Easy earth-saving actions for families
We all know that everybody, including kids, has to do their part to protect the environment. But sometimes it’s hard to get started! To help you get your family on a greener path, tbjkids has compiled these practical eco tips for Beijing households with the help of Global Village of Beijing and Green Choice Beijing.
Cut down on energy consumption by turning off the lights. Kids can be reminded with simple signs around the house – to make things fun, get your kids to draw their own. If your family is studying Chinese, post bilingual signs.
Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. While energy-efficient bulbs cost a bit more than regular bulbs, they use up to 80% less electricity, resulting in energy bill savings. Philips is a popular brand that you can buy at most supermarkets (RMB 28 for an 18-watt bulb) – look for the words “energy efficient” or “energy saving” (in English) on the packaging. When you make the big switch, get your kids to help, and use the opportunity to give them a mini-lesson in energy reduction.
Vacuum the Beijing dust off the condenser coils of your refrigerator. This will help the fridge run more efficiently, and it will use less energy. Let foods cool off completely before placing them in the fridge, and make sure the fridge’s temperature is not set too low.
Don’t leave appliances in standby mode. Get your kids to help you turn off computer monitors, printers, stereos, televisions, DVD players, etc. when they’re not in use – make a pre-bedtime sweep of all outlets part of your kids’ daily routine. Using a power strip with a single on/off switch lets you easily turn off a bunch of appliances at once.
The international standard for freshwater is a minimum 1,000 cubic meters of freshwater available per capita annually; Beijing’s rate is just 300 cubic meters. In short, our city suffers from a serious water shortage. Ask your kids to become water wastage detectives and to tell an adult whenever they discover a leaking tap. Fixing a leaky faucet can save up to 120 liters of water a day!
Teach your kids to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth. At bedtime one night, conduct an experiment: plug the drain in the bathroom sink, get your kids brushing, and leave the water running. They’ll quickly see for themselves how much water gets wasted. If you’ve got real little scientists, you can even measure the water in the sink with a measuring cup or drinking glass.
A staggering 79% of air pollution in Beijing is due to cars. Try to walk, ride your bike, or take public transportation (taxis don’t count!). Explore the city with your kids by bicycle. Or figure out bus routes together on Beijing Bus (Chinese only).
Buy seasonal produce from your neighborhood market. Skip the over-packaged vegetables sold in supermarkets. Or better yet, buy organically grown food. Organic foods are sold at Carrefour stores, Pricemarts, and international stores such as Pacific Plaza, the Friendship Store, Jenny Lou’s, and April Gourmet. Look for the “China Organic Product” seal.
Beijingers use and discard over 2.3 billion plastic bags a year. Next time you go shopping, bring your own bags. Put kids on BYOB duty.
China produces over 45 billion pairs of chopsticks a year. When you get takeout, leave behind the disposable chopsticks, and use the ones at home.
Donate old clothing, books, toys, electronics, and other household items to local charities. Many NGOs around Beijing will take used items; Sun Village, a group home for children, accepts donations of used children’s items, electronics, and furniture.
Purchase the large, 20-liter jugs of water for your household and try to avoid the small ones. Make a recycling spot in your home, and have your kids help separate out recyclables. Most paper, glass, and metals as well as some plastics can be recycled at your local community collection center. You will even get a few kuai back – this can go to your kids as payment for recycling duties rendered. Ask around in your neighborhood or log on to www.bjfpw.com (Chinese only) to find your nearest collection site.