Do you want to decrease your family’s impact on the environment but are not sure where to start? Whether you need some ideas that take very little time or money, or are happy to invest in your environmental footprint, this guide will provide you with some inspiration.

The best ways to greening your home are to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reducing and reusing should be your top priorities as recycling still takes a lot of energy.

Baby steps:

Reduce your waste:

  • Take your own reusable bags to the supermarket, make sure you include some small bags for fresh produce and a chiller bag for frozen or cold items
  • Take your own containers when you get takeaways
  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging
  • Ask your child’s school to send you notices and newsletter by email
  • Switch all your bills to electronic copies rather than paper
  • Put a no junk mail sign on your letterbox
  • Use hankies instead of tissues
  • Use washable cloths instead of paper towels
  • Cut down on plastic wrap. Use a plate to cover bowls in the fridge or microwave, buy reusable sandwich bags or lunch boxes with dividers so you don’t need to wrap food
  • Don’t use a plastic rubbish bin liner, just wash your bin out when you empty it
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Donate quality goods to an op shop rather than throwing them away

Reduce your consumption:

  • Consider if you really need something before you buy it. Upsizing your TV? Want a new phone? If you don’t really need it, then leave it on the shelf
  • Choose items that are made in New Zealand or state they are a product of New Zealand to save on food miles
  • Buy quality appliances are energy and water efficient, and will last for a long time
  • Use eco friendly lightbulbs
  • Join the library rather than buying books, and the toy library instead of buying more toys
  • Water your garden at night to prevent water loss through evaporation

Reuse and recycle:

  • Find out what your city council accepts and put a box somewhere handy where recycling can easily be stored
  • Choose products made from recyclable packing
  • Buy secondhand items where possible. TradeMe, op shops and freecycle can be great sources for secondhand goods.

Bigger steps:

Reduce your waste:

  • Compost your food scraps. If you don’t have much outdoor space consider a bokashi system which can be kept inside and doesn’t smell
  • Use cloth nappies instead of disposables
  • Make your own crackers, biscuits and cakes
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Start menu planning to prevent food waste
  • Keep a bucket in your shower to collect the water that is run while you are waiting for it to heat up.

Reduce your consumption:

  • Share big items that aren’t used frequently with your neighbours or friends. You could have a communal lawnmower, sewing machine, food processor, and more
  • Cut up old clothes to use as rags instead of buying special cloths or paper towels
  • Consider working from home a few days per week.

Even bigger steps:

Reduce your waste:

  • Consider using cloth squares instead of toilet paper. This is really easy if you use cloth nappies, keep the nappy bucket and a pile of clean cloths by the loo and chuck the used cloths in with the nappies so they can be washed together

Reduce your consumption:

  • Replace your lawn with a vegetable garden. Lawns use a lot of water and energy to keep looking nice, use those resources to grow food instead!
  • Install a rainwater tank to water your garden
  • If you are building or renovating:
    • Consider alternative energy sources such as solar or wind
    • Use sustainable flooring such as carpet made from recycled materials
    • Use eco friendly paints and wallpapers
    • Use passive energy to retain heat in winter and cool the house in summer.

Our articles on saving power and eco-friendly cleaning products will give you even more ideas. We would love to hear your tips: what are the easiest changes you have made to live more sustainably?

Further reading:






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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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