Eco Tips for Families from the FirstSchool Garden

Want some good news today? How about this: YOU can have a positive impact on our environment every single day! Read on for a few tips on how you can weave green into your days and check out our resource section to connect with other organizations that can take you even further.

Everyday Green Tips

  • Choose veggies to save some serious water! On average, it takes 30 gallons of water to produce a pound of potatoes, but it can take between 2,500 and 5,000 gallons for a pound of beef.
  • Make your daily caffeine fix green! Support birds, wildlife and small farmers by purchasing shade-grown, fair-trade-certified coffee at the local grocery store. Donbt see it? Ask the manager if theybll consider stocking some.
  • Cat lovers can go green with litters made from renewable, biodegradable ingredients such as recycled newsprint. Some products cost the same as conventional strip-mined clay litters, but without the environmental impacts.
  • Choose toilet paper, tissue and paper towel brands made from recycled paper. Many common brands use fiber from old-growth boreal trees from Canada that will take hundreds of years to regenerate.

Save Money

  • You donbt have to break the bank going green. Instead of purchasing new green cleaners, dig around in your cabinets. Diluted vinegar is a perfect surface and glass cleaner, and borax or baking soda will scrub away grease stains or clean tubs and tiles. No chemicals means no gloves needed, either!
  • Clean your dryerbs lint filter to improve its energy efficiency by up to 30 percent.
  • Did you know therebs a free typeface called Ecofont that can cut your printerbs ink consumption by 20 percent? Download it today and start saving!
  • Buy refurbished ink cartridges and electronics instead of brand-new gear. Reduce e-waste and enjoy great quality while you save a buck: In addition to the half-price cost, many refurbished products have to meet rigorous standards before they can go on store shelves.
  • Cut the grass b and we mean cut it out. Lawns consume tremendous amounts of water, pesticides and fossil fuels (from mowers and fertilizers). Replace the turf with native clovers, mosses, or other native ground covers for a drought-resistant, wildlife-friendly yard that also benefits your wallet.
  • Why purchase gift wrap when itbs just going to be torn up and thrown in the trash? Instead, wrap your presents in old magazines, newspaper cartoons, or paper bags adorned with rubber stamp decorations.
  • Looking to save water b and money b in the bathroom? In addition to installing low-flow water fixtures, place a bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water your toilet uses when you flush.
  • Enjoy electricity-free evenings. Turn off lights and unplug laptop and cell phone chargers so you can take a stroll at dusk, watch the sunset from your porch, or listen to the sounds of the city while your home grows dark. Itbs a quiet, refreshing way to spend the twilight hours.
  • An idling vehicle is one of the worst gas-wasters on the road. Turn off the engine when your car is idling for more than 30 seconds and be a bit greener whenever youbre stuck in traffic, waiting in the drive-through, or backed up during a bridge lift.

From Kitchen to Closet

  • Cut down on packaging at the grocery store. Buy dry foods from bulk bins and reuse bags when you restock. Consider skipping produce bags: A quick wash at home will clean the food, and a small stash of plastic bags can be reused to keep greens moist in the fridge.
  • Bring a glass food container and canvas tote bag to carry home any leftovers from your favorite restaurant, and just say bNo thanks!b to Styrofoam cartons and plastic bags.
  • Each year, 25 million trees become the worldbs supply of disposable chopsticks. Bring your own reusable chopsticks to restaurants and say bNo thanksb to disposables with your takeout.
  • Need new threads? Organize a gently used clothes swap with friends, neighbors and coworkers, or frequent the many secondhand and consignment stores that offer top-notch clothes at bargain-basement prices.
  • Making a big move? You can hire a green moving company to do the legwork with reusable boxes, trucks that runs on biodiesel and other sustainable business practices. An internet search for bgreen moversb should turn up options in your area.

Green Resources

  • Visit Sierra Club Green Home for simple explanations for why certain choices are better than others. You can also watch how-to videos, calculate your carbon footprint and determine if you have a truly healthy home.
  • Check out for guidance in recycling your old junk where you live.
  • Find a local farmers market or a farm that offers community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs.
  • Learn more about the positive impacts your choices can make and take eco-challenges with Center for New American Dream.

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