- Stop watching television
- Eat fresh, local foods
- When not in use, turn it off
- Take advantage of thrift stores
- Become a part of your community
- Compost and recycle
- Plan ahead
I think you'll agree that these are very do-able steps that we can all incorporate into our lives. I'm happy to say I do most of these but there's definitely room for improvement! Considering them in relation to family life, they are also helpful to encourage quality time and learning together:
Walking with your family gives time for conversation and noticing what's around you, whether it be city sites or autumn leaves falling. It can be exercise without you realising it and an enjoyable time to observe your surroundings, maybe jump in puddles or run into friends.
Not watching television means more time for play and activities. Children are more active if they're not sat in front of a TV screen and parents are more likely to chat to their children or engage them in something fun or interesting.
Eating fresh local foods hopefully means you eat more seasonally and healthily. It's good for children to learn what grows when and to enjoy trying new things as they become available throughout the year. Fruit picking at farms can be a fun family outing.
Turning off electrical items when they are not being used is a good habit to get into and an example to set to older children. It's something I've made a big effort to do this year as one of my new year's resolutions.
Thrift stores, or charity shops as we call them in the UK, can be a great way to get some new things without spending much money and as a way to help reduce the amount of items that go to landfill. Online sites like Freecycle operate along similar lines. There's no reason why everything you buy for your family needs to be brand new, so it can be worth looking at these places first for things like clothing and books.
De-complicate is very sensible advice. Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op mentioned cleaning products for this point, suggesting you try homemade cleaners rather than filling your cupboard with all kinds of bottles and sprays that can be harmful to children and the environment. It applies to anything though - toiletries in the bathroom, pantry staples in the kitchen....keep it simple!
De-stuff is something we should all do on a regular basis. Take stock of the things you have in your home and if they are not used, give them away to people who will use them. Think before you buy anything and try to make purchases that will be long-lasting in terms of durability and enjoyment (toys, clothing).
Becoming a part of your community is a nice way to involve your family with similarly-minded people nearby. It enables both parents and children to meet new people, make friends and to have a certain satisfaction from being part of a group. Look for local groups or those associated with your child's school or a hobby they regularly practise.
Composting and recycling can be explained to older children and they can help you sort things for the recycling and compost bins.
Planning ahead is very practical advice for families. Everything from day-to-day tasks like making school packed lunches to events like a family holiday benefits from thinking through in advance, making lists, preparing what's needed earlier rather than later and results in less wasted time and money.
Can you think of other things we can do to live more sustainably in the city? Do you do most of the suggestions listed already?