Spring is just around the corner, and personally I couldn’t be more thrilled. Because once winter finally loses its hold that means my family and I can return to our favorite part of the house – the backyard. We love to dine outdoors as often as the weather permits, and the kids are already talking about what we’ll plant this year in the garden.
That’s right, my kids are excited about gardening. They’re also excited about helping create a greener, eco-friendly home. What started as a few home tweaks to help my oldest child reduce the symptoms of asthma has turned into a fully-fledged goal of living in a home that’s healthy for the entire family.
Being Green has Brought Us Together
Many of our best ideas for building a healthier home are generated around the dinner table. Asking our children about their day at school and the interesting things they’ve learned has inspired us to implement some of these easy solutions. Simple fixes such as electronic thermostats that let us cool down the temperature while we’re sleeping, ultimately added to increased energy savings.
Ways We Got the Kids Involved
- Plant Some Raised Garden Beds – Wanting to do our part to support the environment, while also lowering our grocery bills, we decided to grow as much of our food as possible. This has been a real family project because everyone got to pick a few items to plant and tend to throughout the season. The kids are so excited to see the seeds they’ve planted grow into delicious food we can enjoy as a family. When everything is in full bloom, our yard looks so amazing and abundant. Some of the neighbors have even asked us to help set up raised beds for their own yards.
- Change Out the Light Bulbs – This was a suggestion from my youngest, who learned about the importance of energy conservation at school. We switched out our regular incandescent bulbs with some compact florescent lights, and while we haven’t noticed any difference in the quality of lighting around the house, we have certainly noticed a difference in our energy consumption. Our electric bill has gone down and we are able to enjoy light bulbs with nice, long lives.
- All-Natural Flea Relief – Pets are family too! Because our pets love to snuggle up with our kids at night, it’s very important that we don’t treat flea problems with harsh chemicals. We tried one of those over-the-counter brands once and our pet’s negative reaction to it scared us so badly we’ve invested in natural options ever since.
We’ve found that diatomaceous earth safely kills off the fleas our pets might have, while a bit of tea tree oil keeps fleas from wanting to return. To make a simple, all-natural flea collar for your pet, simply apply some tea tree oil to a small length of rope, then wrap a little bandanna around the rope. Tie the bandanna loosely around your pet’s neck for an attractive accessory that will keep your furbaby flea-free.
- Get Unplugged – My youngest has dubbed himself the official leader of the “Plug Patrol”. He explained to us that all of our appliances are still receiving electricity, even when we think they’re turned off. Each day he goes around to ensure that our powered down, and unused appliances are unplugged as well. What started out as a quirky habit soon resulted in lower energy bills, now the whole family is on board with pulling the plugs.
- Seal Cracks and Ducts – We noticed our living room was a little drafty and discovered that small gaps existed around our windows and front door. While my husband and I went to work on sealing the gaps, our kids looked inside and outside for other places where our heated and cooled air might be escaping. We were surprised to find gaps and cracks around doors, windows, ducts, and those areas in our home where the phone and cable lines penetrate our walls.
- Start Composting – If there’s one thing a growing garden loves, it’s the sustenance provided by table scraps. Coffee grounds, egg shells, lawn clippings, fruit rinds, you name it, your garden wants to eat it. Personally, I would avoid adding any animal-based scraps to the compost, but that’s only because it’s an invitation for flies to come lingering around. When it comes to composting, there are as many different things to compost as there are ways of collecting and processing said scraps into useful, fertile soil. With so many options for collecting compost, ranging from small to large, finding one to fit your home’s needs should be simple.
Keep it Simple
Solar panels, water catchments and the idea of living off-grid are not without their merit when trying to achieve a greener home, but these sorts of changes can be costly to implement. When taking the initial steps to make your home better for the environment, look for energy-efficient options that help conserve resources.
Double-paned windows will help contain the heated and cooled air within your home. If you do decide to tackle a bigger project like establishing a catchment system, check out what will work for where you live, you may need a different setup depending on where you are. The type catchment system and gutters in Clearwater, FL may not be the ones you would want to use in another part of the country.
Continuously adding to your green routine and keeping the kids involved will have you saving money as well as the planet. Also, if you work as a family on the “upkeep” throughout the year, you may find that come next spring you may be able to use the extra money you’ve saved and go on a spring vacation instead of a spring cleaning marathon!
Benjamin Baker is a happily married father of two who loves to do manly things with his sons, such as checking out junk yards and antique shops. Together, they looked at sites like www.raincontrolaluminuminc.com to get ideas for low-cost home improvements, and Benjamin was able to spend time with his children adding value to their home.