Like most moms, we want what is best for our children and our families. After becoming a mom, I really put an emphasis on my health and well being. Being healthy and strong for my family became so important to me. Also gaining importance for my husband and I was living in a healthy environment for our family. Figuring out what we can do to make our earth better quickly became a top priority for us. We’ve slowly been building ‘greener’ habits into our daily lives so that we can reduce our carbon footprint. And we’ve incorporated ways for the kids to help so we can reduce our carbon footprint as a family.
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What is a carbon Footprint?
What’s meant by your carbon footprint?
As defined by the Oxford dictionary, your carbon footprint is:
“The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.”
What causes carbon footprint?
Your carbon footprint shows your impact on the environment. Waste and energy consumption contribute to your carbon footprint. Driving, using plastic products, frequent flights, and using hot water to wash your clothes are examples of activities that contribute to your carbon footprint.
How does carbon footprint affect the environment?
Large carbon footprints can negatively impact the environment by affecting:
- Greenhouse gases
- Climate change
- Pollution of air and water
Learning how to reduce your carbon Footprint
Why Reduce your carbon Footprint?
I began to care more about the earth now that I’m raising children in it. My husband and I want to set a good example for our kids by doing what we can to make positive changes in the environment.
How do you reduce your carbon footprint?
There are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Finding out ways you can reduce your emissions and waste will help you reduce your footprint.
Sometimes we don’t know a lot about a certain subject. And often times, if it doesn’t appear to affect us or give us reason to learn about it, then it’s not on our radar.
So if you aren’t familiar with your carbon footprint or what you can do to reduce it, then here are some ways you can find out more about it:
Estimate your carbon footprint using a carbon footprint calculator. Then use this tool to see how you can work to reduce your footprint.
“The More You Know” commercials have been on TV since I was a kids. And one of their recent commercials grabbed my attention. They said that by 2050 there will be “more straws in the ocean fish”
What?! How crazy is that?! I had no idea. But after hearing that, I vowed to cut down if not eliminate my straw usage.
I love these commercials because I think they’re very helpful—sometimes the more you know, the more you can do. I believe it’s not that people don’t want to change or make a difference, they often don’t know how or why they need to.
The More You Know Straw Commercial
Friends and family
I was grabbing coffee with friend after barre class one Sunday when I reached for a plastic stirring straw on the counter. She explained how she stopped using straws once she recently saw a documentary about how much plastic is used and isn’t good for the earth.
I appreciated my friend’s insight and was curious to learn and educate myself more on the matter.
Ways we reduce carbon footprint as a family
Since having kids and realizing how much waste we accumulate like plastic bottles, food containers, etc., we decided to become more conscious of our kids’ future and the world they’ll live in.
Our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint is another way of spending quality time. And working together as a family towards this cause makes us proud of our efforts and contribution to the earth.
We lovingly refer to my husband as “Captain Planet.” It was one of his favorite shows growing up as a kid. He’s the one in our family who has brought awareness and encouraged us to start doing more to care for the environment.
We now bring our recyclables weekly to the recycling center and sort it as a family. The kids look forward to it now and it’s become a fun family activity.
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Stop buying and using straws
Another easy change was to stop buying plastic straws. The kids liked the ones with the expandable bendy necks, but when we found out they aren’t good for the environment, we decided it wasn’t worth it. Instead we have since purchased stainless steel reusable ones.
Turn water off while brushing teeth
This was a hard habit for me to break, but just a small effort can save gallons of water. I try to be mindful when the kids brush their teeth as well. Wasting water not only wastes money, but also the effort and energy it takes to pump and treat the water we use and drink.
We keep phones, computers and electronics unplugged until we use them. Instead of keeping them plugged in all day, I’ll plug them in to charge them and then leave them unplugged until they need to be charged again.
Leaving devices plugged in even if we aren’t using them, and even if they’re fully charged still draws energy called “vampire power.”
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Ditch plastic water bottles
Again, after reading and seeing how much plastic is accumulating on our earth, we replaced plastic water bottles with reusable Stainless Steel Water Bottles.
I was so used to having plastic water bottles around the house. They were so convenient for entertaining, taking on the road, etc., so this was another change I wasn’t looking forward to.
But we bought some fun new S’well bottles and honestly, the change hasn’t been bad.
Mindful of the thermostat
Being mindful of the thermostat is an easy way to save energy.
We’d like the thermostat set lower in the summer, but in the Texas heat, we’d have the air running all day.
