Protecting our planet may sound like something that requires a huge global effort. But if we all do our part, even changes at a family level can make a difference.
To help you find ways that your family can do their utmost to control their carbon footprint, reduce pollution and waste, conserve water, and leave a healthier planet for the next generation, we’ve got some tips that you can start on today.
Reduce, reuse, and reycle
The three R’s of reduce, reuse, and recycle are some of the most important for the health of our planet. They can also help to save us money! More and more people are conscious of recycling rubbish to lessen the impact on landfill and to make the most of resources we already have, but don’t forget about reducing and reusing which come before the need to recycle.
- Shop smarter by using a meal plan and shopping list to only buy what you need and reduce food waste
- Choose products with minimal or recyclable packaging or bulk buy using your own containers
- Choose locally grown or made products to reduce mileage
- Buy products made from recycled materials
- If you can, buy second-hand rather than new
- Look to shop with businesses with transparent supply chains and sustainable practices, who are producing ethical reports
- Fix broken items rather than throwing them away – local communities often have workshops to help fix household items
- If an item is still usable, consider donating or selling it
- Upcycle furniture to give it a new use
- Refill a drink bottle rather than buying bottled water
- Use reusable shopping bags, containers, and straws rather than single-use plastics
- Use washable cloths to clean rather than wipes.
- Utilise local council recycling collection to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, tins, cans, and plastics (check with your council regarding what they accept)
- There are also specific collection schemes for soft plastics, old mobile phones, printer cartridges, batteries, e-waste, and more which can be found with a quick Google search
- Several brands also provide free recycling – visit the Terracycle website to find out more.
- Compost fruit and vegetable scraps
Kiwis love getting about in their cars, but vehicles contribute to pollution and the use of non-renewable resources.
- Plan ahead to use your vehicle as little as possible by taking just one trip to the supermarket each week or carpooling with your workmates or friends
- Create a walking bus for school kids
- Utilise public transport, walk, or cycle
- If you can, choose an electric vehicle for your next family car
Reduce energy consumption
Reducing the amount of energy that your home uses not only helps the environment, it also helps reduce your bills.
- Turn off lights and electronics when not in use
- Choose low energy lightbulbs
- When purchasing new appliances, always look for the energy star rating
- Wash your laundry in cold water and line-dry
- Only run the dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load
- Once you’ve finished cooking the dinner, pop the baking in the already warm oven and save on having to pre-heat the oven
Grow your own
Growing your own fruit and veggies is a rewarding and fun way to get the whole family involved in being eco-conscious. What could be better than fresh veggies that go straight from garden to plate? Get tips for starting your own garden here https://kidspot.co.nz/family-time/setting-up-your-first-family-veggie-garden/
Eating more plant-based meals is great for the environment, the budget, and your health! Try a couple of meat-free dinners each week.
Planting native trees is also a great way to help the planet breathe a little easier. Plant on your own property or get involved in a community project.
Conserve our water resources
Water is a precious resource for our country and planet.
- Take showers instead of baths and set a timer for those who linger a little too long!
- Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth
- Collect rainwater for watering the garden
- Only flush the three Ps. Pee, poo and paper (toilet)
- Don’t pour grease or oil down the drain
- Dispose of paint and chemicals responsibly
- Use eco-friendly household detergents
- Wash your car on the grass to help filter the runoff
For more ways to protect the environment, visit https://environment.govt.nz/what-you-can-do/take-action/
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”
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What is your family doing to reduce your carbon footprint?