By Daddy Nickell
When my wife Katy and I got married, building a life that was safe and healthy to raise a family was of the utmost important to us. Living green has been a lifelong practice that really flourished as our family grew. Our number one priority has been to raise a happy family and create a healthy environment for us, as well as, our surrounding community of Manhattan Beach, CA.
We are often asked, “What can I do to live a green lifestyle?” The answer is simple, if everyone would make small changes in their everyday lives, it could make a significant impact on the strain for resources in their local communities. Katy and I have compiled a list of some simple ways we all can contribute to making a smaller footprint.
1. Reduce Water Consumption– There are several ways families can reduce their water consumption.
- Take showers instead of baths. Newer higher efficiency showerheads provide good water pressure and use less water than filling a bath tub.
- Shorten Shower time. Less time in the shower saves up to 5 gallons of water per minute you cut from shower time.
- Use high efficiency toilets. Over the past several years manufacturers have worked to make toilets more water efficient and bacteria-resistant which makes them easier to clean.
- Xeriscape – Be thoughtful in your landscaping choices. Utilize plants and grasses that are drought tolerant. Reduce water consumption and garden maintenance simultaneously.
- Plant trees for shade. Not only will the shade help reduce cooling costs, it will also increase property values when the trees mature.
2. Use Natural Cleaning Products– Natural cleaning products are readily available at most super markets. They clean, disinfect and deodorize the same way conventional cleaning products do without harmful chemicals. Read labels before you purchase, natural ingredients include baking soda, borax, cornstarch, lemon juice, mineral oil, vinegar and washing soda. If you choose to make your own, add essential oils for fragrance.
3. Maximize Solar Power– Consider installing solar panels to heat and cool your home. Solar panels will reduce energy levels and benefit your entire community by reducing energy consumption at the local power plant.
4. Preserve Air Quality– Use eco-friendly paints the next time you update a room in your house. Eco-friendly paints have very low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and come in a wide array of colors.
5. Reduce Utility Consumption– Upgrade to a high quality air filtering system. By providing better air ventilation and exhaust in your home you will have cleaner air to breathe while reducing strain your community’s electric and gas consumption.
6. Buy Natural and Organic Products– When making purchases for furniture and bedding choose organic products made from sustainable materials like unbleached wool, bamboo, or natural plant fibers. Using eco-friendly furniture is an excellent way to detox your home. Organic mattresses made from wool or natural latex and have been shown to reduce allergens in the air.
7. Use Re-usable Containers– Rather than using foil or plastic wrap; try using re-usable storage containers for leftovers or lunches. Consider taking a coffee mug to work instead of using Styrofoam cups. Not only will you save money, you will also reduce items that sit in a landfill for years decomposing.
8. Eat Clean– More processing equals less nutrient density in foods. Focus on buying fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet. Eating clean will improve your health and cut down on landfill items by cutting out cans, glass and plastics in your trash.
9. Conduct an Energy Audit– Discover where you have leaks and plug them up. Inefficient windows and doors can cost a lot in utility bills in the winter. If you still feel drafts, hire a professional auditor through the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver site. They can make excellent recommendations to make your home weather tight.
10. Recycle– Most major cities offer free recycling as part of weekly trash removal programs. Take advantage of the service and sort through glass, plastic, aluminum and paper. Quarterly go through closets and drawers and find clothes the kids have outgrown or that you simply don’t wear anymore and donate to a thrift store or homeless shelter. Items that are gently used can benefit others in your community.
Living a green lifestyle is a conscious choice we made for our family, and we can attest to the fact that the benefits far outweigh the planning it takes. We would like to encourage you to join us in adopting a green lifestyle for your family. You will be amazed at the difference it will make in your lives and in your local community.
Good luck and happy parenting!
The Nickells’ practice what they preach as they are in the process of building an eco- friendly home that is on track to receive Platinum LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 7, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddy & Co., delivery room duds and daddy gifts and apparel, and the Daddy & Co. blog where he covers topics about parenting all from a Dad’s perspective.