Green Your Family: A 5-Step Plan to Success

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | April 21st, 2011 | 4 Comments
topic: Green Living

Family taking out the recycling

Was “go green” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Even if your composter is still empty and there are chemical cleaners still lurking in your cabinets, don’t fret — Only 12 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them for a year. Which, frankly, is 12 percent more than I would have guessed. But if you’re like me and the other 88 percent, what can help us keep resolutions is the support of others.

With that in mind, this Earth Day I’m enlisting my family in the greening goals I set for 2011. And by “greening” (aren’t we all just getting sick to death of that word?), I mean treading more lightly on my wallet, my Daytimer, my blood pressure and Mother Earth. Surely THAT’s a resolution worth fighting for!

Your family’s planet-friendly plan

Here’s my five-step plan for creating a family of eco-warriors:

1. Create your family’s vision statement

Gather everyone together and develop a vision statement that outlines where you want each family member to be a year from now. Can you create a sentence that defines your family’s focus and intention? To help, ask each family member, from youngest to oldest, what truly matters to them. You may have to do some divining. If your five-year-old, for example, wants to ensure that polar bears don’t go extinct, you can help break it down into steps she can understand, such as “our family is committed to reducing our carbon footprint to enable the preservation of endangered species.” Get input from all family members so that each member feels well represented within the vision statement.

2. Break the vision down into a defined goal

If your goal is to reduce your carbon footprint (which, incidentally, will also save money and boost family health), figure out a realistic goal. Do you know what your family’s carbon footprint is right now? (A Web search will generally reveal sites that can help you come up with a figure.) How much do you expect to reduce that figure? What will each member commit to?

3. Create a plan for each family member

If you’ve decided to reduce your carbon footprint by, say, 25%, what can each family member do?

  • Teens might agree to limit their showers to two minutes.
  • Kids might agree to walk or bike to school instead of expecting a ride.

4. Give each member an area of responsibility

  • Teens could monitor waste. Can the family get its garbage down to one bin weekly? Or half?
  • Mom can monitor finances by researching green investments to ensure the family’s retirement fund is supporting sustainable projects.
  • Dad can commit to reducing the family’s “food miles” by buying locally.

You get the idea…

5. Plan regular meetings to monitor progress

Is the family on track to achieving its goal? Can you tweak expectations to either create a more ambitious goal or ramp up efforts to achieve the existing one? Ensure that meetings become about celebrating achievement rather than policing each other’s efforts. You want eco-warriors, not family warfare.


  1. Very nice tips, but i think its difficult to follow them from everyone of us!!

    nikos | January 23rd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  2. I speak regularly about the harmful chemicals in our everyday products and I applaud your efforts to provide people with a roadmap to follow to go green! This task becomes easier once you get started and make a commitment, realizing that it’s important to yours and your family’s health! It actually gets to be fun!

    I have collected many chemical-free products in one convenient place to make it easier for people to locate them. Sometimes that’s half the battle.

    CEO, White Lotus Living

    Jan | January 31st, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  3. Some excellent environmentally efficient ideas! Our family is growing organic food including veg, fruit, nuts, & herbs. we preserve, everything we harvest & have a water bore that provides water storage & usage, as well as rain water tanks. with devotion & commitment, I pledge to continue evolving into an eco-warrior

    Tammy b | April 22nd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  4. It is always good to have a plan, thank you for the tips. I have resolved to end my use of plastic straws, and once I have done this long enough to be able to endure the inconvenience of actually having to bend my neck to hydrate, I will move on include another useless item that is environmental suicide when used in mass that is disguised as an everyday convenience. I wish you all an easy transition to living in harmony with God’s gift….planet Earth.

    bitsypeaces | April 22nd, 2011 | Comment Permalink

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