12 Painless Ways To Be a Greener Family

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12 Painless Ways to be a Greener FamilyEvery morning, after I’ve scooped my morning yogurt into a bowl already filled with fruit and granola, I have an important decision to make.

Am I going to rinse out and recycle the empty yogurt container, or save a few seconds in my busy morning and toss it in the trash?

Some of you might be horrified that I even consider pitching it, but the truth is that I struggle with this daily. Deep down I believe in being environmentally friendly, but in the moment I sometimes choose the easier option because life is hectic, and I also believe in cutting myself some slack.

I’m no psychologist, but I think the internal discomfort this causes me is called cognitive dissonance.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I’ve bought into the myth that being green requires a complete lifestyle overhaul.

I’ve convinced myself that if I truly showed more care to the environment, it would totally alter my schedule, my day-to-day activities, and my budget.

But that’s not really true.

While a total lifestyle overhaul is probably ideal, small changes—painless changes—can actually add up to a big impact on the environment.

Here are some of the practically effortless adjustments we’re making in our family to show a bit more care to our earth.

12 Painless Ways to Be a Greener Family

1. Ditch the disposable stuff…for good this time.

Disposable grocery bags, water bottles, coffee cups—they’ve got to go. Reusable options are so widely available at this point, and there are often even financial incentives for using them! (Like a few cents off at the grocery store or coffee shop.)

It’s all about creating a habit. Commit to using reusables for the next month, and by the end it will feel like second nature.

2. Spend family time outdoors.

It’s well known that kids learn more from what we parents do than from what we say. So if we want to inspire in them a lifelong appreciation for nature, we can’t just talk about it—we’ve got to model it.

The easiest way to do that? Hang out outside with them. They’ll learn to love the earth simply because of the fond memories they’ll have of being outside kicking the soccer ball with mom or gardening with dad.

3. Toss the tube.

The toilet paper tube, that is.

12 Painless Ways to be a Greener Family

Did you know that the cardboard tube inside a roll of toilet paper is actually completely unnecessary? Yet the average household uses about 150 of these tubes each year!

12 Painless Ways to be a Greener Family

Scott Tube-Free toilet paper gets rid of that useless cardboard but without sacrificing quality or convenience. It’s nice and soft, and unrolls just like any other toilet paper…just without the damage to the environment.

Switching to tube-free toilet paper is such a simple change, yet it makes a big impact. This hilarious prank—which uses 66,000 tubes, the amount Americans go through in just over 2 minutes!—demonstrates just that.

Ready to toss the tube? Find Scott Tube-Free at a store near you, and make sure to grab your Scott Tube-Free coupon for $1 off!

12 Painless Ways to be a Greener Family

4. Unplug in more ways than one.

We know it’s important to unplug metaphorically every once in awhile, banning our digital devices in favor of distraction-free family time.

But it’s just as important to unplug literally. When those chargers or appliances aren’t in use, get into the habit of pulling the plug to save a bit of energy.

5. Wait for a full load.

Partial loads waste water and energy, so put off running the dishwasher or washing machine until you have enough dirty dishes or laundry to fill it up. If you’ve got a household full of kiddos, it shouldn’t take long!

6. While you’re at it, go for cold.

Wash your laundry in cold water whenever possible. It’s such a simple change, and you won’t even notice the difference, since today’s washing machines can get a lot of stains out even on the cold setting.

7. Do double-sided.

We’re working to make sure every single piece of paper in our house gets used on both sides. It’s really just a matter of training yourself always to select “two-sided” on your printer settings.

And if you do have some scrap paper that’s only printed on one side, give it your kids! No doubt they’ll turn it into pretty pictures or use it for cutting practice.

8. Turn off the tap.

Get everyone—kids and adults alike—in the habit of turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth. It takes little to no effort but saves a ton of water in the long run.

9. Read about it.

Books are a powerful way to open up a conversation with your kids about the importance of taking care of the environment. Enough damage has been done to the earth already; we need to make sure the next generation is more careful and considerate of the world around them.

Some great book ideas? The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry, and The Earth Book by Todd Parr.

10. Consolidate your errands.

If you must drive all over town, at least try to do it in one long trip instead of several shorter ones. Besides, if you’re going to all the trouble of loading the kids into the car, packing the diaper bag, and blasting “Let It Go” from the radio, you might as well get more bang for your buck (or more errands for your hassle).

11. Slow down.

While you’re out running those errands, make a conscious decision to drive the speed limit. It’s less risky and teaches your children an important lesson about road safety—plus theoretically, driving the speed limit (especially on the highway) cuts both fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.

12. Declutter your mailbox.

All that junk mail goes straight from your mailbox to the recycling bin anyway, right? So stop it from coming to your house in the first place.

There are a few services which make it easier to unsubscribe from catalogs and other unnecessary mail. Check out CatalogChoice.org, 41pounds.org, and OptOutPrescreen.com to opt out of all those pre-screened credit card offers.


What’s one painless way YOUR family could be a little bit greener?

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