Friday, 23 July 2010

Who said it aint easy being green?

I was putting the bins out yesterday morning, as you do on a Thursday morning when you live in our area. The recycling bin was particularly empty this week, and the garbage bin overflowing. It got me thinking because usually the overflow is the other way around.

I was out of town last week, with the kids, and the Geege was home alone. It wasn't the status quo and subsequently the rubbish situation is all back to front.

I have concluded from this that I am the recycling Champion in this household.

There's so much a person can do to be a better recycler. I try to reduce the paper trail in the household. For example, we get the school to email the newsletter instead of getting those pesky bits of paper (I raised this at a P and C meeting and now the school is encouraging this with all the parents which is great). The kids also use the clean side of old bills, letters etc. for their drawing and painting experiences, rather than a new piece of paper.

I make sure all the little bits and pieces are properly disposed of in the correct bins. The kids ask me which bin to put their rubbish in (I love that they know there are options). We have a different bin for 'rubbish' and 'recycling' (if I were a different sort of Mum I would get the kids to design labels for each bin).

The kids sometimes get a 'reward' when the recycling bin fills up (usually this is the opportunity to make craft robots or space ships out of the 'dry' contents. They love it!). With a little imagination, a piece of rubbish can be transformed into a child’s masterpiece. Need some inspiration? Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids by MaryAnn F. Kohl is full of great ideas for recycled kids crafts.

I recycle as much as I possibly can. I've taught the kids about the different types of recycling materials -paper, glass, aluminium cans, steel cans, and plastics. Our council bins list all of the appropriate plastic container numbers that they can recycle at the waste depot. I only realised that plastic containers have different numbers on them a couple of years ago and matching them to the sticker on the bin is a great teaching tool for the kids.

We also have a compost bin for our garden and vegetable waste. I have to admit that I am not great a using the compost we create (or taking care of it) but it is a great spot to 'dump' the potato peelings etc. The process of composting can be a fascinating science lesson for kids (we play 'spot the worm'). You can learn the simple art (and science) of composting at or checkout your local council website.

One of my goals for this year is to (finally) plant out our vegetable gardens (using our own compost) and grow me some vegies. The time is right for getting this process started but somehow I still haven't got around to it. I wish someone would write a daily blog about what I should do so that I could just follow their lead. Does anyone know of such a thing? Hint, Hint? Please...

Other strategies I try to use to reduce my environmental impact are:

1. Limit my washing (especially at the moment.) -  Do you wash clothes simply because they’re in the washing basket (or on the kids’ bedroom floor?) Don’t wash clothes that were barely worn.  It is easier sadi than done when the whole tribe dumps everything into the washing basket.

I am in the process of getting a new hamper and I intend to get the kids a separate basket for the ‘not so dirty’ clothes. Then I can decide if that load is really necessary. I don't have to tell you that reducing washing saves water, electricity and the detergent that is heavy on packaging materials.

I use “green” detergents and a front loader washing machine.

2. Reusable bags: I rarely leave home without them! Plastic bags are amongst the environment’s biggest menaces. They end up in landfills and our river systems, harming wildlife and break down into smaller, more toxic particles. By saying no to plastic bags and yes to cloth ones for groceries, household goods, etc., they reckon I save the earth from roughly 22,100 bags in my lifetime!

While I use standard "green bags" available from the local supermarket, you can make a fashion statement with your cloth bags. Check out for some cute designs for adults and kids.

It's amazing what the simple act of taking the bins out can bring to mind. Kermit the Frog got it all wrong. Nowadays it is easy being green.

Have you got any tips for teaching your kids about being 'green'?


Maxabella said...

You're one of the original green queens. It was handed down by your father - you forgot to mention the handy recycling tip of using every suitable household container as a planter. Tins, bags, bottles - stick a plant in them.

Jessica Anne said...

Great ideas! We have a compost bin as well and I rarely use the compost, but it reduces the stuff we throw out. I try to use homemade cleaners, like vinegar, as well around the house instead of chemicals.

Asashia said...

Love, love, love my snack taxis! Reusable and fashionable all at the same time!

Wanderlust said...

This will be imprinted upon your kids! Mine do the same, they know to look for the little recycling triangles on plastics.

When I grew up in California we had a few droughts and were on water rationing. We were limited to 2 minute showers and had to check our water meters and we were fined if we went over a certain limit. To this day I cannot STAND to have water running if it's not in use. I have to turn it off if I'm brushing, washing dishes, etc, until I'm ready to rinse. It is just ingrained in me. Great lessons!

Lori @ RRSAHM said...

Good on you. Mine aren't quite old enough for this yet but I am an avid recycler.

Glen said...

It is amazingly easy to make a difference - you just have to want to. Well done you :-)

MultipleMum said...

Thanks for the tips! Love them.

I don't know what a snack taxi is (anyone?) but it sounds fun.

I was good about the shower thing for all of about 6 months, but that has gone out the window (or should I say down the drain?) lately. Honestly it is the only peaceful 10 minutes I get in a day. I don't want to rush it! But you are right Wanderlust. I can do better in that aspect.

And the green cleaning is tops advice. I use Enjo and Greenchoice products but my cleaner uses bleach (lol). I turn a blind eye 'cause she always makes the bathroom look so clean!

Rachel said...

In the summer we dont use the dryer for our clothes a $60 investment for a washing line has saved us loads on the electric bill ... my kids enjoy our weekly trip to the towns recycling center... and we ave done away with plastic bags .. we use cloth ones to....

monique said...

I have lived in Europe, Australia and now the Middle East. I have been a great recycler and greenie from using rainwater for the washing and flushing to having solarpanels generating electricity... but now in the ME it is very depressing as recycling is non-existent. I see so much rubbish go in the huge bins which can be r-r-r (reduced reused recycled). I am the ONLY person in the supermarket with cloth bags. We have year round sunshine but have yet to find a solar panel in the country. I will be there for another 3 years and am seriously thinking of finding a way to raise awareness for this issue in this country.

Michelle said...

No tips I don't think but another one who tries to do her bit here. Iwoudl love to grow veggies too but need some raised beds first - errr Dad!

Happy FYBF. Mich x

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