Friday marks the celebration of Earth Day, which was founded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. Nelson was inspired in part by the anti-Vietnam war protests and wanted to inspire a similar level of activism against environmental destruction. Since then, Earth Day has become a global event that has raised awareness of many environmental issues including deforestation and global warming.
Much has changed for good in the many years since Earth Day was born. When I was a Bainbridge Island nature-loving child, my tree-hugging family did not recycle. Everything went in the trash. Although we had a substantial garden and grew much of our own food, my parents did not compost.
My environmentally conscious father made me a great swing out of a recycled tire, but like everyone else those days, he did not know yet how to properly dispose of leftover paint and cleaning products. And all those hazardous liquids went down our drain and eventually into his beloved Puget Sound.
I’m trying to teach my kids not just to love nature, as my parents did, but to fiercely protect it every day by taking a few extra steps to “live green." In honor of Earth Day, here is a list of 22 things you and your family can do that will help you help the environment and often save money in the process.
1. Buy local at the Eastside's oldest Farmers' Market, the Redmond Saturday Market at every Saturday, May through October.
2. Have your kids make their friends’ birthday cards and bring gift in decorated paper bags or a cool reusable bag. Kids love getting a handmade card — as do adults.
3. Bring your own bags when you go grocery shopping.
4. Shop at consignment stores like the Tree House Children's Shop, where you can find great gear for dance classes, upscale in Redmond Ridge and thrift stores such as in downtown Redmond.
5. Rip out some lawn and create a garden bed where you can grow your own food this summer. Need help getting started? Contact Redmond’s Living Earth Landscapes or call 425-882-2930. Your kids will also eat more veggies if they grew them themselves.
6. Dispose of your hazardous waste properly. A variety of tips for what is hazardous and where to dispose of it properly in King County can be found here.
7. Buy a share in a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, support local, sustainable farming, and enjoy weekly fresh veggies. My family likes buying a summer share from the Root Connection on Woodinville-Redmond Road. After picking up our weekly "share" of veggies and fruit at Root, we stop at Thenos on the way home for ice cream. A complete directory of CSA farms in King County can be found here.
8. Join the Redmond Freecycle group to receive and donate specific items that would otherwise be thrown away.
9. Ditch those dreaded sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags. I like ReUsies, created by two Seattle moms.
10. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot. Rusty on two wheels? Take a workshop from the Cascade Bicycle Club.
11. Donate your gently used books and magazines to the Friends of the Library group at the . The group will resell your donations and the sales will support programs including story times for kids.
12. in Redmond will buy the gently used books you no longer want and will sell you the books, magazines, DVDs and CDs you do want — at half price.
13. Look for an environmental service project you can do with your children, such as removing trash and non-native plants and planting trees. Volunteer Match is a great website that helps volunteers connect with local projects.
14. Get some chickens and have fresh, free eggs every day. Get support and ideas at the Urban Chicken Blog and from your local 4-H group.
15. Need wood chips for your garden or some firewood? Arborists often will be happy to provide it to you for free. They can also help you select and plant trees to provide privacy and shade and even years of fresh fruit. Find a certified arborist in your area through the Pacific Northwest chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.
16. Dump your bottled-water costs. Buy snazzy metal water bottles for everyone in the family and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet, and you could save hundreds of dollars. in Redmond has a great assortment of kid-pleasing water bottles.
17. Discounts on many “green” merchants can be found in the Seattle Chinook Book, on sale at the Redmond and stores.
18. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September. This can be a great service project for a Girl Scout troop. Reserve a room at the library and publicize to local parenting groups such as the .
19. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy. Find stores with bulbs here.
20. Expand your hand-me-down circle. Organize a clothing swap for your co-op preschool or a group of friends. Everyone brings gently used and clean kids’ clothes to your garage; parents take as many items as they donated. The rest goes to charity. You can also swap toys and books.
21. Replace your showerheads with low-flow models. Low-flow showerheads can save you up to 15 percent of water-heating costs and reduce your water usage by as much as 20,000 gallons a year.
22. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional. Puget Sound Energy offers a list of pre-screened energy auditors and other information on how to save money by going green.