This post is sponsored by Georgia-Pacific; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The commitment to live an eco-conscious lifestyle and to appreciate nature is ingrained in me. My parents taught me about sustainability and ways to respect the earth from a young age. I went on to be the president of my high school’s environmental club and then interned with a large environmental non-profit throughout college. After school, I worked full time as a designer for an eco-friendly clothing label for 14 years. And since becoming a parent, I’ve consistently sought and practiced ways to teach my children about different ways we can help our earth. I’m certainly not a perfect environmentalist by any means, but I make the effort to do my best.
A big part of living a lifestyle that helps (rather than hurts) the earth is to focus on conserving natural resources. In simple terms, natural resources are resources that come from that nature that people can utilize. Basically, anything not made by humans is a natural resource – water, forests, air, land, fossil fuels, minerals, sunshine, animals, soil, etc. The only way to preserve a healthy environment is to use these natural resources sustainably and responsibly. Today, I want to share some of the ways my family and I try to do this in our daily lives.
1. Get outside and experience nature.
Getting out and enjoying nature may not be a direct way to conserve natural resources, but it is probably the most important step for teaching kids (and reminding ourselves!) why it is important. When you love and appreciate something, you want to take care of it. We live in an urban environment in the midwest, but there are still so many ways for us to experience the wonderful natural parts of our planet. Our favorite is walking and hiking throughout our local forest preserves, as can be seen in the photos throughout this post!
2. Choose sustainable products for your home.
We always make an effort to purchase products that are earth-friendly, from reusable water bottles to hemp clothing to recycled goods to organic foods. When it comes to paper products, we are big fans of Georgia-Pacific. They not only continuously work to reduce their impact on the environment as a company, they also make products with the earth in mind. We love their Aria® Earth-Friendly Toilet Paper, which is made from responsibly sourced trees with 100% renewable power, and comes in 52% plant-based, recyclable packaging. (Their paper towel and napkins come in 94% plant-based packaging.) Aria also plants 3 new trees for every single tree used, is manufactured in North American/US, and is Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified.
3. Plant trees.
When we moved into our home two years ago, there wasn’t a single tree in our yard. We have planted one so far and plan to plant as many as possible over the years. Trees give us oxygen, prevent soil erosion, provide habitats for wildlife, and maintain our ecosystem. This is another thing we love about Georgia-Pacific – they commit to planting trees, with a 1:1 philosophy. This means that for every one tree they use, they plant at least one more in the U.S. Their Aria line plants three new trees for every tree used.
4. Conserve water at home.
This is such a simple, easy way to do our part and can be implemented in small ways. We turn off the tap when brushing our teeth and washing our hands, we take short showers, we reuse water from our kiddie pool to water the garden, and we use a washing machine that uses less water and only wash full loads, in cold water.
Even after all these years, recycling continues to be one of the best and easiest ways to conserve natural resources. When an aluminum can is recycled, it uses 5% of the energy that it takes to make a new can. 60,000 gallons of water are saved for every ton of paper that is recycled. And recycled products greatly reduce greenhouse emissions. (Yet another reason I love Georgia-Pacific is that their GP Harmon Recycling subsidiary purchases more than 6 million tons of recovered paper annually to be recycled.)
6. Eat less meat.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 15, and even though my husband and kids do eat meat, most of our family meals are vegetarian. We talk to our kids about how eating meat a few times a week rather than everyday helps conserve natural resources. Just one pound of beef, for example takes 2,400 gallons of water. We also try to buy meat from local farms when we can.
7. Reduce electricity use at home.
Just like conserving water at home, conserving electricity is an easy way to make a difference. We always turn off lights when we leave a room. (It’s a rule in our house!) We also use Compact fluorescent lamps, LED lightbulbs, and Halogen incandescent lightbulbs, which last longer and use 25% to 80% less energy than regular incandescent light bulbs. We also open windows rather than using the AC whenever possible, and unplug chargers and appliances when not in use.
8. Support brands who do good.
Finding brands who do their part to conserve natural resources and reduce their environmental impact is crucial in my family’s commitment to be eco-conscious. For example, we appreciate and support GP‘s efforts to do these things by re-planting trees and restoring forest ecosystems, supporting conservation initiatives, contributing to the protection of endangered species, and promoting wildlife diversity. They do good beyond just environmental responsibility too, by working to help individuals and communities in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting underfunded local fire departments with their Bucket Brigade Program, and supporting communities through volunteerism organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
These are just a few ways that we make an effort to help conserve natural resources as a family. If you have other ways you do the same, I would love to hear about them!