There are so many different ways to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into your family's daily life. But don't let intimidation keep you from greening your ways. Organizing yourself to take some simple steps can really make a big difference, and you'll be surprised by how easy it is to incorporate new eco-conscious ways into your lifestyle without even noticing the difference.
Start small. There isn't just one way to be green, so before you start trying to overhaul everything, remember that every little bit counts. Also remember that no one is keeping tabs, so if you pack your lunch in reusable containers but can't give up your regular lightbulbs, don't beat yourself up over it.
Bad habits rule. No, we don't mean that your bad habits are cool or that you should embrace them. Instead, get in touch with yourself and figure out where you are the worst offender. Are you addicted to paper towels, always using five or six when really one or two could still do the job? Opt for White Cloud Green Earth paper towels (visit www.getbuttonedup.com for a $1-off coupon). Do you have a six-pack-a-day water-bottle habit? Buy a reusable bottle and refill it throughout the day (visit www.getbuttonedup.com for a review of different reusable water bottles). Start by curbing your worst habit (or habits) first — you'll make the biggest impact that way.
One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Okay, it's unlikely that your used US Weekly will suddenly morph into the latest "it" dress, but recycling magazines, catalogs and junk mail is a great way to get in on the green bandwagon. Better yet, go online to www. catalogchoice.org and control which catalogs you receive or call the companies that send catalogs that you no longer want and tell them to remove you from their lists.
Become a bag lady. You know that tote from your husband's conference in Florida three years ago? Give it new life or buy reusable totes (they even have nifty freezer ones) from your favorite store and use them instead of plastic shopping bags. Store them in your trunk so you are always armed in case you make an unplanned pit stop. Step inside the store without them? Think of the walk back to your car as a free two minutes of exercise.
Shop locally. Hit up your area farmers market. It not only helps local farmers in need of business and gives you a chance to enjoy fresh organic produce, but it also reduces traffic, smog and all kinds of other pesky disturbances that come from trucking food from across the country.
Get the kids in on it. Start by explaining why it's important to take little steps toward helping the planet and the kids will be more than happy to join in. You can get them involved by doing everything from packing their lunches in reusable containers (instead of plastic baggies) to signing up to help a local group clean up a park or beach to even planting a vegetable garden in your backyard. Just remember to make it fun!
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized.