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Green Families

2010 - 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, cars were buried and action was demanded from the Nixon administration and Congress. The Environmental Protection Agency was created, as was the Council on Environmental Quality.

A few key changes over the years include:

Fuel Economy
In 1973 U.S. cars averaged 13 miles per gallon of gas. The government has consistently set higher fuel efficiency standards and for the 2011 model year automakers’ vehicles will have to average 27.3 mpg. In 2016, the standard will be 35.5 mpg.

CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs)
Although available since 1980, it was only when costs dropped in the late 1990’s that they became popular. CFL’s use 75% less energy and last ten times as long as an incandescent bulb - a payback of about six months.

Recycling

In the mid-70’s, only a few cities in the Northeast and California had curbside recycling programs. By 1978, there were more than 200 programs. The Environmental Protection Agency reports more than 8,600 programs exist today.

Energy Star
This program was introduced in 1992 by the EPA to increase the energy efficiency of household products and appliances and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Did you know that a house typically generates twice the greenhouse gas of a car? Since 2000, over three billion Energy Star appliances have been purchased and these saved consumers $17 billion last year alone.

Hybrid Vehicles
Honda introduced the Insight in 1999, the first hybrid gas-electric vehicle in the US. In 2000, Toyota began selling the Prius. Last year Toyota sold 140,000 Priuses in the US. It is the most fuel-efficient car in the U.S. achieving a combined fuel economy rating of 50 mpg. There is plenty of room for improvement as only 3% of light vehicles are hybrids.
And it all started with Earth Day in 1970!



Go Green with the Top Five New Years’ Resolutions

by Kelly Ann Schneider, December 26, 2009

Ok, so we’ve been talking going green all year. But have you really done anything to promote conserving our green resources? Try these easy ideas as your New Years’ Resolutions and you’ll be going green for our planet and future generations.

1. The reusable shopping bag. If you don’t have one, go to any major supermarket or even one of those boutiques like Trader Joes and get one! Or a half dozen! Most are recycled from something, so you are doing double-duty-green by using a recycled-reusable bag. In some stores the bags are priced at under $1.00. Keep them in your car trunk. Just don’t forget them when you go grocery shopping.

2. Email billing statements. According to San Diego Gas and Electric, for every 2,800 customers who have paperless billing, over one ton of paper is saved. Here’s what is saved when we save one ton of paper:

  • 12,000 trees
  • Energy to power 211 homes for one year
  • 2.8 million pounds of greenhouse gases, which is equal to the amount used by 258 cars in one year
  • 14 swimming pools full of waste water
  • 41 garbage trucks full of solid waste.

3. Who needs a gym? Just get out and walk! I know it’s easier said than done, but if you live in a mild temperature winter area, try walking or biking to do your errands. Some people I know even bike to work, which may seem extreme for some people. But how about at least biking to the gym? Or carpooling or taking public transportation? Using the bus for a year could reduce your carbon emissions by 800 pounds in one year. That’s about 2.2 pounds per day!

4. If you must drive your own car, please drive slower. Yep it’s proven if we reduce our speed from 65 mph to 55 mph we could increase fuel efficiency by as much as 15 percent. Are you speedy driver? From 70 mph to 55 mph increases your fuel efficiency by 23 percent. Now are you listening?

5. CFL light bulbs. This is so simple I can’t believe it: if you replace only four incandescent bulbs with those squiggly compact fluorescent bulbs, you can save up to 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in one year. That’s going green without really trying!



Top 10 Tips to Go Green for the Holidays This Year

Kelly Ann Schneider

Dec 9, 2009

LED LIGHTS

Here in America, as a country we consume more energy per capita than any other country on our planet. This holiday season, help America go green to conserve our resources and bring some holiday cheer to mother earth and our future generations!

Here are the Top 10 tips to go green this holiday season, without even trying!

1. LED holiday lights. This year, be a part of the latest holiday craze in going green and conserve your resources by using long lasting, energy saving LED lights. Just like conventional lights, these LED lights come in light strands, nets, icicle and rope lighting, except they cost less and burn brighter.

2. Solar LED lights. That’s right, with a little online research or even shopping one of those huge retailers, you can now buy solar powered LED light strands for your outdoor holiday lighting. Now that is going green!

3. Buy a live tree. Then plant the tree outside. Your tree will be a part of the urban forest and absorb carbon dioxide.

4. Buy a cut tree. If you love the smell of Christmas and feel you must buy a live cut tree, don’t just dump it in the garbage after Christmas, but be sure to dispose of it in an earth friendly way to be composted.

5. Earth friendly wrapping paper. When I was a kid, we saved the Sunday comics for wrapping paper. Now it’s trendy. So instead of fancy, unrecyclable wrapping paper, try wrapping your gifts for kids in the comics, a road map for the travelers in your family, fashion magazines for the girls, business magazines for the men!

6. The basic brown bag. Purchase paper brown bags at the craft store, and then have your kids decorate the outside. Or just tie with raffia, and attach a recycled paper gift tag you made yourself.

7. Everybody loves a shopping bag. This time of year all the big department stores have pretty shopping bags to carry your gifts home, so make it easy on yourself, and re-use a department store shopping bag as a gift bag and tie with colorful recyclable raffia ribbon.

8. Don’t wrap at all. Buy gift cards or gift certificates. Teenagers love picking their own gift using gift cards. And with no wrapping required that’s going green!

