by Jody Kerzman
The idea of living “green” can be overwhelming. Families are busy, and adopting a green lifestyle might seem like just another chore to add to the already too long list of things to do. But it doesn’t have to be.

“We are all busy,” said Amelia Doll, NDSU Extension Agent and mother of two. “That’s why it is so important we teach our kids at a young age how to help live a little greener. Kids can, and should, help. We grew up with a healthy earth and we want our kids to have a healthy earth too. It is important we teach them to leave it better than how we found it.”

Doll says simple things like wearing the same pajamas a few nights in a row instead of wearing a new pair every night can make a big difference.

“You’re doing less laundry, using less water, and using less energy,” she said. “Plus, do your kids really get their pajamas dirty? Probably not.”

Doll suggests getting kids involved in recycling as well. Teach them to identify the recycle logo and encourage them to look for items that have that symbol.

“Collecting recyclable items and taking those items to the recycling bin is a great way to get kids involved and to start the conversation about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling,” Doll said. “A compost bin is another great thing do with kids. They love seeing how their orange peels turn into dirt they can use in the garden.”

Doll says the first step is talking to your kids about the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. She says talking about these steps in passing, as you’re cooking supper or driving to school is a great way to plant the seed in your child’s brain.

“First, we need to reduce the amount of waste we are creating. This can be as simple as getting a reusable travel mug so you’re not throwing away a paper coffee cup every morning. Next, look for ways to reuse what you can. For example, turn an empty milk jug into a bird feeder,” said Doll. “And finally, if there’s nothing you can do with that aluminum can, recycle it.”

“The earth is a natural resource,” said Shaundra Ziemann-Bolinske, NDSU Extension Agent. “That is not something we can replace. We need to minimize our footprint. It’s not just ‘going green.’ We need to live an environmentally responsible life.”

She emphasizes that choosing to live an environmentally responsible life doesn’t have to be difficult. It might just be a matter of looking at your life in categories, and finding simple ways to can make each category a little greener. Here are some examples that even the busiest family can incorporate into their daily routine that will not only help the environment, but also your pocketbook.

*Place furniture, such a reading chairs and desks, in areas that allow to take advantage of natural light.
*Consider a light color on the walls. Lighter paint colors minimize the need for artificial lighting.
*Use a circulating fan, such as a ceiling or floor fan. During the summer, ceiling fans allow you to increase your thermostat temperature by about 4-degrees while maintaining the same level of comfort. However, turn off the ceiling fan when you leave the room. Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, by producing a wind-chill effect.
*Instead of turning up the thermostat on a chilly night, add another blanket.
*Don’t run the dishwasher until you have a full load and don’t use the dry cycle.
*Use a clothesline or drying rack instead of the dryer. If you do use the dryer, take advantage of a heated dryer by drying two or more loads in a row.
*Turn the water off when brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving.
*Limit showers to three or four minutes.
*Think before you print; use both sides of the paper if you do print a document. Email documents whenever possible.
*Pay bills online.
*Recycle printer and toner cartridges.
*Carpool to work or to run errands.

For more ideas on helping your family go green visit