It’s Easy Being Green (6 Easy Recycling Tips for Families)


Once I became a mom, my attention was focused on ensuring the best life for my daughter. I also want to teach my daughter to be empowered to make a change in her community and to see the value in being mindful of consumption. So, I set out to evaluate our current lifestyle and product use to determine where we could make changes. 

Here are the easy-to-implement changes I came up with that won’t require a total lifestyle overhaul (because let’s be real, that can seem overwhelming when you’re just trying to make it to bedtime.) 

1. Paper Products

My initial thought was that we needed to immediately stop using paper products and find something else like bamboo. But bamboo products aren’t as sustainable and eco-friendly as I thought, and it’s more expensive. That’s what prompted me to take a look at the paper products we already use. I was surprised to find the generic brand of paper products we use are part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an organization dedicated to sustainable forest management and responsible procurement of forest products around the world. 

The (easy to miss) label on the bottom of the packaging tells the buyer that materials used in the product and packing come from non-controversial sources that comply with the guidelines set by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. 

So that’s awesome! I was already helping the environment without knowing it (and you probably are, too!)

2. It’s all about packaging.

‘Green’ and ‘natural’ companies have great marketing and packaging that seemingly make it easy to choose that brand. Especially for busy moms who just want to do the best we can. 

But if you look beyond the packaging, you may find what you need and want, just with a slightly different presentation. It’s a lot like life in general, isn’t it? What we think we want or need can be influenced by appearances. But you could be doing your part to save the planet for our children already, without even knowing it. 

Now if only the generic brands would work on their marketing…

And speaking of packaging, I’m now hyper-aware of the (unnecessary) packaging of so many products and foods. Even ‘green’ brands have single-use containers for their products. So, I’m finding alternative methods such as reusable soap bottles and cleansing tablets for hand soap, dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent, bath soap, and shampoo.

3. Make your mark with markers.

Crayola has a recycling program! It’s primarily targeted at schools, but you could approach your local library or mom groups to set up a program for non-school aged kids. There are also more green efforts Crayola is doing to check out.

4. Clean up your morning coffee routine.

My morning coffee is an essential part of my day. It’s also an easy part of our lifestyle to stop using single-use plastics. Our coffee maker has a reusable filter, so no need to buy paper ones. I found myself drinking a lot of cold brew during the summer, so rather than buying a plastic jug from the store every week, I decided to make my own using the Toddy Cold Brew System. Cold-brew can also be warmed up and tastes delicious, so it still works great during cold months. I cut the plastic use and brewed better coffee –win-win! 

5. City of OKC recycling programs 

The City of Oklahoma City made a commitment to help residents recycle by making it easier with the new big green recycling bin. It’s so fulfilling to see our big green totally full with things that would’ve otherwise been trashed. There’s even a handy guide right on top showing what items can be recycled. You can also go online to see exactly what can be recycled and the best way to do it, to make sure it doesn’t cause even more of an environmental problem (tip: wash out everything).

Also, did you know that you can recycle plastic bags? So the plastic bag that is storing other plastic bags under your sink can be recycled and no longer has to take up residence in your home (hooray!) This includes plastic grocery bags, food bags, storage bags, the bags inside of cereal boxes and more. There are recycling collection areas at the front of Target and Walmart stores where you can leave your plastic materials. 

6. Make it fun for kids.

I love it when I see the little lightbulb go off in my daughter’s eyes when she gets something. So one day we spent the day learning about and doing things related to recycling. On recycling day, we took a walk and watched all the recycling trucks pick up the bins and empty them into their truck. She was fascinated! She also is really into big trucks right now, so I’m sure that’s why she was in awe. Then we watched a Sesame Street episode all about recycling (have I mentioned how much I love this programming?) and went to Green Bambino to get some recycled plates and cups. Green bambino carries Re-play dishes that are great quality and made out of recycled milk bottles! 

I hope this will teach her to respect her planet, show her how things work and the value of materials, and most importantly, that she does have the power to make a positive impact in her community.

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Susanne lives in an old neighborhood in central OKC with her husband, daughter (2) and two rowdy dogs and one cat. She works as a freelance writer and personal trainer specializing in pre/postnatal fitness. When she's not momming or working, she enjoys working out, reading, being outside, and being creative with recipes and homemade products. And she's always up for a good coffee, local beer, pizza or great workout. Follow her for mom hacks, recipes and workout tips on Instagram.


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