Emily Gardner belongs to the greenest family in Utah - at least Family Circle Magazine thinks so.
Emily, 13, entered her family in the "American Families Making a Difference" contest sponsored by Gitano, a clothing manufacturer, and Family Circle in October. In an essay sent to the magazine, Emily, daughter of David and Maralee Gardner of Provo, outlined what her family is doing to contribute to a greener Earth.The Gardner family's environmental activism was a hit with the contest judges, who named them the contest winner from the state of Utah. The family won a nature library, a camera, a globe pillow, a plaque and $50 gift certificates for each member of the family.
The Gardners were inspired to start thinking green by a lecture they heard on Earth Day (April 21) at Sundance.
"We just kind of went crazy from there," said Maralee Gardner. "We decided we could not save the entire world, but we could do a little bit."
The children started packing lunches to school in cloth sacks. Maralee Gardner made cloth grocery bags for the family to use while shopping.
At the store, the family began patronizing companies that use recycled products in their packaging. The family wrote thank you letters to the companies, letting them know they appreciate their efforts to be environmentally responsible.
One-year-old Elizabeth began wearing cloth rather than disposable diapers.
Maralee Gardner organized a recycling center in the family's garage, using cardboard boxes to hold glass, plastic containers, aluminum cans, cardboard and paper.
"My dad is in charge of taking it to the recycling center," Emily Gardner said.
Scott Gardner, 16, bags the newspapers and smashes all the aluminum cans. Chris Gardner, 5, takes degradeable scraps from the kitchen to the backyard compost pile and keeps the pile watered so it will decompose.
"My sister and I collected (parade programs) at the Fourth of July Parade in Provo and at the 24th of July Parade in Spanish Fork," Emily Gardner said.
The papers went straight to the recycling bin.
As a result of an article the family put in their neighborhood newsletter, two neighbors are now involved in recycling.
There's more: Maralee Gardner isn't just Maralee Gardner. She's also known as "Mother Earth" at Canyon Crest Elementary School in Provo. She set up a recycling program at the school and is helping to educate children there about being environmentally conscious.
"If everybody would do just a little bit, it would make such a difference," Maralee Gardner said. "I think the kids need to realize that the decisions they make even when they are little make a difference."