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Photo courtesy of Melissa Colonno

4 Colorado Families Lowering Their Environmental Impacts

Gather inspiration from other Colorado parents to make your family a little greener.

Colonno Family

Melissa, Dan, Willa (7), Cameron (5) and Zoë (2)

Blog: Deliberate.Less

For at least 10 years, Melissa and her husband have lived a relatively earth-friendly lifestyle; cloth-diapering their children, buying clothes from consignment stores, and grocery shopping with reusable bags and containers. About three years ago, they decided to move their family to central Denver, where they would be able to live life without relying on a car. They sold one of their two cars, and now only drive a few times per month. They prioritize a “hyper local” lifestyle to reduce their environmental footprint and improve their quality of life.

What is your family’s personal mission when it comes to earth-friendly living?

Just like the title of my blog, Deliberate.Less, our goal is to make very deliberate decisions about how we live our life. We think carefully about the things we bring into our life and the causes we support. We try to resist the tendency to over-schedule our family and instead strive to find a slower pace of life whenever possible.

What is the easiest part of your journey to greener living?

Two things! First off, composting. Because I live in Denver where the city collects compost weekly (for a fee), it is very easy to compost all our food scraps and yard waste. Secondly, choosing to bike and walk most places was an easy change for me to make. When I realized how driving less was a very effective way to reduce our family’s carbon emissions, it became an even easier choice to make regularly.

What was the hardest?

Reducing the amount of trash my children create at parties and other gatherings.

What is your best earth-friendly tip for other parents?

Follow one simple guiding principle: refuse single-use everything. Not just straws, water bottles, and coffee cups, but also baby wipes, single-serving snacks, juice boxes, balloons, dryer sheets, and more. There are easy substitutions for all of these items. Making this one mental change can help improve the health of both your family and the environment.

Ekberg Family

Natalia, Andrew, Daniel (7), Alex and Stefan (4)

Instagram: @raisinggeneco

Natalia and her husband both had low-impact childhoods, but having children made them realize how wasteful parenting and the convenience mantra could be. For 10 years, she’s been working on consciously living an eco-friendly lifestyle, but recent reports on global warming raised an urgency for bigger action in her family and community.

What is your family’s personal mission when it comes to earth-friendly living?

Empowering love and respect for nature and lowering our family’s carbon, and overall, footprint are two driving forces behind our family’s everyday decisions and the focus of my Instagram page. The side effects of this lifestyle so far seem to be resilient, happy and healthy kids.

What was the easiest part of your journey to greener living?

To stop using a dryer for clothes. Colorado’s dry air makes it very easy for clothes to air dry fast on an indoor rack, which helps them last longer and offers our children a very eco-friendly chore.

What was the hardest?

Transportation: living in a suburb requires daily driving. While we enjoy better air quality, less noise pollution, and a good amount of green spaces, we could greatly benefit from a wider system of biking trails and wider sidewalks that would safely connect schools, shops, parks, and recreation centers. Airfare is also a challenge with family members in another state and out of the country.

What is your best earth-friendly tip for other parents?

Educate yourself on the state of climate issues and try to apply an “eco-lens” to your everyday decisions, from shopping to waste and energy management to kids’ classrooms and birthday parties.

Maciula Family

Kathryn, Patrick, Joseph (5) and Loddie (3)

Coal Creek Canyon
Instagram: @maciulamountainschool

Kathryn’s earth-friendly lifestyle started after she says her family suffered from benzene poisoning due to poor air quality from fracking. They chose to move to the mountains for the clean air and began thinking about all forms of pollution that affect their lives.

What is your family’s personal mission when it comes to earth-friendly living?

Our hope is to spend as much time as possible outside and to teach our children to cherish our planet. Our goal is to spend 1000 hours outside in 2020.

What was the easiest part of your journey to greener living?

Switching to homemade cleaning products in order to avoid harmful chemicals was super easy! And cheaper. We do all of our cleaning with baking soda and vinegar.

What was the hardest?

Making the move up to the mountains and getting used to mountain life has been a huge adjustment after living in the suburbs our whole lives. It can be difficult, but so worth it.

What is your best earth-friendly tip for other parents?

Don’t feel like you need to make all the changes at once. Take inventory of your home and life and determine where you can take small steps. And just get outside! The more you and your children love and appreciate the natural world, the easier it is to find the motivation to make those changes.

Photo courtesy of Noel Killebrew

Killebrew Family

Noel, Derek, Björn (3), and Orson (1 month)

Blog: Zero Waste Maker

Noel was inspired by Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man book and documentary during college. “I turned my college apartment upside down taking his no impact challenge,” she says. “My favorite part of the experiment was learning to sew my own reusables, which really stuck.” Not long after college graduation, Noel started dating her now husband and they built their life together with her sustainable habits as part of their foundation. Noel uses her creativity to make items her family needs, sewing, knitting, and crafting her way to a low-waste lifestyle.

What is your family’s personal mission when it comes to earth-friendly living?

Make more, consume less. We love upcycling, DIY, and creative problem solving. Can we use what we have to make more of the things we want and need? By inserting ourselves into the manufacturing process we slow down the cycle of consumption. It’s our goal to create a life we love with intention and to make the most of what we have.

What was the easiest part of your journey to greener living?

Bringing my own travel mug was easiest. Even as a child, I carried a canteen everywhere with me.

What was the hardest?

Changing our traveling habits has been the hardest. My husband and I both dislike biking. We have yet to make public transit with infants and toddlers work for day-to-day commuting, and we travel by plane regularly to visit family.

What is your best earth-friendly tip for other parents?

Figure out what you love and build from there. Whether it’s gardening, frugality, biking, whales, fast fashion, national parks, animal agriculture, cloth diapers, or whatever, find the issue that speaks most to you and start somewhere.

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