Earth Day Guide
By Sara Kendall
April is a great time for you and your family to connect with nature. This month also brings us Earth Day on April 22. Earth Day is recognized around the world as a day for communities to take action to help protect our planet. Since our children are the future defenders of Mother Earth, what better time to start them on the path to being earth-friendly.
Protecting our planet means changing wasteful habits and learning new ones that start with reduce, reuse and recycle. Teaching your children a few simple, daily habits will set them on the road to sustainable living and have an impact on keeping the world cleaner and greener today. In this way, you make every day Earth Day.
Turn off lights and electronic devices when not in use. Explain to your kids how electronics use energy and the value of efficiency. Even better, you may even save some money!
Conserve water by turning it off while brushing your teeth. Limit the time in the shower and the amount of water in a bath. Speak with your children about this vital natural resource, since there is a limited supply.
Packaging is an often-overlooked opportunity to practice sustainability. Look for products that are not overly packaged. Buy everyone in the family a reusable water bottle. Buy snacks, grains and flours in bulk and store in reusable containers.
Reduce garbage by trying to repair a broken item instead of tossing it. Use spare parts from two items to make one that works.
Here’s a fun activity all kids love to do: instead of throwing out old bread, feed the ducks at a local park. It’s fun and adds a nice activity to a casual walk.
Build or purchase a compost bin. Collect compostable food scraps, coffee grinds and egg shells. Show your children how to get rid of these compostable materials by placing them in the compost bin and giving it a good stir. In a few months, your children can see how what would otherwise be considered garbage becomes dark rich soil. Have them plant flowers using it or spread throughout your garden beds.
Consider other things you could keep from throwing into the garbage can. Get your children involved by collecting appropriate beverage and food containers, straws, cereal boxes, used plastic and aluminum foil scraps. Encourage them to be creative by building a city or a fairy house or anything a child’s imagination can come up with. The creative possibilities are endless.
When your kid no longer needs a toy or article of clothing that still has some life in it, give it to someone who needs it. Bring your kids along so they can be a part of the donation process. It will certainly boost his or her spirits by giving to someone in need.
A plastic bottle can sit for hundreds of years in a big pile at the dump before it decomposes. Discuss with your children which plastic, metal and paper items can be recycled. Give your kids the duty of sorting them in appropriate bins and have them in charge of taking out the recycling bin for pick up. If there is no recycling pick-up in your area, research local drop-off locations. Bring your kids along to see where the garbage goes.
Consider using rainwater barrels to catch the runoff from your downspouts or place empty containers outside to catch rainwater. Let your child monitor the water levels and recycle the water back into the earth when outdoor plants need a drink of water. Kids love playing with water and they will not mind having this job. Indoor plants can benefit as well from this collected natural resource.
Use cloth lunch bags and napkins, and plastic sandwich containers instead of disposable paper or plastic ones.
Our children are the future. Instilling earth-friendly habits in their routine early in life will make a difference, a little for ours but a lot for theirs. Our natural resources will last longer and the world will be healthier place for future generations. n
Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters.