Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Six ways to celebrate this Earth Day!

When Earth Day was first celebrated in 1969, the organizers may as well have called it "Hippie-Dippy Day." In the early days of this celebration, metropolis-dwellers, ecologists, activists, and university students gathered for annual "environmental teach-ins." Your average American housewife? Was probably celebrating her daily cook-and-clean-in.

But today, after decades of our nation collectively spiraling further and further into consumerist habits that made our landfills look like Everest, even the most corn-fed, countrified, heartland family is taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint (or would that be "feetprint"?).

Here's our list of six simple steps you can take to green your family's lifestyle AND be a positive influence on your community :

1. Celebrate Real Diaper Week. It's your opportunity to share your reasons for cloth diapering with everyone from your pediatrician to your mailman! Show your cutest cloth diapers off in public, refer someone to your local cloth diaper retailer, get your friends together and ask your favorite baby boutique to carry cloth diapers. Let everyone know that cloth diapers are a real option for real families! The official "rules" are here.  
2. Recycle. If you're here in Lake Charles, where our home office is, you know that we don't have curbside recycling... yet. But we do have a drop-off location that's open every day of the week! It's located off Nelson Rd. near the soccer fields--signs lead the way.

What my little family did this year was pick a location in our house (our computer/music room) and put stackable, clear plastic bins with lids, labeled "Aluminum," "Plastics," and "Paper," in a corner. When a bin is full, I empty it into the required garbage bag, load the kids into the minivan, and head to the drop-off point. That's it! No trying to find out where the Team Green truck is. 

If you're lucky enough to live in a locale with curbside pick-up, your challenge is to write to your city council and thank them for their efforts to keep your city clean and green! Let them know that you recycle, and that the city's recycling program represents tax dollars well spent.

3. Upcycle! Upcycling is reusing with style... and it's a Pinterest-addict's dream come true! There's an old World War II-era saying that our friends at the Sulphur, La.-based business America Make Do have adopted as their inspirational tag line: Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. 

But wearing it out doesn't have to mean letting your household goods go ugly or threadbare. Slightly holey blue jeans become custom baby bibs and junior handbags. Dad's worn-at-the-hem dress shirts become tiny dresses. With the help of a pair of scissors, a serger, and some pretty thread, old curtains become heavy-duty napkins, frayed towels become a new set of dishrags, and old t-shirts become baby wipes. Why create waste by throwing any perfectly useable piece of cloth (or glass, or aluminum, or, well, anything) out?  

Compost bucket with filtered lid.
4. Compost. You'll decrease your food waste immediately! Collect your fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, and coffee grinds in a bucket or bowl to start your compost. Composting is a great way to create rich soil for your flower beds or vegetable garden, and it makes for significantly less trash in your house. In fact, if you're recycling, upcycling, cloth diapering, and composting, you may find that you have almost NO household trash! 
Our compost, ready to be turned.

5. Cut down on excess packaging. Make the choice in the grocery store to buy the brand that's both affordable and uses minimal packaging. Buying in bulk usually costs less per unit and involves less excess plastic and cardboard. Buy as much as you can from local growers, and bring your own reusable containers (think Tupperware) to the farmer's market to store rice, oats, and flour in. Finally, e-mail your favorite brands, or find their Facebook pages, and request that they eliminate excess packaging!

6. Speaking of groceries... BYOB! Bring your own bags, that is! This is a simple and convenient way to keep plastic out of landfills. Reusable cloth bags can (and should!) be washed and dried with your clothes or towels to keep them clean and free of bacterial contaminants. Woven string bags can expand to hold up to 40 lbs. of goods, and simple canvas totes can come in all your favorite colors and fun prints! In fact...

If you're one of the first 25 participants to make your way to the Great Cloth Diaper Change - Lake Charles, you'll receive a FREE one, full of swag, compliments of eLeMeNO-Pee!

Chances are you're already doing at least one of these things. As part of Real Diaper Week and leading up to Earth Day, won't you share this on your Facebook wall, and tell your friends how many of the listed items you can check off! You just may inspire someone to green up their household.

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