This Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day, and there are a ton of simple things we can all do to both celebrate and protect our home for years to come. In honor of Earth Day, we want to highlight some easy ways to get your kids excited about taking care of the planet.
- Recycle: Perhaps the most common way to help the Earth is to recycle. Show your kiddos how easy it is to recycle your glass, paper, cardboard, aluminum, metal and plastic. For a comprehensive list of what you can recycle, check with your city’s waste department – most have a printable list you can hang on the fridge.
- Go Meatless: Try having one meatless meal per week and use it to educate your kids on how much energy gets put into producing animal products and the implications this has on the environment. Did you know that livestock alone accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions?
- Take a Bike Ride: Teach your kids about carbon pollution by riding your bikes instead of getting in the car. Every gallon of gasoline your vehicle burns creates about 8,887 grams of carbon dioxide, averaging 4.6 metric tons of CO2per year!
- Pick Up Trash: Go on a hike or spend the afternoon at your local park picking up trash. Get your kids engaged in their community and excited about doing their part in making their home a clean and enjoyable place to be.
- Use Only Reusable Dishes and Water Bottles: Teach your kids the importance of reducing waste by investing in kid-proof dishes and water bottles. Bonus: ditch the single-use straws for reusable ones. While often a big oversight, it is now estimated that Americans use 500 million straws per day.
- Turn Off the Water and the Lights: Show your little ones how they can save water and energy by turning off the faucet while they brush their teeth and turning off the lights when they’re not in the room. Try having an “energy efficient hour” where you play outside to reduce your energy usage.
- Take Them to a Farmers’ Market: Farmers’ markets are a free and fun way to spend the morning. Teach them how buying locally grown (and often organic) groceries reduces your carbon footprint. Even better: if there is one close enough, ride your bikes there. You can find more information on carbon footprints and how to calculate your own here.
- Start a Garden (or Plant a Tree): There is no better way to educate your kids about the environment than by starting your own garden or planting a tree. You can teach them about the carbon cycle, how to grow their own food and the importance for caring for something other than themselves.
- Create Art Projects: Spend the afternoon creating artwork made completely from things around your home that you were going to toss. Get creative by reusing your newspaper, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons and more to make a craft project, all while teaching them ways they can repurpose household items and keep them out of the landfill. A personal favorite: let the kids decorate their own canvas grocery bags to take shopping.
- Start Composting: This may not be for everyone but starting a home composting pile is a fun way for your kids to learn firsthand about the impact they have on the earth when they eat. It may even get them excited about eating fruits and veggies so they can see where their food scraps go.
Emily Rose graduated from the University of Arizona with an honor’s degree in Environmental Science. During her time on campus she was the Waste Reduction committee chair for Students for Sustainability, a branch of the University’s student government which works to incorporate sustainability into all areas of university and student life. She presented at The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference two years in row, sharing her work of incorporating sustainability into Greek life with fellow conference attendees.