So to conserve energy we had a large ceiling fan installed in our living room. This helps cool the house down and also helps to circulate the cool air from the air conditioner. The blackout curtains we installed help shield us from excessive sunlight and heat as well.
In the winter we bundle up more in warmer clothes or use blankets so that the heater doesn’t run as much.
We share one car
My husband and I share a car. It’s one of the ways we save money as a family. But it’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint too.
There’s less gas and emissions coming from another car. Not to mention the materials saved on creating another car to be used.
While it can be inconvenient at times to carpool and shuffle schedules, we’ve been managing for four years now. An added benefit is that we usually qualify for HOV access on highways.
We will probably need to buy another car in the future but we are trying to put that off as long as possible.
By local and in-season produce
We try to buy local and in season produce. This way the produce hasn’t had to be shipped in from a distance. And we try to cut down on buying herbs and certain vegetables from the grocery store by planting our own in our porch garden.
Line dry clothes
After looking for ways to save energy, I learned that running a clothes dryer uses wayyy more energy than a washing machine.
Since I already line dry my clothes, I’ve started line drying some of their clothes as well because it’s a simple change I can make. Sometimes I’m in a rush and need a certain outfit and use the dryer but it’s something I’m really trying to cut down on.
Since we don’t line dry our clothes outside, I love the portable drying racks I have in our laundry room.
Replace plastic grocery bags with reusable bags
This one is harder for me to remember. I usually am halfway to the grocery store and realize I forgot our reusable grocery bags. My husband collected a handful of reusable grocery bags that we keep in our laundry room since it’s right by our front door.
After we unload our groceries, we put the reusable grocery bags back for the next trip to the store . . . as long as I remember.
Recycle plastic bags we do get from other stores
When we do get plastic bags from the grocery store (spur of the moment grocery run–or I forgot the reusable ones) we save them and bring them back to the grocery store.
They have a recycling program for plastic grocery bags so we make sure to return them if we find ourselves bringing them home.
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Recycle your child’s car seat
We dropped her infant car seat off to be recycled in the bin at the front counter and received 20% off on the new car seat of our choice.
I think it’s great that companies are offering these discounts and rewards for doing something to benefit the earth.
Grow your own herbs
We have a plantar on our patio that the kids and I gave my husband for Father’s Day a few years ago. He grows herbs, vegetables and a few flowers out there. And the kids have fun helping him water them and check on the plants’ progress.
You’re helping the environment because:
- Plants absorb carbon dioxide
- You prevent making a trip to the grocery store
- You save the carbon emissions from having produce shipped to your grocery store
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Also the products used to make them can potentially get into the water. So becoming fully potty trained is one way we can definitely make a positive impact on the environment.
Purchase blackout curtains
I originally purchased blackout curtains for the kids’ rooms to keep the light out when they had a hard time going to sleep in the summer when it was still light out.
But then I also noticed their rooms were cooler than the rest of our place. So we added blackout curtains to other rooms in our house that get a lot of sun which keeps the place cooler and saves energy (and money!).
Wash laundry in cold water
We’ve been doing this for a few years now. Most of my nice clothes say to wash in cold water anyway, so I just wash all the clothes in cold water.
This is a super easy way to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. You’re washing your clothes anyway. . . so just make the water cold. This will save on the energy and carbon emissions used to heat the water.
Teach kids to turn lights off when leave a room
My parents would say this all the time “Turn the light off in the hallway!” or “Turn the light in your room off if you’re done in there!” And I’d think “Sheesh, what’s the big deal?!”
Well now I get it.
While they were probably trying to save money on the electric bill, it’s a simple habit that can save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. I’ve incorporated this habit in my own life now that I’m an adult. And we are trying to teach our kids from a young age as well.
My kids will leave the lights in their rooms and closets on long after they’re done playing in there, only for me to discover this hours later. So we’ve been reminding them to keep lights off when you leave the room or when you’re done playing.
Kids are smart and learn quickly. We teach them ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, so why not teach them to turn lights off? I’m hoping my
nagging repetition pays off;)
I know there’s always going to be more things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, but at least we have gotten started. Even the small things we do add up over time.
And slowly we will continue doing our part to make a difference and figure out more ways to keep reducing our carbon footprint.
Each family is unique and you may be able to find different ways of reducing your carbon footprint. I hope this post inspired you to learn more and figure out ways you and your family can do things to protect our environment too!
Is there anything I didn’t mention that YOU already do to reduce your carbon footprint? I’d love to hear in the comments!
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