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Thursday, April 26, 2018

15 Ways to Reduce Your Family's Carbon Footprint

Photo by Chris Potter (Flickr)

On April 22, we celebrate Earth Day. Because I'm passionate about outdoor play, my family and I plan to show our planet a little love by reducing our carbon footprint. Use these ideas to join us.

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

With a carbon footprint calculator, your family will know if you have to take small or big steps to reduce your negative impact on the environment. Ideally, our carbon footprint should total less than two tons of CO2 per year.

Reduce Trash

Almost every week, we fill our trash bin to nearly overflowing, which is way too much trash. My girls agree that we want to purchase fewer goods and reuse or recycle more items as we reduce waste.

Use Fewer Plastics

While staying hydrated is important, we plan to eliminate plastic bottles in favor of aluminum or stainless steel water bottles. Reusable grocery bags, glass food containers, and metal drinking straws also help us use fewer plastics.


My girls love playing games, so I challenged them to see if we can double the amount of stuff we recycle. They already decided to use one-sided school papers in our printer, save packaging material for holiday gift wrap, and use a local low-cost recycling program for large items.

Upcycle Craft Projects

On YouTube, my girls found hundreds of fun, crafty ways to upcycle clothing, containers, and boxes. They're excited to sew old T-shirts into grocery tote bags, transform wooden pallets into bookshelves, and turn magazines into coasters.

Walk or Bike More

By walking or biking to work and consolidating errands, we reduce emissions. My girls agree that they want to walk to school more often, and they want to ride their bikes to the grocery store, too.

Go Paperless

Between school papers, junk mail, and bills, I handle dozens of pieces of paper each day, but that will change this month. I will request digital copies of my bills and bank statements, cancel unread magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and use a memo app to track my grocery list and other notes on my phone.

Buy Sustainable Goods

At a recent home show, I saw beautiful furniture and home goods made from metal, glass, bamboo, and renewable natural fibers, materials that reduce environmental damage. The next time we need any items for our home, my girls and I will buy sustainable goods.

Replace Light Bulbs

I constantly tell my girls to turn off the lights when they leave a room. I'm also replacing our incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) options.

Shop Secondhand

Although my girls love the mall, they are also learning to love consignment and thrift stores. They appreciate reducing waste and saving money while building a cute and functional wardrobe.

Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances

Last week, my washing machine started making a funny noise. While shopping for a replacement, I'm looking for models with the Energy Star label.


We're frequent salad-eaters, but somehow, we always end up tossing leftover lettuce and tomatoes in the trash. This month, we're starting a compost bin to turn our plant scraps into food for our lawn, flower beds, and herb containers.

Unplug to Reduce Phantom Energy Use

I use my toaster oven, phone charger, and coffee maker each day, but I sometimes forget to unplug these appliances that actually use energy even when they're turned off. I'm setting phone alarms to remind me to unplug these appliances and conserve energy.

Grow Plants

Trees consume CO2 and reduce home heating and cooling costs, so plant a tree. Alternatively, you could join us and plant flowers or a garden in your backyard or rent a plot in the community garden.

Adjust the Thermostat

Increasing the thermostat setting in the summer and turning it down in the winter cuts your family's energy consumption. We also use fans to conserve energy and stay comfortable.

My family will celebrate Earth Day every day by reducing our carbon footprint in 15 ways. I appreciate the opportunity to preserve the planet for my children and to teach my kids to conserve natural resources. Will your family join us?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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