By Heather Lee Leap
Spring is here and Earth Day is close at hand, but don’t wait until April 22 to celebrate. Now is the time to reflect on your family’s commitment to the environment. What can you do to educate and inspire your children? Have fun as a family and encourage your children to be stewards of the Earth by jumping into action with these ideas.
1. Create an Earth Day Recycled Village. Delve into the recycling bin for small boxes and cardboard cylinders. Using a stiff piece of cardboard as a base let your child design a fantasy village of recycled materials. Glue objects together to create towers, arches and skyscrapers. When the village is dry, bring out poster paint and brushes to fuel another burst of creativity. Snap a photo, and when your child has moved on to other things, pitch it all back into the recycle bin.
2. Expand your palate. Visit a local market with your children and seek out unfamiliar produce. Choose a new fruit or vegetable to try each week.
3. Use alternative transportation. Walk, bike or use public transportation to reach a destination to which you would normally drive.
4. Decorate re-usable canvas tote bags. Your kids can personalize their own bags using fabric markers and fabric paint. Use them all year long for shopping, library books and sleepovers, or pass them on as one-of-a-kind gifts.
5. Visit a zoo or aquarium. Discuss the way zoos have changed over time with an ever-increasing emphasis on scientific research and species conservation.
6. Plan, prepare and plant your garden. Set aside a portion of the garden for your children. Create a special patch they can tend and let them choose what to plant.
7. Make Earth Cookies. Bake round sugar cookies and decorate them with blue and green icing to represent Earth’s continents and oceans. Look at a globe or map for inspiration before you begin.
8. Volunteer for a neighborhood clean-up project.
9. Use only eco-friendly and reusable products all day. Help your children notice things they can reuse. Don’t forget those cloth napkins.
10. Turn out the lights and have dinner by candlelight.
11. Clear the clutter. Search your home for items you no longer use and have your children do the same. Finding a new home for these things keeps them out of the landfill. It saves the manufacturing, transportation and packaging costs required when buying new. Get unused items back into circulation by donating them to charity or holding a yard sale. Sell items on a site such as Craigslist or leave them by the curb with a “free” sign for a few days.
12. Visit a park or nature preserve and go for a hike.
13. Make a biodegradable bird feeder by tying a long loop of yarn around a pine cone. Coat the pine cone with lard, and then roll it in seeds, nuts or oats. Hang this from a tree and watch as the birds swoop by for a taste.
14. Plant a tree. Arbor Day is officially the last Friday of April, the same week as Earth Day. Celebrate both days by joining a group tree-planting or by planting a tree on your own property.
As the saying goes; “Every day is Earth Day.” So begin your family’s stewardship adventure today.
Heather Lee Leap is a freelance writer and editor, yoga teacher and mother of three girls. She strives to use things up and wear things out before replacing them. Find her at www.wellnessandwords.com