03/05/2013 02:31 pm ET Updated May 05, 2013

Help Your Kids to Become Eco-Action Detectives

My son and I just returned from a trip to REGUA (Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu), the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil, where centuries of deforestation have reduced the forest to 7 percent of its original size. We got to witness, firsthand, the success that two dedicated people -- Raquel and Nicholas Locke -- have had with the reforestation program. Lost and damaged habitats are being restored and lost species are being reintroduced where possible. Imagine what lots of people can do -- we can make a difference.

In a recent blog I explained how the economy and ecology are related. Now, I want your kids to get going as ECO-Action Detectives. It really doesn't matter what you do to start saving the world, but it is important to start doing something. Everything we do has an impact on the world. Everything has a cost -- ECOlogically and ECOnomically. Saving resources is the same whether it is money or electricity. Your kids need to know that the earth is fragile -- each use of electricity is generated and uses resources to be created. Each piece of food relies upon the environment, and uses energy to be harvested and distributed.

REGUA helps us to understand, in a real way, how precious every tree and drop of water is. Without the protection of the rainforest we will have the Sahara Desert as the landscape -- that's what happened. We just have to start this consciousness raising on a very local level.

You may not be lucky enough to visit a rainforest, but you can make a difference, and you can start right now without even leaving the house. Let's begin by having your kids go through your home looking for EEKs and EEPs and things that your family can do that will contribute to a healthier planet and a healthier family. As a bonus, your wallet should become "healthier" too.

Now you're asking "What are EEKs and EEPs?"

An EEK represents the sound that you make when you see something that is wrong or out of place or shocking. The sound reminds us that there is a problem. Shmootz, one of the characters in my iOS app, makes this sound to alert us of a problem. These problems can be inside or outside your home.

An EEP is what I call an ECO-EFFECT POINT because the point is that I want you to be aware of doing something that makes an ECOlogical difference for the world. Your kids get an EEP when an EEK is fixed. This is similar to the term "carbon credit" that you hear about in the news.

Some EEKs and EEPs to Get Your "Detectives" Started

  • Air leaks around the house can be costly, allowing heat or air conditioning to escape, wasting energy. Check for the EEK -- drafts around windows, doors, electric outlets and other openings. The EEP can save a considerable amount of money with simple fixes such as caulking, weather stripping and expandable sealant.
  • EEK: incandescent light bulbs waste energy -- look for them in your home. EEP: changing 15 of them to compact flourescent bulbs will reduce electricity use and can save you $600 in energy costs over the life of the bulbs.
  • One dripping faucet can waste 3000 gallons of drinking water a year -- EEK! Check for leaky faucets. EEP: stop pouring money down the drain -- have the leak fixed.
  • Singing in the shower might be fun, but it's an EEK! Take shorter showers to save water and energy and earn an EEP.
  • Lights left on in empty rooms is an EEK because it is an energy waste. Turning lights off when you leave a room saves energy and is an EEP.

Expand your kid's education by taking them on field trips. Take them to a natural history museum where they can learn about extinct species. Zoos and wild animal parks help them understand ecosystems, the importance of clean water and the impact human activity has on the planet. Even a trip to your local pet shop can be a learning experience. Have your kids research where the animals come from in real life. Explain the importance of a proper, healthy environment for all creatures.

While in REGUA, we made a donation to plant 50 trees to help with the tremendous effort. If you and your family would like to make a project out of helping to save the Atlantic Rainforest with the money you save from fixing the EEKS in your home, you can learn more about REGUA here.

Do you have any stories about how you and your family are becoming ECO-ACTION DETECTIVES? Please share with us in the space provided below.