This Friday, April 22, is Earth Day - a day all about raising awareness and inspiring action to care for the environment. Now that's right up our alley! So, here are some ways you and your family might want to celebrate this special day - or any day - to give our planet some love.
01. Plant Something
Plant anything - trees, bushes, veggies, flowers - it's all good. You can't go wrong. Invite your kids to pick the plant and dive in the dirt alongside you. Curious about how to start gardening? Check out our family-friendly gardening tips here. And remember, planting something also, ahem, plants ideas in our little ones' minds about how we are caretakers of the world. Win-win.
02. Audit Your Impact
How does your family impact the environment? Create a list with your kids about ways you have both a positive and a negative impact on the world. Some impacts are obvious, like driving a car, what you do with trash or being mindful of lights. Others are sneaky, like flushing the toilet, heating up your showers, using air conditioning, leaving electronics running overnight, using a dryer. And here's the challenge - see if you can come up with ways to reduce what harms and increase what helps. Kids usually have fun holding you to the goals you set. Go, kids, go!
03. Go on a Trash Hike
There are lots of benefits to going on a trash hike, here are two. One, of course, is literally cleaning up the land. Second, is the theory that when an area is clean, people are more likely to keep it clean. And when an area is filled with trash, people are less likely to care how it looks. Since it's already dirty, they might add to the trash themselves. Sad concept, but that's how a trash hike can have a really great ripple effect. It's not just a one-time thing. Luckily, lots of kids already want to pick up trash whenever they find it. So arm yourself with gloves and a bag and have at it.
04. Avoid the Car
Cars, oh, cars. We rely on them for a lot and they have much to offer, but obviously they also create pollution. Whereas walking, biking, scooting, boarding - however you like to get around best when you're not using a motor - has less of an impact on the environment. So challenge yourself to go a day without driving, or carpooling to at least reduce one car on the road or turning your car off when you're idling to reduce emissions. When you opt out of using a vehicle, it may take longer to get there, but especially with other active ways of getting around, you and your kids may feel just as good as the environment.
05. Brainstorm Environmental Issues
Research and talk with your kids about environmental issues, big and small. Brainstorm ideas they have for solving them. Even try putting their own ideas into action. There are plenty of examples out there of kids who are trying their hand at figuring out how to help, such as safely removing plastic from our oceans, protecting wildlife from human interaction, purifying air and creating cleaner technologies. Learn about these efforts alongside your children to find out more about what other kids (and adults!) are doing for inspiration.
06. Read Nature-Loving Books
If you've ever read The Lorax, you know what I'm talking about. Books with an environmental message can really hit home and leave you thinking about how you live, long after you put the book down. Your library probably has a section entirely devoted to Earth Day or caring for our planet. Trying to find some gems? Check out this list broken down by ages. Good for reading, good for growing minds.
07. Go Lights Out
Can you imagine a day without electricity? Seems wild, right? See if your family can go a full day without using anything electric or at least start by not using a particular kind - like lightbulbs or screens. What is it like to wake up and go to sleep with the sun? How does your family engage differently without certain electronics or appliances as part of your lives? (Note: this is not a knock on electronics, not at all, just more a challenge to be thoughtful about when we use the earth's energy in our day.) To pick which one you go without first, figure out what uses the most energy in your home - helpful information for you and your kids to know no matter what.
08. Eat Locally Grown Food
How does food get to your table? Has it traveled halfway around the world? Is it covered in plastic and other packaging? The local food movement has gained traction for a lot of reasons, but the environment is a big part of that. It takes a lot of gas and water and other resources to bring food to parts of the world where it wouldn't normally grow during that season, or at all. Go a little Animal, Vegetable, Miracle here and see if you can go a day - or a week - eating food that is only grown within 100 miles of your home. Ask your kids to learn alongside you about which foods grow during the current season, in the part of the world where you live. Find recipes and create meals together as a family to make the most of the bounty found nearby.
09. Reduce Your Waste
Speaking of packaging, when we reduce waste, we have a huge environmental impact. Can you believe there are people who can go a whole year without even filling an entire garbage bag with trash? (The exception, but still. Whoa!) There are lots of ways to reduce waste - composting, recycling, buying local foods, declining receipts, using cloth bags and napkins, being thoughtful about the purchases we make and what garbage we create. So many ideas! Your kids can really help you get creative here. It can be like a game to figure out how to live without creating waste. Enjoy the challenge.
10. Take a Friend on a Hike
Let's make Earth Day social! You can do any of these things listed with friends, and here, invite friends to join you in enjoying our beautiful planet. Most times we've been in nature, we leave with a renewed appreciation for it - either because it's so beautiful or because we see it being mistreated. So, go on a hike, play outdoors, do something active in nature, whatever it may be and relish in sharing these moments together. Your body, your world - and hopefully your friends! - will thank you for it.
Have other ways you're celebrating Earth Day or caring for your planet as a family? We'd love to hear about it.