I love Earth Day. It's a great time to evaluate what you are already doing to conserve and find ways to make more of an impact. We already recycle and compost. We've planted several new trees. We use cloth napkins and use environmentally-safe cleaners. But, there was one big thing that we could do better. It was one thing that the girls could do themselves and feel like they were making a big difference. It was so simple. We need to turn out the lights!
According to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEAA), artificial lighting is responsible for 20% of a home's energy usage. Wow! We can easily reduce that percentage by turning off the lights when we leave a room and using natural light during the daytime.
The girls were very excited about this idea and wanted to help, but we knew we needed a few reminders. We grabbed a few blank index cards, markers, and tape. The girls made several "turn off the lights" signs, which were the perfect size to hang over (or under) our light switches.
We traveled through the house and hung up the signs in the rooms where we always forget to turn off the lights, especially in the bathrooms and the girls' bedroom.
So far, the reminders have been working wonderfully. I've been hearing my girls' verbal reminders to each other, "hey, you forgot to turn out the lights!" And, those switches have been flipped to "off" more times than not.
Earth Day may come only once a year, but you can put into practice earth-friendly habits any day of the year. You're never too young and you're never too old. Show your kids just how simple it is to make a difference and see how they take charge. Hey, all it takes is turning off the lights!
Make it a family adventure!
Cost: free (Don't go out and buy index cards if you don't have any. Just cut paper to size.)
Planning time: 10 minutes. It would be incredibly valuable to have a few statistics and facts on hand to share with the family. The U.S. Energy Information Administration's Energy Kids website is a fabulous resource.
Ages: 5 and up. Everyone of every age can benefit in picking up the habit of turning out the lights, but your kids 5 and up with find the information the most valuable.
Time needed: 30 minutes. Give yourself plenty of time to talk and brainstorm. Maybe this simple idea will lead to more conversation about other things you can do as a family to be more eco-friendly!