This Monday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, a day when communities across the globe will voice their concerns for the planet, and take action to protect it. Every year more than one billion people take part in Earth Day, which just happens to be a wonderful opportunity to talk with our children about why it is important to take care of our planet. Here are twelve ways to have fun with your kids while being environmentally aware on Earth Day and every day:
1. Enjoy the rain. We’ve had a lot of pouring rain this spring, especially in the middle of the country. Next time it pours, go out and wash your hair in the rain with your kids. Get them in their bathing suits and head outside with the shampoo. Kids LOVE this and you will save water while getting adorable photos of your kids in the rain.
2. Reduce waste. Kids usually love a long bath, often turning the tub into a small swimming pool. Make taking quick baths or showers fun while using less water by setting a timer. This is a terrific way to make green living fun. Just remember to make the timing reasonable enough for them to really get clean!
3. Watch what you drink. Get your kids involved in recycling plastics. Talk to them about using canteens instead of plastic bottles or cups. Let them sort and take out the recycling bins. Who knows, maybe they can take this on as a regular chore!
4. Go to school. A lot of schools in our area have paper recycling bins, which are a revenue source for the school. When you are driving by your school, take the recyclable paper and let your kids help put the paper in the recycling bins. Usually there is an opening on the side of the bin which is the perfect height for kids.
5. Bring out your inner artist. Before you recycle that paper, make sure your kids are using both sides when they color or do art projects. You can have them make piles of their art work and then turn over the pile so they can start fresh on the other side. You can also let them choose which pieces of their artwork can be put aside to be used as wrapping paper for holidays and birthday presents.
6. Lighten up. During the daytime, open the blinds and have a “lights out” policy around your home. Green living does not making mean major sacrifices, just thinking of what you can do to help the earth. Ask your kids what other ideas they might have that you can implement at home.
7. Make it cleaner. Have any dry cleaning? Many cleaners will reuse the wire hangers, especially if you request them. Let your kids collect the hangers and help you return them to the dry cleaners. Green cleaners are also sprouting up in cities and towns throughout the country, which do not use the same harsh chemicals as traditional cleaners. Consider looking for a green cleaner in your area.
8. Take a look around. Have a trash scavenger hunt around the neighborhood or a nearby park. This is a fun way to clean up litter around your community. Last year my kid and I put on our gardening gloves, each kid grabbed a trash bag and we had a scavenger hunt. (Just have rules in place about what they are allowed to pick up so they do not try to get their hands on anything sharp or dangerous.) It was a little nasty for sure but they laughed the entire time!
9. Dig in. Plant a tree. Plant a shrub. Plant a flower. Start a vegetable garden. Kids love digging and planting, especially when they start to see the garden grow. If you live in an urban environment and cannot plant yourself, consider a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation, who will plant trees in much needed areas on your behalf. Here are resources for ideas of where and how to begin gardening with kids:
10. Get creative. Make a craft using recycled materials. You can go old school by making sock puppets, milk carton bird feeders and egg carton caterpillars or you can find great ideas and tutorials online at YouTube. Here are a few suggestions:
11. Scrap it. Start to compost. Kids love getting involved with composting. It is fun, easy and terrific for the earth. Here are some resources for getting started with composting:
12. Get real. Visit the zoo or an aquarium and teach your kids about how the way we treat our planet affects not just people and land but animals too. Most zoos and aquariums have programs to learn about the earth’s impact on animals. If you cannot get to the zoo or aquarium you can find this type of information online too.
What are the Earth Day activities you do with your children? How does your family celebrate green living every day of the year?