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The family that greens together

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By Cynthia Ramnarace
From Green Goes Simple

My daughter, Mira, whines each time I ask her to take a shower instead of a bath. She loves to lounge in a full tub, adding in more hot water as necessary. So, to convince my 6-year-old of the virtues of a water-saving shower, I appealed to her inner earth-lover.

A bath uses at least 70 gallons of water according to the Environmental Protection Agency. "Seventy!?" she gasped. A quick shower can easily use just half of that or less. Armed with this information, we've now moved past our bath-time battles, and I eagerly await the savings on my water bill as well as my gas bill.

Limiting water usage is just one way families work together to be earth friendly and wallet savvy. Here are some other ways I've encouraged my family to save resources.

Don't Buy -- Borrow
A voracious reader, Mira can tear through the latest Junie B. Jones in a single afternoon. So why buy the book -- which will end up at the back of the bookshelf, or worse, in the garbage can -- when I can borrow it? Set up book swaps between your child's friends and schedule regular library trips. And remember to set your online calendar to remind you when books are due to avoid late fees.

Buy Used Toys
Video games are pricey! My kids' Leapster cartridges go for $20 a pop. Instead, I buy used games at a fraction of the price. I recently purchased five used Leapster games for $29 from eBay. Score one for Mom!

Make Your Own Gifts
Luckily for me, my crafty daughter keeps me out of the greeting card aisle. All Mira needs is some construction paper, glitter glue and markers, and she creates something more precious than I could ever find in a store. And cards are just the start. We've discovered that food coloring makes homemade, oh-so-easy meringue cookies a festive gift for any holiday. Think pink for Valentine's Day or yellow for Easter. And at Christmas time, we make our own ornaments to give out to friends we visit.

The next time your child asks you for something, encourage him or her to think of ways they can get what they want without spending money. Odds are the answer will also inspire you to live a little greener!

Cynthia Ramnarace is a freelance writer in Queens, N.Y. She is a regular contributor to iVillage.com and AARP Bulletin. Her work also appears frequently in American Baby and Kiwi magazines.

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