Tuesday: 3 easy ways to go green

By Srikant Chellappa @ Zenoobi

Like it or not everything we do has a direct environmental impact, some of which can last generations and have a profound undesirable impact on the ecosystem.  As busy parents, we are often too busy running around and raising our children to pay too much attention to eco-friendly ways. Fortunately, living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all or nothing effort, even small things which require minimal effort and expense can go a long way. You don’t have to buy an electric car and install solar panels on your roof to be eco-friendly!  When raising a child, small habits started young can lead to your child respecting the environment and can create a generation of low impact consumers.

Here are 3, high impact - low effort,  eco-friendly, green actions you can take with your child.

1.       Ditch the disposable plastic bottled water.

Plastic disposable water bottles have a deep impact on the energy consumption and environment even if they are “recyclable”.  According to a recent study, bottled water can produce plastic waste in tune of 1.5 million tons in a year. Not to mention, this plastic takes an estimated 47 million gallons of crude oil.  It is also estimated that around 80% of these bottles may never be recycled. Even if they are recycled, it is more energy and consequent pollution required in recycling. This is not a win-win as may be perceived. Your best bet is to get a high quality water bottle that you can use for several years. There are several BPA free and eco-friendly bottles in the market, some of which have double lining so they don’t sweat if you carry them around in your child’s school bag. Look at some options on eco-friendly bottles online here at http://www.zenoobi.com/essentials/sippycups.html or look at your local stores to see if they carry some good options for you. You can also use some of the newer versions with a built-in filter if you are concerned with water quality in your area.

2.       Go eco-friendly with re-usable lunch boxes.

Lunch trash is a growing problem in our schools. Here is another overlooked area with the common use of zip-lock style bags and other materials that end up in mixed trash, never to be recycled. It is estimated that an average elementary school generates 18,000 pounds of school lunch waste. Obviously not all of it is the packaging. There is a growing trend towards “no-waste” lunch. Here is how you can work towards that goal:
-          Get a high quality lunch box preferably made with eco-friendly material. There are several options including      high quality steel, BPA and PVC free plastic with “safe” paint coating.l
-          Use a lunch bag that will last a long time and keep your child’s food warm or cold as the case may be.
-          Pack real silverware and cloth napkins that won’t get thrown away
-          Pack foods your child will eat. (We know this one is the hard part!)

3.       Take a walk and get outdoors.

Increased use of electronics, TV, video games as entertainment for our children not only takes a toll on the environment (electronics and batteries are notoriously toxic for our environment and are hardly recycled) but also impact the behavior of our children.  Ironically the easiest and cheapest form of entertainment for a kid is to be in natural surroundings. Looking for a fun activity to do with your child, work in the garden or take a walk in the park with your child. The best way we wean our little one off their request to watch TV or play a game on the computer of iPad is to go on a mock treasure hunt in our back yard or pick some flowers or herbs for our flower vase or the next meal we are making. Hiking in your local preservation is a great way to get your child one with nature and appreciate the gift we have. Recent studies have identified new symptoms around “Nature Deficit Disorder”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_deficit_disorder. Walking creates better neighborhoods, more social interaction and reduced incidence of social behavior disorder. Next time your child is bored and wants to sit in front of the TV, take a walk!

About the blogger: Srikant Chellappa is a dad of a 4 year old and loves to promote eco-friendly lifestyle. He believes the our children are never too young to learn about the environmental impact of our actions and can be an active participant in families living an eco-friendly and sustainable manner. Srikant also founded Zenoobi.com, an eco-friendly ecommerce site for babies and kids products. Learn more at http://www.zenoobi.com/