6 Green Resolutions for 2014


In my last post I wrote about how climate change is my biggest fear for my children’s future. For this post I wanted to focus on green resolutions that families can make to reduce the harmful effects a modern American existence has on the environment. While making these resolutions part of your every day life won’t solve all environmental ills, it is a good faith effort to live in a way that is more compatible with the earth. Every day I try to do a little better.


1. Reduce  Food Waste
If food waste (food that is grown but not eaten) were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas in the world–just after China and the US. That is huge! Anyone who has a child probably has direct experience with wasted food. My kids certainly do more than their share of food wasting. Making sure that you eat all the food you prepare is one way to cut down on your own carbon footprint. Compost any food waste that you really can’t eat. This is better than putting it in the trash because composted food breaks down into carbon dioxide. Food in a landfill breaks down into methane which is 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. You can compost in your own backyard, or bring it to Green Mountain Compost for free. You can also compost yard waste and make free fertilizer for your garden.

2. Consider the Packaging
Lots of convenience foods are marketed at kids and families. Items for lunch boxes, convenient snack packs, plastic baggies, juice boxes etc. Look at the packaging of items that you frequently buy. Is there any way you can create that food item yourself and transport it in a reusable container? Consider popsicles as an example. Each box of popsicles comes in a freezer box which is waxed and therefore not recyclable. Then each individual pop has its own wrapping too. If you buy a popsicle form you can have fun with the kids by experimenting with new, healthier options, and cut down on a lot of waste. Maybe there are other ways you can reduce packaging too. I stopped buying individual yogurts in favor of the large containers.

Yogurt OJ popsicle

As an experiment I started saving milk jugs and juice jugs. It’s kind of insane how many I have accumulated in just a couple months. Try saving one particular type of packaging your family often consumes for some perspective on how much waste it actually produces. Then maybe you can come up with a creative solution to reduce it. I plan to use the jugs for storing homemade apple cider next fall. Recycling packaging is good, but eliminating it is even better. Making more homemade foods, buying in bulk, or even just buying brands that use less packaging can reduce waste and even save you money.

Fresh, home-pressed apple cider

3. Meatless Mondays
Raising and processing meat is also a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, 14%-22% of global emissions. By eating vegetarian just one night a week you can reduce your family’s contribution to global warming, and reap the health benefits of eating less saturated fats too.

4. Non-toxic Do-It-Yourself Alternatives

Many of the products we use nowadays contain a lot of chemicals that find their way into our bodies and into nature. Find ways to replace cleaners and other household chemicals with more natural alternatives. They can often be produced at a lower cost too. Making homemade cleaners is a great way to replace toxic products saving you money and worry over what chemicals you and your family are exposed to. Christin did a great post on an easy all purpose cleaner, so in case you missed it, check it out.

One of my favorites that I recently learned about was wool dryer balls. These are literally just balls of wool yarn (tightly wound) that you stick in your dryer. They take the static cling out of your clothes without coating them in chemicals like dryer sheets do. They also help your clothes dry faster.

photo 2(2)
Felted Wool Dryer Balls

5. Avoid the “Dirty Dozen”

It’s important to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to pass on healthy eating to your kids. However, there are some foods that are so laden with pesticides that the harm can outweigh the benefits. See the list of the “Dirty Dozen” below, and try to avoid them or buy them organically. Pesticides are not only harmful to your health, they are also responsible for killing bees and other pollinating insects around the world. Without pollinators, many of the foods we love could disappear. Protect your family and the bees.

6. Reduce Car Use

This is a familiar instruction we get to reduce our harm to the environment. It’s important though, so worth repeating. If you can walk or bike instead of driving, do it. I live out in the Champlain Islands where it’s hard to walk anywhere though, so I make sure I make my car trips “into town” really count by fitting in as many errands and activities into one trip as I can. This is something mothers do a lot naturally in an attempt to maximize our time, so just keep doing it! I also make sure we have at least one day a week where we just stay home and/or in our own hometown. Reducing how much you drive saves money too of course, and helps keep you and your family physically fit.

Taking a walk
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Sandra O'Flaherty
I am stay at home mom to two wonderful kids. I grew up in Vermont, but it wasn't until I left this great state for a few years that I truly appreciated what a wonderful place it is. My husband is also a Vermonter, so we are happy to be able to raise our kids here surrounded by a large extended family. In fact, we like it so much that we bought the house next door to his parents, and my mom lives in an apartment on our property. We enjoy playing outdoors and poking around our little "gentleman's farm" that we started in 2010. We have chickens, goats, a work-in-progress vegetable garden, fruit trees, and we tap our own maple trees for syrup. I have a BA in environmental studies and an MA in urban planning. I try to keep a toe in the professional world that I left when my oldest was born by serving on our local Planning Commission. You can learn more about me and my passion for this planet we call home on my blog: Mama of Ma'at


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