Five Ways To Celebrate Earth Day With Kids
April 22nd is Earth Day, a day designated to shed light on environmental issues of all kinds. The news and Going Green pop culture are far more focused on reducing, reusing and recycling in various forms far more than in 1970 when Earth Day was first observed. These small changes in the way we live are definitely shaping the way our kids think about the earth. For example, my kids wouldn’t dream of putting a soup can in the trash but when I was growing up the only ‘recycling’ we did was to get our 10 cent deposit back by returning soda bottles and cans to the market.
I’ve come up with Five ways to mark this Earth Day with your kids by celebrating the ideas of reusing, recycling, reducing and caring for the earth in tangible ways they can understand and relate to.
1. Help Clean Up A Park
Each spring we participate in a park clean up day at a local park or our elementary school. This weekend our senator is hosting a ‘Park Clean Up’ in our city in honor of Earth Day. I’ll admit, your four-year-old isn’t going to create a perfectly manicured flower bed. However, doing even a small amount of work (helping to rake leaves or pick up trash) and seeing many people pitching in to keep the park clean leaves a lasting impression on small minds. I can’t seem to locate a national organization or clearinghouse of local Adopt A Park days, so you may want to start here and check with your city’s website or local elementary school.
2. Buy Locally Grown Produce
Along with eating organic foods, there’s been an increasing movement to eat local whenever possible. This is a valuable lesson to share with kids and with crazy produce processing debacles, probably an even better idea. Even better, plant a garden with your kids and grow your own vegetables. I’m being realistic here though and visiting a local farm is probably as good as it’s going to get for The Summers. Here’s a great website to help you locate a pick-your-own farm near you.
3. Get Rid Of Plastic Bottles
We gave up sippy cups (Thank God!) many years ago, but my kids still love having “their own” bottle of water to carry around. Recycling every plastic water bottle in the US would make landfills 2 billion tons lighter. Imagine the effect if we all stopped using water bottles all together? I bought my kids each a couple of Sigg water bottles a few months ago and the combination of a fun bottle and filtered cold water that comes out of the freezer door in our new house has reduced our trash output and increased their water consumption. It’s a classic ‘Win-Win’.
4. Be Creative With Your Trash
Make art out of trash with your kids to highlight the power of reusing. We’ve attended sessions at a local recycled art place called Arts and Scraps and come home with beautiful wind chimes, bird feeders and generally cool pieces of art all made mainly from industrial waste. Arts and Scraps offers lots of ‘kits’ so you can do some projects at home.
5. Organize a Toy Swap
I can not count the number of toys which have made it into my house only to find their way to the Salvation Army a few months later because they were not All That. It’s a waste of money and frankly a waste of resources to continually buy things my kids aren’t going to love. This is where a toy swap comes in. There’s something intrinsically appealing about someone else’s toys. To a four-year-old, other people’s toys are just plain better. Here’s some advice for doing your own toy swap. You could also try Green Pinata Toys, a toy rental company which is like, as far as I can see is like Rent the Runaway for toys. You choose a plan, 4 toys a month for a set monthly subscription price. Let them play with the new toys for a month and then send them back for new ones. Brilliant!