10 Ways to be a Greener Family

Some easy (seriously) ways for more earth-friendly family life

By Susannah Ferguson, publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo. April 9, 2024

Tired of reduce, reuse, recycle? We feel your pain. But caring for the Earth is a top priority. Our kids and grandkids deserve their own chances to make questionable fashion moves, misguided career calls, and poor relationship choices.

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

1. Get Off Junk Mail Lists

Save the Earth and your cluttered counter by signing up to get off junk mail lists. This one is a win-win and takes all of 2 minutes.

Margarita Khamidulina | Canva

2. Buy Secondhand

For most parents dealing with overnight growth spurts, this one’s probably already on your radar. Save ridiculous amounts of money and make a difference? We’re in.

3. Borrow or Rent Instead of Buying

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

4. Opt In to Renewable Energy Suppliers

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

Monstera Production | Pexels via Canva

5. Change Your Diet  

Ok, ok, this is kind of big, but hear us out. Cutting down on meat and dairy is good for your health and the planet’s. Start slow with a few meals a week, or cut down on the biggest climate offenders. Veggie burgers are pretty tasty these days.

6. Just Say No to Single-use 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’re doing your part. Not so hard now, is it?

Karolina Grabowska | Pexels via Canva

7. Kick the Bottled Water Habit

We love bottled water because it’s 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.

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 are you really gonna notice if it’s 75 or 76?

9. Buy Local

Buying local usually means less packaging, less transportation energy used, and it’s just 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, the next week the whole bunch is turning black on the counter. Been there. But maybe try buying a little less and planning a little more. Instead of opening up the jar of applesauce for an after school snack, slice up the apple that’s shelf life is dwindling. And when you do have waste, because you will, try composting it. Baby steps, people.

Susannah Ferguson is the publisher of Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo.