As you are probably well aware, Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22nd. I’m quite certain you can find 10,000 Earth Day crafts on Pinterest, but what things can you as a family do every day to promote an increased awareness about the role we humans play in our larger environment?
I’m sure I could come up with a list of the things we do (or plan to do in the future): put our food scraps in the compost, recycle regularly, use cloth napkins, drive a hybrid and pick up litter when we see it.
Before I had a chance to put a list together, I got my monthly email from Doing Good Together™. Doing Good Together is a nonprofit based in Minneapolis which works to make volunteering and service, along with daily kindness, easy for every family. While Austin-based Little Helping Hands partners with other nonprofits to provide families with opportunities to sign up for regular volunteer opportunities, Doing Good Together’s Big Hearted Families Program provides a toolbox of service project ideas, resources and strategies for weaving kindness into family life.
Doing Good Together put together four things you can do to raise a green child. The organization’s suggestions are reprinted below, with their permission.
Enjoy nature together
Surprisingly, one of the surest ways to instill eco-consciousness in children is to foster a love of nature. You don’t have to travel to the Amazon rainforests to do it, either.
- Find a hiking path (woods or prairie), go for a canoe ride, have a picnic.
- See what’s living under a rotten log, sweep a net through the edge of a pond, count birds. Invite your kids to use all of their senses to notice and appreciate the earth and its creatures.
- Take along a magnifying glass, binoculars or camera.
- Keep a nature journal to record your family’s observations.
Involve your children in your everyday environmental practices.
- Let them help you sort cans for recycling or take the waste outside to compost.
- When you shop together, take reusable shopping bags. Talk about your buying choices and what impact they might have.
- As often as possible, buy used clothing and toys.
- Grow a garden together, even if it’s only on your windowsill.
- Consider making an “eco-plan” with your child, listing small changes your family can make to live in harmony with the earth, such as buying locally grown food and using energy-efficient lighting.
Be volunteers, donors and activists.
Although the world feels large, each member of your family can play a role in healing the planet. It can be as simple as picking up litter when you visit your local park or choosing to leave a dead tree standing so birds have a place to nest. To keep educated and contribute to a sustainable future, join an environmental organization, like World Wildlife Fund or Rainforest Alliance. (Be sure to visit the Kids’ Corner of the Rainforest Alliance website.) To find specific local volunteer opportunities for you and your children for Earth Day or any day, check out the Anywhere, USA page of our website.
Educate yourself and your children about environmental trends (global warming, endangered or threatened species, pollution). Skip the “gloom and doom” scenarios, but do provide age-appropriate explanations of important issues. To get started, find out about your own personal environmental impact at the Earth Day Footprint Calculator; watch nature specials together on TV; and visit environmental education websites for kids, such as EekoWorld. Also, check out classes at your local zoo, science museum and nature center.
For other ideas on how to commemorate Earth Day, check out more ideas from Doing Good Together.
How will you be spending your Earth Day? Do you find your kids understand the little things they can do to protect the Earth?