Photo: A regular family goes green

The Smiths, one year after their green makeover! (Credit: Melanie Smith)

One year ago, mother of four Melanie Smith decided she wanted her kids to grow up with lower environmental footprints. One year later, Melanie dishes about the small, eco-friendly steps that changed the way she feeds her family.

Queen of Green: one vegetarian meal a week

MS: We've taken it up a notch, now doing two to three veggie meals a week (and nobody notices). I use and They're easy sites to navigate and the recipes have simple, kid-friendly ingredients. A weekly staple was spaghetti with meat sauce. I replaced the ground beef with colourful sautéed peppers—the kids love the colours and don't miss the meat. Other quick and easy dishes that my kids will eat with no complaints are the veggie and pasta toss recipes, and cheddar-broccoli and salsa quiches.

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Queen of Green: more organic foods

MS: You'll now find organic apples, carrots, grape tomatoes, juice, cereals, sugar, jam, and more in our fridge or pantry. I make it a habit to cruise the organics aisle at the grocery store to pick up things when they are on sale—many are the same price as non-organic ones—now, if they would only come in the large family packages! My city, St. Albert, Alberta, doesn't always have the best selection available, but I try to buy organic varieties of the things the kids eat a lot, like applies and tomatoes. I don't use plastic produce bags anymore either. Now, I just put fruit and veggies right into my cart or load them in the fantastic organic cotton mesh produce bags I bought.

The Smiths blew my socks off with the changes they made in one year — composting, DIY green cleaning products, rain barrels, killing zombie electronics, greening birthday parties, and more.

Do you have a "Smiths" in your life? Maybe a friend or relative who claims to be "green" but only recycles? Melanie knew there was more she could do, she just had no clue where to start.

Who will you coach through a "green" makeover? me+youBags.jpg

Post a comment on this blog about your plan and enter to win two locally made, natural cotton cloth bags donated by Me and You... (one for you and one for your "green" makeover candidate)! Tell me how it went, and I'll also post your story.

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

November 21, 2011

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Mar 02, 2012
6:54 PM

Lindsay I was wondering which brand of mesh cotton produce bag you were using?

Dec 06, 2011
4:52 PM

Thanks for taking the time to share your stories…the winner is Sara! I’ll be in touch to mail you both of the bags, Sara.

Lindsay Coulter

Dec 01, 2011
8:16 PM

The title and image of this article sends the message that any family that is not white, heterosexual, two-parented, and upper class is not a regular family. I suggest, "A family goes green".

Dec 01, 2011
1:14 PM

I installed a ductless air heat pump a couple of days ago. Since then, it has been heating the entire house, including the basement, because I have a "recirculate" mode on my air exchanger. So, I feel that I am heating the whole house for the price of one electric baseboard heater. Will have o wait until I see my electric bill. Doing everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint, Terry Thomas

Nov 25, 2011
2:24 PM

@m. mclean

What a great idea! You save a live tree but you still get to enjoy that lovely evergreen scent throughout the holidays.

And for those who don't have evergreens in their garden, a pruned deciduous branch is also a great alternative to a live tree. My mother tried this last year and she started a new tradition!

Nov 24, 2011
10:51 PM

Ooooh and I forgot to add — although Britt would love a makeover from DSF's Queen of Green, I've already used my crafty Christmas skills to help her repurpose clothes pins for electronics organizers, to makeover ornaments with paper mache (recycled newspaper), and to reuse egg cartons to hold homemade holiday muffins for the office! (We got a little carried away)! A glass of organic Okanagan wine didn't hurt the sustainable creativity either! :)

Nov 24, 2011
10:33 PM

Wow — great question and so many places (people) to start! The Smiths are an extraordinary testament to the sustainable decisions we can make daily, and are an absolutely inspirational influence to both sustainability beginners and gurus!

Recycling is a great start to one's sustainability journey

Nov 23, 2011
8:56 AM

For a few years now I have been using my own "save a tree" at Christmas and sharing the tip with my friends who have embraced the idea. I pile my tomato cages into one another, turn them upside down, place them onto a pot (of earth or rocks) and secure them with a couple of cut wire clothes hangers. From here I set about "pruning" bits of green cedar, pine etc from my garden

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