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Simple ways to reduce your family’s carbon footprint

March 3, 20200

There’s no doubt the atmosphere around the subject of climate change is, well, changing. Globally, young people are taking a stand against the way our planet is being treated and the need for leaders to take urgent action, with teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg leading the way. The ‘Greta Effect’ has shone a light on the realities of global warming, and united young people in climate strikes around the world.

When it comes to future impacts of our lifestyle choices, a lot is still unknown. However, we do know the higher your carbon footprint, the more damage caused to the environment. A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production and use of a product or service, such as transportation, housing and food. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming.

This is where you can help. We’ve put together a list of several simple things you and your family can do in your daily life that have a huge effect on the environment. Remember to get your school involved too, as these can be fun activities for children to share with their classmates, so we can all start reducing our carbon emissions, today.

Eat Local

The products in your local supermarket may have come from countries around the world and all that transportation on trucks, trains, and planes adds up to a big impact on the environment. Read labels and where possible, opt for locally-produced, in season foods. Visiting a local market to choose fresh foods is a great family activity, and your children can take some to school to share with their classmates! Check out websites http://www.farmersmarkets.org.nz/find-a-market.html and https://www.ripenear.me to find delicious, fresh produce grown in your area.

Plant a garden

Better yet, grow your own food. Growing fruits and vegetables in your own backyard, is not only good for the environment, it’s a great way to teach your children about where food comes from and get them involved in the kitchen. Set aside a corner of your garden for growing small crops like tomatoes, strawberries, peas, beans and peppers. Enjoy harvesting your food with your children and using it to prepare delicious, eco-friendly snacks for their lunchbox.
Here are some tips to get you started, https://www.yates.co.nz/child, and information on what to plant each season, https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/garden/85565720/the-beginners-guide-to-starting-a-vege-garden-10-fast-and-easy-crops. Also check out #kidsgardeningnz on Instagram for ideas and inspiration.

Reduce waste

There are some simple solutions to help you lower your food waste and save money. Plan your weekly meals by checking what food you already have and making a grocery list before you go. This will ensure you have enough food for all of your meals, and stop impulse buying. Get creative with your leftovers and extra produce from your garden instead of throwing them away, or freeze them. These can be reheated for fast after school snacks or meals. Check out this website for lots of great ideas on how to use up your leftovers, https://lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz/recipe/using-leftovers/.

Recycle

  • Much of our household rubbish ends up in landfills. Recycling gives packaging and products a new life, and getting your family and school involved, can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint.
  • Here are some ways to make sure your waste ends up in the right place:
    – Check the number inside the triangle on the bottom of plastic containers to see whether it can be recycled (most council recycling collections accept 1 and 2).
    – Clean empty food containers
    – Separate them into containers for glass, plastic, tin cans and glass
    – Leave them out on your council collection day or deliver to accepted drop-off points
    – For a complete guide on what you can and can’t recycle in NZ, click here https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/08/a-complete-guide-to-what-you-can-and-can-t-recycle-in-new-zealand.html. Found a great use for your recycled materials? Post your photo on #recyclenz.

Drive less

Driving releases carbon emissions, so reducing how often you use the car is a great way to help the environment. Before hopping into the car, consider other options – could you carpool to school with other local families, use public transport, cycle or walk instead? You’ll not only save money on fuel; going carless can also be a great way to get fit!

Changing your daily habits is one of the most significant things you can do to help the planet. By reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll not only be taking your environment into consideration, you’ll also learn new skills, save money and have fun as a family.


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