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As a parent, you’d like your home, community, and children’sschools to be greener. Unfortunately, daily life can get in the wayof that. You have limited time and budget in which to make theworld around you a more sustainable place.

But fortunately, going green doesn’t have to be difficult,time-consuming or expensive. In fact, a smart and savvy parent cango green and save green at the same time. Here are a few easy waysyou can change the world for the better, and even have fun whileyou’re at it:

* Click it – Most children (and a lot of adults) have no ideawhere the power comes from. So leaving lots of lights on in thehouse is no big deal. Teaching kids the value (monetary andenvironmental) of turning out the lights they’re not using is adirect way to connect being greener with something your kids doevery day. You could even have competitions with your kids to seewho can turn out the lights the fastest.

* Slay vampires – Just because something’s off doesn’t mean it’snot still using electricity. While some newer appliances andgadgets are getting much better at using minimal electricity whileon standby (or “off”), many continue to be “energy vampires.” Cellphone chargers are infamous for using nearly the same, if not equalto, the electricity that’s used when charging a phone. Here againyou can make a game out of “slaying the vampires” with your kids.They have fun and you save money.

* Strip – Does the thought of unplugging and replugging cordsfor so many things make you think you’ll never stick to it? Easy –get a power strip for each cluster of things you have in the house(i.e., family room, kitchen, kids’ play room) and plug everythinginto those, rather than each in its own plug. Then, you can easilyturn several things off (and back on) at once. Even the mostaffordable power strips have the ability to have some dedicatedplugs for those “need to be plugged in” things like therefrigerator.

* Get trashy – As a parent you probably go through lots of foodfor your kids that comes in difficult- or impossible-to-recyclepackaging, as far as you know. There’s a company called TerraCyclethat makes products like umbrellas to backpacks, gardening productsto recycling bins from recycled trash. TerraCycle worksdirectly with the public, enlisting their help in the form of”brigades,” – self-organized groups of people, typically schools -that collect packaging.The newest collected product is Malt-O-Meal, the cereal company thatlong ago decided to “Bag the Box,” skipping the paper box that istypical of cereals; that alone already reducing the packaging by 75percent.

Kristen Burke, a third grade teacher at Signal Hill ElementarySchool in Manassas, Va., leads one of these brigades. “The more myclass and I began collecting, we truly began to look at trash in adifferent light,” she says. “It was no longer trash to us, instead,it was things that could be turned into new products, as well asmoney to help our school. While raising money for our school was awonderful incentive, it has become even more so during the times ofbudget cuts within our school. We have found a way to help ourschool and save the environment.”

But in the end, the smartest resource you may have for goinggreener may be right under your nose – your kids. Children areincreasingly green savvy, and they probably have a lot of great,creative ideas that you’d never think of. They get to be helpful,you learn some new things to do, and everybody – including theplanet – wins.

If you want to get started immediately in greening your home,try upcycling some of your own trash to make a wallet.

Food Wrapper Wallet

Materials:

1 clean, empty food package (at least 7 inches by 5 1/2 inchesin size)

1 ruler

1 pen

1 pair of scissors

tape

1 self-adhesive Velcro fastener

Directions:

1. Cut a rectangle that is 7 inches by 5 1/2 inches in thepackage. Centered inside the rectangle, draw a smaller rectanglethat is 4 inches by 2 1/2 inches. This smaller rectangle will be 11/2 inches from each edge.

2. From the top edge of the smaller rectangle, draw a semicirclethat intersects with the top of the large rectangle and the cornersof the small rectangle. Repeat for the other three sides. Cutaround these lines.

3. Fold in all four semicircles so your cut piece folds up tothe size of the small rectangle. Tape the bottom flap and two sideflaps in place.

4. Attach one side of the Velcro fastener on the inside of thetop flap. Fold down the flap so the other side of the Velcroattaches to the outside of the bottom flap.

If you’d like to join or start your own TerraCycle Brigade, goto www.terracycle.net.

Courtesy of ARAcontent