Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

It’s Easy Being Green
Four simple ways to “go green” as a family

by Abby Hayes

April 01, 2013

We all want to help the environment where we can so that our world will be beautiful for our children and grandchildren someday. But the idea of “going green” can be a little overwhelming.

How do you find ways to go green while managing a busy family? Do it together! Going green as a family is more fun – and more effective! Try these four suggestions to go green this month:

1. Shop locally

Food from local sources is a wonderful green option, since it requires much less gas and transportation time to get from the grower to your table.

Indy-area residents have a fabulous local shopping option in the City Market. The market features everything from ripe tomatoes to fresh-baked bread. City Market’s Executive Director Stevi Stoesz says that when you shop at the market, you can connect directly with the people who produce food and hand-craft other goods. “You know that you’re talking to people that live within your community,” says Stoesz, “and you’re supporting them by spending your dollar in a way that supports your community.”

A weekly trip to the Market also allows you to introduce your children to new foods while reducing your eco-footprint. For more information on City Market’s vendors, farmer’s market or special events, check out their website at

Zionsville’s Trader’s Point Creamery is another way to enjoy local fare. The creamery crafts its dairy products from milk produced by its grass-fed cattle herd. The Trader’s Point website says, “We want you to know the animals who produced your food and see the fields where they get their food,” which is why you can also take a farm tour- a great way for kids to learn about what they are eating. Find out more at

2. Take a home energy challenge

How can you reduce energy usage when you can’t even get your kids to turn off a light when they leave a room? Make it a competition! Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), which serves all of Marion County and areas of surrounding counties, has the tools to help you make it happen.

According to Energy Efficiency Program Manager Glenn Livers, IPL offers several tools to help your family save energy at home – and have fun doing it! One web-based tool, PowerView, lets you see exactly how much energy your home uses on a daily basis. Livers says that the tool also “shows how your household is doing in comparison with other households.”

Another online tool, the Home Energy Inspector, shows where you’re wasting energy. After an audit, IPL will send you an energy efficiency kit including CFL light bulbs and low-flow shower heads.

“It’s funny how if you introduce the element of comparison and competition, people get much more interested,” says Livers. To get your family started in the competition, check out

3. Try cloth diapers

Cloth diapers are eco-friendly, cute and easier to use than you’d think!

According to Josh Burress, using and washing cloth diapers is easy. Burress co-owns Toasty Baby, Indy’s only dedicated cloth-diapering store, with his wife Joanna. Using cloth diapers, even part-time, is a great way to go green.

Burress says that the average family’s trash output doubles when they have a child in diapers. This makes disposable diapers one of the country’s worst landfill offenders. “Disposables basically take forever to decompose. We’re talking hundreds of years!” says Burress. So those disposable diapers your infant is wearing will still be taking up space in a landfill when his great-grandkids are born.

If you’re curious about cloth, give Toasty Baby a call. The store runs a biweekly Cloth Diapering 101 class where they talk about today’s cloth diapering options, wash routines and the cost of cloth diapers.

4. Plan a vegan night

In general, vegan and vegetarian diets are better for the environment, since growing and producing meat is heavily water and energy intensive. But you can have a positive impact by giving up animal products just one or two nights a week.

Indianapolis-based vegan chef and owner of Killer Tofu, Ian Phillips, encourages families interested in vegan cooking to be creative. Try ethnic foods, or pick a recipe from a vegan website.

Just don’t expect meat substitutes to taste just like the real thing. “If you anticipate that this block of seitan or this block of tempeh is the same thing as a sirloin steak,” says Phillips, “it’s not going to work.” Instead, Phillips says, families should “learn to enjoy the process, and have fun cooking. Enjoy trying to develop new flavors!”

As you can see, there are more ways to go green than just using less gas in the car. Try these four options to get your whole family involved!