9. Gifts with batteries. Just be sure they are rechargeable batteries!

10. Turn down the indoor lights, and enjoy the tree. You’ll cut your electricity use and enjoy the glow of the holidays.



Becoming a Green Family - Is it as challenging as you think?

By Reenita Malhotra, San Francisco CA

GoingGreenResources.com

As you think about various initiatives for going green in your lifestyle, you might wonder how to inspire your family members to do the same. What exactly is a green family and what resources can be utilized to help a family become one?

A green family is one in which all members respect the natural rhythms of the planet and are committed to making lifestyle choices that do not endanger its health. In a time when society was less developed, when commercial products were less available, families were accustomed to using resources at hand. They were green simply because they did not have access to things like TVs, high powered electronics and SUVs. So becoming a green family involves living simply, more perhaps like your ancestors.

There are various things that a family can do to gradually make the shift:

  • Talk About Going Green

    The biggest challenge to going green is the lack of awareness about the topic. Parents are role models for their kids. Anything you do to support green awareness is sure to have a meaningful impact upon your kids. Simply talking them about green living ideas or about conserving resources is easy enough to do during a family dinner gathering.

  • Do It

    You do not need to drastically re-invent your family routine. Instead, focus on making basic changes together. Whether it means using a reusable bag for your grocery shopping, planning a healthy meal or recycling your trash, the most important thing is that parents and kids undertake these activities together. Only then can going green become a general way of living.

  • Find Resources to Help
  • Bookmark GoingGreenResources.com and return often to see new ideas in this section.

    Look out for green taskforces, clubs and events are in your library or in your child's school. And, when it comes to shopping for groceries and household items, opt for eco-friendly products.
    Going green as a family is easier than you think. Besides, you will be surprised at how much fun it can be. Not to mention that it makes for memorable together time.


    Parent Supervised Activities for Green Kids

    By Reenita Malhotra, San Francisco, CA

    GoingGreenResources.com

    Kids love activities and more importantly, they love doing activities with their parents. So why not bond with your kids through activities that are centered on going green? Since they are not yet set in their ways, kids are more amenable to green lifestyle changes, especially if you make if fun for them.

    Green learning activities start with parents giving kids responsibility on a very basic level. You might want to have them pick out fruit the next time you go shopping together at the local farmers' market. Or you might want to assign them a task that encourages them to conserve resources like switching off excess lights and teaching them about products that can be recycled.

    You can extend your activities into physical fitness by kicking around a ball with your kids outside in a local park or taking them on a walk to learn about neighborhood plants and resources. Art, craft and cooking projects are always fun especially if you can use organic or recyclable materials. You can also teach your kids to take very simple actions focused towards going green such as posting a poster that encourages the use of re-usable bags or writing a letter to your mayor about something that is meaningful to them.

    There are plenty of resources to get you started, many of them available on the internet:

  • www.greengorilla.com: This is an environmentally themed website for kids that talks about various green issues and points to parent (and teacher) supervised activities and actions. Parents are invited to document their kids' green activities and post them on the Green Gorilla website so that other kids can learn from them and be inspired to do the same.
  • www.instructables.com:This website is a valuable resource for how-to projects and activities. It has a green section and a kids' section that parents can look at for ideas about activities that will get their kids going green.
  • The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Environmentally-Friendly Living by Jenn Savedge
    This book offers parents resources and hints for things they can do for and with their kids to lead more environmentally friendly lives. Through a series of fun activities--how to start a “light patrol,” make a waste-free school lunch, and build a green bird house--parents can teach kids ways to make the biggest impact and discover how making even the smallest of changes can make a big difference when it comes to going green.



    Family Camping

    By Elisabeth Bailey

    GoingGreenResources.com

    Camping is a great way for people of all ages to get to know and love their environment a little more. For responsible family campers, fun and stewardship of the land go hand in hand. The lessons your kids learn while camping will provide the base for their lifelong love affairs with the earth.

    So what exactly does responsible family camping look like? Here are a few tips to ensure a happy, safe, and environmentally friendly trip:

  • Choose your camping location as a family. Look for a place that is age appropriate for your children, offers fun activities within easy walking distance, and allows for minimal site impact.
  • Teach your children the old saying: Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints. Figure out together what you'll need to pack in (and pack out) to follow saying.
  • Make a game of minimizing your energy use--from starting your campfire with a magnifying glass, to hand-inflating the air mattress, to finding a creative use for your gray water--who can come up with the best ways to save resources?
  • Plan your meals around eating local foods, if possible. If not, bring your own--including a picnic for the trip.
  • Bring a "get to know your environment" kit--binoculars, identification guides, a tape of bird calls, and a net for examining water life. Enjoy some time making plant, tree and bird identifications on your hikes and just around the campsite. The more of the local flora and fauna you get to know, the richer your experience will be.

  • While camping, be careful to keep your food away from little beaks and paws. Teach your kids why we Don't Feed the Animals by exploring their natural diets and how they fit into the ecosystem, instead.

    If you're interested in stepping your environmental focus up a notch, consider a guided trip from the Sierra Club. Their family-friendly offerings range from the mild to the wild, and include trips appropriate for the whole gang, from toddlers to teenagers. Regardless of where your camping adventures take you, remember: be safe, respect the earth… and have fun!


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