Or give an alternative gift: Sponsor an animal from a local zoo or aquarium or adopt one from www.worldlife.org.
16 Find an organic tree farm in your area or go with a local farmer who can tell you what kind of pesticides he used. When purchasing lights, go with an LED option that doesn’t produce heat; it’ll run on one-tenth the energy of conventional lights and won’t present the fire risk of traditional bulbs.