You hear about Green Living everywhere and you think you are doing a good job, right? What is a Green Living family anyways?
A green living family is one which consumes a minimal amount of resources and produces a limited amount of waste in their daily life. Sustainability is practiced as much as possible and the family strives to reduce the negative impact on their community.
How many resources do you use every day? Do you ever consider how much trash and waste you created yesterday?
Green living families will use significantly less energy than the normal family. According to the US Energy Information Agency, the average per person uses 12.2kWh of electricity, per person per day! That was just in 2019. An average air conditioner/heat pump uses much more energy than that per day. If you already know you use less electricity than that per day, great! But if you had no idea then this may be an area to improve on. Air conditioners and heaters are one of the main users of electricity in the home. Look for ways to cool down with fans and explore energy efficient alternatives.
Did you take the trash out yesterday? How much do you think it weighed? If it was less than 4.5lbs/per person (2kg/person), then you just might be a green living family. But there are more ways to reduce your impact with a little awareness and work. Do you prepare your own lunch or do you eat out often? Eating out often may create significant waste. Preparing your own meals may reduce this and help you lead a healthier life. Green living families are most likely eating out less and using their own containers to reduce waste.
How do you picture a Green Family out on the Town
A typical green family is going to be out in public with their own water bottles, containers or reusable bags if they are shopping or eating out. When we go out I like to observe other families to learn any new habits or ways to improve my awareness. To be honest, I had no idea what a green life was all about. It’s easy to talk about, but I realized that it is a way of life and the whole family needs to participate. This is the only way to live, grow and learn new ways to improve your community and life. There are also so many learning opportunities with your kids. If you are homeschooling for example, daily chores and activities provide real examples of how a green living lifestyle is possible.
Green Families are walking and biking more, how do you get around town? If you think driving rather than taking a bus or public transport is the way, then you may be surprised. Certainly this depends on where you live, but ideally you would live, work and shop near to where your home is. A well planned out green lifestyle will take this into consideration. Commuting to work or school for many families could take hours from your day, as well as use lots of energy. Oh, you drive an electric car? Well, that may help in the long run if you can afford it. How about an electric scooter or other greener forms of transport?
In 2019 as I considered losing weight and trying to walk at least 10,000 steps a day I was surprised to find that it was difficult to walk that many steps unless I parked far away. When I started re-thinking my lifestyle, I realized that there were many ways to not only stay healthy but also walk more, bike more or drive less. In my city, we will soon have a new subway system and I can’t wait for that because it means I can get rid of one car from my family. There are also bike share options all over the city and I can easily use one of these to get around town and ride a bus if needed. For me I connected a healthy lifestyle to a greener way of life. This has helped lead me on a path to promote healthy and greener habits for me and my family.
Can you live a green sustainable life even with kids?
This weekend we did do so much walking that my legs are sore. But the main reason was that we went hiking in the mountains nearby. Going out to enjoy the great outdoors is one of the best ways we have for family time together. It is also one of the best ways to instill in our kids a sense of the green living lifestyle. Yes, that’s right, we went camping! Certainly I know it’s not for everyone, but it is an exercise in teamwork, planning and living with limited resources. We have to pack hundreds of things together, get to the campsite and unpack. Then setup, then cook and by the evening you feel ready to go to sleep before 9pm. Because living in the forest is a hard life, right?
After 1 or 2 days of camping in the forest we are ready to get back to our home in the city. Sleeping in a nice comfortable bed beats an airbed any day. But to be honest it wasn’t hot and we did not even need an air conditioner. We set up in a shaded area and the breeze was significant enough to be very pleasant. But my point is that when we live with limited resources, we adapt. Just like when humans really didn’t have any of the home living conveniences, we did know how to live sustainable lives. And it was all without any electricity.
Camping for our family makes us really appreciate nature and green living. And we have so many opportunities to explain the better way of living and of using less. When you go camping the less you take, the less you need to haul all around and the less waste you create. You save time, money and your legs. In my family, camping is one of the most fun green living activities all rolled up in one. Everywhere you turn to while camping is a living education for couples as well as kids. As we learned, make sure to add “dressing” when you prepare salad, otherwise you will be enjoying lettuce all by itself!
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle can be taught at an early age
If you are around any people that are living sustainably or practicing green living, you will hear these words used often. This has to do with the waste hierarchy. With kids they are eager to learn about the garbage man right? Well, we can use this to our advantage and teach them about how to reduce, reuse and recycle. With my kids we certainly upcycle and reuse many toys and clothes around the house. With my older kids we didn’t practice green living because as I mentioned, that was not always my lifestyle. I was never around many people who had a green way of life.
But nowadays I use opportunities like collecting and sorting materials in our own home for recycling. In our community, we have a recycle center where we can return glass, paper, plastic, cardboard, and old home appliances. This is great for teaching my son who is only 5 about materials, what they are made from and how to recycle or reuse. Green living is all about passing on our experience to our children so they also can lead a more thoughtful life.