10 Practical Ways Families Can Be More Eco-Friendly and Help Our Planet

how to be an eco-friendly family"
how to be an eco-friendly family
Source: Anastasia Shuraeva | Pexels
Source: Anastasia Shuraeva | Pexels

Whether it’s the fresh water we have to drink, the colorful produce that lines our supermarket’s shelves, or the parks we play in with our kids, surely each of us finds nourishment and pleasure in some version of our planet’s generous gifts on a daily basis. However, at the rate we’ve been going—consuming and enjoying without enough eco-friendly living to balance it out—we now find ourselves in a shared global warming crisis. 

Make no mistake about it, it’s humans who have the capacity to spread love, achieve greatness, and create wonderfully positive impact here on Earth. Nevertheless, the severe dangers of global warming are also a direct result of humans—our choices, our negligence, and our short-sightedness. Even the United Nations has declared we are facing a “code red for humanity.” Devastating hurricanes, raging wildfires, destructive landslides, and disappearing wilderness have become like regularly scheduled programming. It’s scary how desensitizing it can become if you’re not mindful. Essentially, if we don’t boost our efforts, then our planet as we know and cherish it will cease to exist—and probably sooner than we imagine. 

It’s worth mentioning that there is no denying there are many who do care about protecting our planet and who feel climate change anxiety on a regular basis. Who worry deeply there won’t be a beautiful planet for our children’s children, their children, and so forth, to savor. The trouble is, whether we care or not, everybody faces the dual demand of trying to manage their own lives while contributing to something larger than themselves. What’s more, even when we are truly trying to do our part in safeguarding the planet, it can be hard to reconcile seeing a massive catastrophic environmental event somewhere else, and wonder how putting out a recycling bin, switching our lightbulbs, or eating less meat is really going to stop that. 

It’s true—we can’t avoid the damage to our precious planet we have already caused. But what we can impact is how quickly further damage, or the intensity of that damage, unfolds (and yes, even by making “small” changes!). Ready to harness your climate change anxiety for a greater good, and get your little ones involved in making a difference? Here are 10 practical ways to begin to remedy our hurting planet.

1. Measure Your Carbon Footprint

Sweeping, expansive changes will be the stuff that saves us, but our individual actions make a difference too. Use a free online carbon calculator to determine your family’s starting point. There are plenty available that take into account things like your electricity, water, and gas use. From there, you can assess where small changes can do the most good, whether that’s biking more or embracing a plant-based diet. 

eco-friendly changes for families to make
Source: Jonas Mohamadi | Pexels

2. Help Your Kids Understand

The climate crisis is truly compelling nightmare fodder, making it all the more critical to tread carefully in conversations about it. The idea, after all, is not to scare the pants off your kids but to inspire them into action. The good thing is that today’s Gen Alpha kids are climate advocates far more than any previous generation of kids have been. If you’re looking for inspiration, The New York Times also has a free, beautifully illustrated and digestible book on this topic that’s available to read online together.

3. Write Letters

Let’s face it: The people who are poised to enact the change we truly need are those we elected into office. Encouraging kids to write or dictate letters to them is a wonderful way to teach children about the power of their voices. Nudge little ones to share why we don’t have a moment to lose when it comes to climate action, and help older kids research what climate-related bills are making their way through Congress. Need help finding contact info for your elected officials? has an easy-to-search database

4. Get Vocal

Kids love taking charge. Let them lead the way on how they want to spread the word about the climate crisis. Maybe it’s forming a climate committee at school or starting up an Earth-lovers’ book club. If your community hosts a farmer’s market, your little one might even want a table to talk to neighbors about what’s at stake. Need something more low-key? Chalk up your front sidewalk with small ways passersby can make a difference. 

eco-friendly changes for families to make
Source: Charles Parker | Pexels

5. Make It a Challenge

Make good use of their competitive side by starting a climate-saving challenge. Get your neighbors involved to complete a series of Earth-friendly practices, like biking instead of driving, cooking up more vegetarian meals, or using less plastic. An app like Goose Chase makes teaming up and keeping score a cinch. 

6. Learn Together as a Community

Recycling, composting, and gardening are all hands-on ways kids can work to protect our planet and combat climate change anxiety. Try hosting a backyard workshop with family and friends where you learn about Earth-friendly practices you can all take on together. 

7. Vote 

Our elected officials can do the most good—or they can pave the way for some serious harm to the planet. Use this moment to talk to your children about why it’s so crucial to vote in every election. It’s never too early to learn about the importance of using your voice. Together, you and your child can research candidates for upcoming elections, paying close attention to their voting record on climate issues. Make Earth-friendly candidates a priority in your next election. 

8. Turn Movie Night Into Something More

There’s no shortage of stunning documentaries available on your favorite streaming channels that address issues fueling climate change anxiety (for example, Disney+ features tons of National Geographic’s content). The next time your family sits down to watch a movie together, select one of these documentaries that catches everyone’s attention. Then, when you’ve finished watching, have a thoughtful discussion about it and decide on an action you can all take together to support what it addressed.

9. Pay Attention to Your Brand Loyalty

While it’s hard to pinpoint environmentally-conscious companies for each and every little thing we buy, why not try to find a handful you can trust, and build your list a couple at a time?  As a family, take stock of who manufactures some of the foods, clothes, and toys you currently use and will probably continue to shop for. Research if they’ve publicly shared any efforts they make toward supporting the climate. If they don’t, try to find a suitable replacement company for the item in question who does, and try their product(s) next time.

10. Enjoy Nature Together

While it sounds simple, and you might question if enjoying is really the same thing as “helping,” getting out and appreciating nature as a family absolutely makes a difference. After all, the trees, flowers, and creatures big or small surrounding us have feelings, too! Besides radiating your gratitude to the planet, spending time outdoors means you’re spending less time driving around, using electricity, and doing other consumer-like things. It can also instill a love of nature in your kids so they’ll be more inclined to preserve and protect the environment as a whole.

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