Be a Salamander Superhero with 24 Sustainable Activities

Sustainability is for everyone. You can make a difference! April is Earth Month, and we’re issuing a challenge to you and your family: can you be a Salamander Superhero by changing some of your habits this month? Try out the activities below – they’ll help you gain more of a sense of how you use resources like our new “living” Hitchcock Center. It can be fun to take actions that minimize waste and litter, save water and money, and strengthen our community’s viability, too. Help make our world cleaner and healthier – be a Salamander Superhero!

Sustainable Activities

1. Be in charge of taking out the recycling binread more

Learn more about how MassDEP is continually working to maximize waste reduction, recycling and composting, and ensure the safe management, reuse and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes.

2. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid using new plastic bagsread more

Did you know plastic bags take hundreds of years to photodegrade? Most plastic bags are used for minutes and then discarded. They are expensive to recycle, dangerous for wildlife, and are produced using our limited natural gas and petroleum resources. See how the City of Northampton recognized this issue and took action to ban plastic bag use in the City.

3. Go for a walk outside and notice 5 different plants, birds and animalsread more

Find something you want to identify.

4. Turn the water off while brushing your teethread more

You may have seen this ad during the Super Bowl, reminding us to turn off the water as we brush our teeth.

5. Collect water outside and use it to water plantsread more

Here are 5 fun and easy ways to collect water for your garden.

6. Make sun tearead more

What is sun tea and how do you make it?

7. Teach a grandparent one of the activities on this list!read more

Grandparents teach us things all the time; return the favor!

8. Compost food scraps (exception — no meat)read more

Creating compost from food scraps, leaves and grass clippings results in rich soil for plants/crops while reducing waste. It’s easy, helps our planet and flowers and veggies love it! Check out Planet Natural or Rodale’s Organic Life to learn more about composting.

9. Fix something that’s broken—read more

Learning or using your repair skills allows you to keep a favorite or valued item while saving money. It also reduces waste at landfills – and offers a real sense of accomplishment! Want to learn how to repair what you have? Head on over to One Earth to look for instructions.

10. Buy something used rather than new—read more

Used items have a history/story, frequently are better made than new, and sometimes are no longer available new. Often you can save money, so why waste old “treasures”?!

11. Pack a no-waste lunch for yourself—read more

Since you know how much you typically eat, put together a healthy “just my size” lunch. You’ll be helping your family by doing it yourself, and you won’t waste food! Need some tips on creating a no-waste lunch?

12. Plan and carry out a meat-free week in your family’s home—read more

Eating meals rich with veggies, grains, beans and such are healthy and economical for your food budget — and are less costly to produce than animal-based foods. Try new recipes and foods, and have fun discovering easy, delicious meals. Need ideas? Try Real Simple.

13. Challenge yourself and your family to lower energy bills (electric, gas, etc) from last month.—read more

Find ways to cut back, like unplugging electronics which continue to draw on electricity even when turned off, turning down the heat, reducing time in the shower to save water, using the clothes dryer less to save gas or electricity. Looking for tips on how to make it happen? Try Mass Save and My Energy.

14. Find 5 ways that your family can send less trash to the landfill—read more

Keep in mind that reuse is essential to reduce waste. Minimizing usage of non-biodegradable items/materials such as plastics, and recycling whenever possible can shrink our landfills. For more thoughts to get you thinking check out Rethink Recycling and Pedal People.

15. Use Joe Smith’s method of drying your hands at school and other public places, or skip paper towels all together!—read more

Multiple paper towels create such waste! Instead, try the “Joe Smith” Method : Wash your hands; shake them 12 times over the sink; fold 1 paper towel in half and wipe your hands – that’s all! It really works! Don’t believe us? Listen to Joe tell it.

16. Gather up all your unwanted, broken and unused electronics and bring them to a recycling program—read more

Electronics are some of the worst polluters, and many can be fixed/repurposed for families, schools, small businesses that can’t afford new ones. Do you need to learn how or where to recycle? You can do some research at Mass.gov and All Green Recycling.

17. Ask your parents to use the cold water only setting on the clothes washer—read more

Saving the energy to heat water not only helps lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint, but also reduces potential clothes shrinkage! (Shrink the footprint, not clothes!)

18. Set up a clothesline and hang up your clothes to dry in the sun instead of using your dryer—read more

“Solar- drying” saves energy, reduces wear on fabrics, is so easy to use – and clothes smell great!

19. Plant a native flowering shrub or tree in your yard that bees or birds would love—read more

Plant in your yard a native flowering shrub or tree that bees & birds would love. Native plants, which need less intensive care and water, attract bees and birds necessary for pollination and insect control. Head over to New England Wild and American Horticultural Society for inspiration.

20. Have at least one hour of unplugged, green time a day—read more

Using your “natural energy” has benefits of reduced stress, better mental and physical health.

21. Plan a summer snack garden—ie. Sugar peas, cherry tomatoes…—read more

Whether you have a large, small – or no yard, there’s always room for a few vegetable and herb plants. They’re easy to grow, and can fit in pots and window boxes! The folks at Hadley Garden Center are always helpful for gardening tips, and there are lots of resources online too!

22. Plan a family meal with 5 local ingredients—read more

Local is fresh (yum!), healthy, and supports your community. Buying local also helps minimize transportation costs and emissions that pollute. How can you make buying local work for you? Check out Buy Local Food and Green Living Tips.

23. Find out where your water comes from and how it is cleaned—read more

Knowledge of the where and how leads to understanding our watersheds, the importance of taking care of them and the need for conservation. Read more at Water and Sewer (Springfield’s water and sewer commission) and Earth Easy.

24. Calculate your family’s “ecological footprint”—read more

Tabulate your uses and costs, and discover your impact. Remember – reduce, reuse, recycle is essential to minimize waste and maximize saving! Sound complicated? Check out Small Footprint Family to learn how you can calculate your footprint.

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