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Keep Your Family’s Routine Green

Here’s how to reduce waste, and get the kids to help out, too

A woman holds a recycling bin while two young children toss in recyclables, plastic and glass bottles stacked in front of them

Earth Day is once a year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to help the environment the other 364 days. Small changes make a difference.

Make Sure to Recycle

According to a 2013 study by The Conference Board of Canada, Canadians produce more trash per capita than any other developed country. That's staggering. Teach your kids what goes in the trash versus the recycling bin—it will be a friendly reminder to yourself, too. If you’re unsure whether an item can be recycled, check your local guidelines. Many electronics stores have recycling bins for electrical products and batteries, but consider rechargeable batteries that can be used over again. And don’t forget about your garden: fruit and vegetable leftovers can be turned into compost.

Do Your Part to Reuse

When packing lunches, avoid disposable wrappers and replace them with washable containers; rather than buying bottled water, purchase refillable bottles. Use reusable grocery bags over plastic bags. The more we can reuse items means fewer products will end up in landfills. Always be on the lookout for household items made from recycled materials. Even old car tires are being turned into purses and doormats.

Watch Your Paper (and Plastic) Consumption

While it’s helpful to recycle paper, it’s even better to use less of it. Try cloth rags instead of paper towels, pay your bills online and don’t accept junk mail delivered to your home (a simple friendly note to your mail carrier may do the trick). Globally, 27,000 trees are cut down every day just for toilet paper! Think about buying tree-free tissue made from bamboo and sugarcane grass, which will hopefully become more popular in the future. Also, try to avoid buying products with extra packaging and consider getting your groceries in bulk.

Keep Spring Cleaning Earth Friendly

Spring is the perfect time to de-clutter, so why not go through those messy drawers and closets and donate items to charity? Kids can sort through their toys and give items they no longer play with to younger children or shelters. Then, to freshen up all that newfound space, create your own cleaning agents with baking soda or vinegar, or purchase non-toxic cleaning solutions. Another environmentally friendly cleaner is diluted hydrogen peroxide since it breaks down into oxygen and water. It’s also less expensive!

Make an Effort to Save Water

Teach your kids not to leave the water on when brushing their teeth and washing their hands. Take shorter showers and ensure there are no leaking taps or toilets wasting water. When waiting for hot water to heat up, try collecting the running water for houseplants instead of wasting it. This summer, when watering your lawn, don’t use a sprinkler that is on continuously; instead, try a soaker hose during evening hours.

Preserve Energy and Resources

Aside from making sure to turn off the television, computer, lights and other devices when not in use, small appliances should be unplugged. Buy energy-saving light bulbs, which also last longer. Consider using the air conditioner less this summer, or try one that is energy efficient, with a timer or fan-only option. And it’s always a good time to consider renewable energy—your home might be perfect for solar panels, so in the long run you can save money and help the environment.

Need some insight on how to recycle electronics? You’re in luck. We have a guide on how to properly dispose of your old cellphones, computers and more.