Everyone nowadays seems more environmentally aware. And who wouldn’t? After the tsunami and earthquake that decimated Japan, the floods that plagued New Orleans, and recently the damage Hurricane Irene  caused in the East Coast, people are finally realizing the destruction we wreaked on our environment is hitting back.
As for my family, we’ve been trying to make peace with nature for a while now. My husband John, our five-year old Isabel and I have been going Green in all sorts of ways, not just for us but for everyone nearby. Below are five of the little things we do at home to become more eco-friendly:
1. Using organic cleaners
Reading this article at the Daily Mail UK  really got me thinking about turning to organic products when it came to cleaning around the house. Cleaning should not equate to giving my Isabel asthma so I turned to alternative cleaning products like lemons when removing bacteria, and white vinegar when getting rid of mold and stains. Gone are the days when I had to get my daughter out of the house to prevent her from breathing in noxious gases as I scrubbed. This  list at About.com has been a real guide for us. We’ve printed out copies and placed them on clipboards and folders around the house (and even given them to friends) so we always remember how to mix up our natural household cleaning materials.
2. Converting to CFL or LED
Our family loves CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) and LED (light emitting diode) bulbs! Little by little, we’ve converted all our home bulbs from the conventional incandescent to these longer-lasting, brighter and safer options. CFLs use 75 percent less  energy than the conventional bulbs and last 10 times longer. LEDs are even more efficient, using only 10 percent of energy needed to power an incandescent bulb, and boasts a hundred times longer life span.
 Tropical Storm Lee Remnants Bring Worries About Fresh Floods. Emily Jacobson. September 7, 2011. <http://www.thirdage.com/news/tropical-storm-lee-remnants-bring-worries-about-fresh-floods_09-07-2011>
 Chemicals found in household cleaning products cause asthma in children, finds study. Jenny Hope. 11 March 2008. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-531269/Chemicals-household-cleaning-products-cause-asthma-children-finds-study.html>
 Natural Household Cleaning Products. Cathy Wong. January 23, 2008. <http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/allergiesasthma/a/HouseholdClean.htm>
 How CFL Bulbs Work. William Harris. How Stuff Works. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-tech/sustainable/cfl-bulb1.htm>
Compared to 30 to 40 cents for an incandescent, the initial investment for CFLs is $2 to $4 dollars. An LED bulb, meanwhile, costs about $18. But every cent of the initial payout is well worth it, considering the huge savings in the long run. So far, our electricity bill has gone down about $50 a month since we’ve converted, definitely a huge cut in costs!
3. Embracing reusables.
This family has gotten rid of the plastic disposables and converted to reusables. We’ve stopped buying bottled water and carry our own aluminum water bottles everywhere, asking for the house tap in restaurants to refill when we go out (Isabel has a tiny pink one and she loves it!). I also use reusable bags to shop, whether in the supermarket or when buying from department stores or boutiques. It’s helped us not fill the garbage faster, and John loves that he doesn’t need to lug out bags so often.
4. Going vegetarian (at least one meal a week).
Meat costs a lot more than veggies and other healthy stuff if you only check the prices. Our family has gone vegetarian, but most households do not really want this option so reach a compromise. You can start with a meatless meal a week, and then do this more often once your family has gotten used to it. Your wallet and your pants will thank you for it.
Your home appliances don’t need to be plugged in all the time. This standby, phantom energy sucker (when your appliances continue to use energy even when turned off and plugged in) can amount to about 20 percent of your home electricity bill per month. Our family has gotten into the habit of unplugging, and also using a power strip that shuts off this energy for Isa’s room, so she doesn’t need to touch any wires.
Going eco-friendly is easier than most people think and benefits you more than you may ever know. Use these tips to get your family in the green, and save more greenbacks in the process!
This guest blog post was written by proud WAHM (work at home mom) Kristen Swope, who does freelance writing about everything from swimming pools to home lighting. She devotes most of her quality time to taking care of her five-year-old daughter Isabel, and being a loving companion to husband John. She lives in Fremont, California in a house with a kidney-shaped swimming pool.