Earth Day is our annual reminder to stay aware of the issues affecting our natural world and to do our part to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable planet. To help get your kids to appreciate the environment—and have some fun in the process—plan a few simple and fun activities for April 22. Sara Snow, green expert and host of Discovery Health’s Get Fresh with Sara Snow, offers these green ideas.
Visit a local farm for a garden tour.
Taking a tour of a local farm is a great opportunity to show your kids where their food comes from. Those within community-supported agriculture (CSA) networks, which enable consumers to purchase seasonal goods from farmers directly, will be happy to fill you in on harvesting and production—and they may even let you swap some weeding for a half-share. Inspired by the tour? Pick up some seeds and make some garden space for the family to plant your own edibles.
Decorate your own waste station.
If you currently separate or are able to separate your recyclables, make a creative project out of decorating individualized bins. Collect three buckets or plastic bins, get some chalkboard paint, and have your kids decorate them each for paper, plastic and aluminum. Willing to take it up a notch? Pick up three larger bins and have the kids decorate them separately for trash, recycling, and compost, making an outdoor collection zone.
Start your compost pile.
If you’re not composting, you should start. It’s a great way to make free fertilizer for your garden, flowerpots, lawn or the trees in a nearby park. Even better, you’ll cut your waste by as much as 50 percent! Start the process by designating a bucket in your kitchen for food scraps. Then set up an outdoor bin, and make a family project out of collecting yard waste to add in with the scraps. You’ll be a composting family in no time.
Spring-cleaning the green way means you safely clean your whole house using just vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil and soap. Make a project out of mixing the cleaning concoctions to spur your kids’ interest in getting the house spic-and-span.
Some cleaning-day recipes:
- Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle is your best all-purpose cleaner.
- Mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice for an all-natural furniture polish.
- Water and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a spray bottle works on windows and mirrors.
- Mix a small amount of baking soda with liquid castile soap to get your countertops, sinks and tubs shiny.
- For a fresh scent, try adding a few drops of rosemary, orange or lavender essential oils.
- To brighten whites in the wash, add a small amount of lemon juice to your machine’s rinse cycle.
Shorten your showers.
Long showers waste both water and energy. Get your kids excited about cutting down on water consumption by challenging them to a “shorter showers” competition. Place a couple of waterproof timers in the shower, and see who can get squeaky clean the fastest; whoever finishes first gets a “green” star (or some new stickers). Then turn the competition into an ongoing event by setting the timers to go off a minute shy of the usual shower time, and keeping a running list of who gets in and out fastest. Your kids will be motivated to wash up fast!
Apply 30 SPF and get outdoors for a hike or bike ride to the store. Appreciate the beauty of nature without that pesky glass window between you and the great natural world.