Good Green Fun: Be an Eco-Conscious Family
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Good Green Fun: Be an Eco-Conscious Family

Our games and projects make saving the planet a family affair.

You're no doubt already recycling in your house, but there's lots more the whole family can do for Mother Earth. And it doesn't have to be a chore -- if you inject some creativity (and add a little competition), you'll discover it's not only easy being green but fun, too! We've got four great ideas to try.

Tree-Hugger Trimmings

Think outside the box and challenge everyone to make recycled birthday cards and gift wrap using what's already in the house. Cover a child's gift in the Sunday comics, wrap a graduation present in the classified ads (circle the funniest want ads with a red grease pencil), and use the daily crossword for an avid puzzler and outdated road maps for a travel lover. Cut out pictures from old greeting cards to make fun gift tags.

Light Brigade

Leave a single light on for one year and it will burn 714 pounds of coal and create 1,852 pounds of carbon dioxide. If your family's forgetting to flip the switch, try having an "energy challenge." Each month make one person the light monitor; anyone he or she catches leaving the lights on has to pay a fine. If everyone goes one week without being fined, celebrate with a special treat, like ice cream sundaes for dessert or family movie night.

The Family That Cooks Together

Save food by having an Iron Chef leftover competition: Once or twice a week family members take turns creating new dishes with what's in the fridge. Prizes awarded monthly! You can also make your own fertilizer by composting leftovers like coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, and eggshells. Add worms for faster results and more kid appeal. For a composting primer, visit epa.gov.

Trash for Cash

Spare the landfill and have a yard sale. Give everyone in your family a job -- manager, salesperson, cashier, or promoter. Then decide as a family how you will use the profits. Better yet, give the stuff away. Just about everything, including eyeglasses (neweyesfortheneedy.org), cell phones (donateaphone.com), and prom dresses (glassslipperproject.org) can be donated to charity. Or find a taker at freecycle.org.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, March 2009.

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