by Katie Trudeau
Eco-friendly. Earth conscious. Going Green. These are all phrases that are more-or-less ubiquitous these days. “Doing your part” to save the earth is commonplace, and we see even big companies making earth-friendly decisions like banning straws or plastic bags. No doubt, these are all necessary and very good things, but society wasn’t always so green. Earth Day began in 1970 as way to spread awareness about the importance of protecting the earth and all she has to offer.
The original Earth Day paved the way for the future of environmental protection. Inspired by a 1969 oil spill, a Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day in 1970, and the rallies from that original Earth Day eventually led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This is how we came to have acts like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Acts.
April 22, 1970 -- the original Earth Day -- shows just how much change can happen when you take a stand for what is right. Here’s the best part: bettering the world isn’t just for Earth Day in 1970. There are dozens of ways that you can celebrate Earth Day this year and do your part to make the world a better place.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.
Plant a tree
What’s not to love about a tree? They breathe in CO2 while putting plenty of oxygen back into the air. Trees also prevent erosion, give us delicious fruit, provide homes for wildlife like birds, and give us plenty of shade from the sun. Plus, they’re just pretty! Head to a nursery and plant a tree in your yard.
Bonus: Choose a fruit tree and teach your children about the life cycle of plants and how fruit grows.
Take a walk in nature
Whether you’re heading around the block or spending the day hiking, this is a good day to encourage your children to enjoy -- and bask in -- nature.
Combine art and science into one easy lesson. Choose an ecosystem that you don’t regularly explore (such as a rainforest) and watch a few YouTube clips about it. Then, have your child paint or color their favorite part of that ecosystem.
Earth Day is about all ecosystems, and this is a creative way to let your child explore other parts of the beautiful earth.
You can also:
- Paint flowers with finger paint
- Make leaf rubbings: To do this, place a leaf under a sheet of paper and then take a crayon (holding it horizontally) to color over the leaf, and you’ll see the image of the leaf appear.
- Create a hanging garden using one section of an egg container (or a small pot) and macrame string. Let your child paint or decorate the pot first.
Be an informed consumer
When you buy groceries, choose products that were created ethically and sustainably. This includes:
- Wood products
- Palm oil
- Rubber products
While your kids might not understand this at first, they will see you making smart decisions as they shop with you.
Reduce your plastic consumption as a family
Plastic is everywhere, and apart from being unhealthy, plastic is not good for the environment. You can cut back on plastic consumption by:
- Choosing to use only reusable grocery bags
- Using reusable sandwich bags
- Switch to glass containers instead of plastic
- If you do use plastic, choose products made out of recycle plastic
- Select organic fabrics when possible
- Use a refillable coffee mug
- Skip disposable water bottles and use a glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve
- Choose glass baby bottles -- yes, even bottles! The silicone sleeves really do help prevent breaks.
- Select sustainably-sourced wood toys over plastic toys
Beautify your playground
There are many ways you can do this.
- Pick up trash along the road
- Plant flowers
- Install pet waste stand near the garbages (or petition your town to do it)
- Remove any peeling paint (or report repair requests to your town)
Remember the classic 3 R’s
There’s a good reason why the 3 R’s are always repeated during Earth Day. They are at the heart of the “go green” movement. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Reduce simply means that you’re using less. The above suggestion to reduce your plastic consumption is a good example of how you can enact this “R”.
Reuse not only saves the environment, but it can spare your wallet too.
Recycle is perhaps the most well-known eco-friendly practice, and it’s always one of the easiest.
This can be as big or small as you want. From Pinterest-worthy hanging herb gardens for your kitchen to sunflower seeds in a milk carton, there is no shortage of ideas to get your child’s green thumb glowing.
Tip: If you start seeds inside, use a popsicle stick to write the name of the plant, when you planted it, and when you need to transfer it outside.
What about you?
How will you celebrate Earth Day?
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com
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