PHOTO: UNSPLASH/ELENA MOZHVILO
Earth Day began in 1970 and for the past 52 years, April 22nd has been the day dedicated to bringing awareness to environmental issues and how to better protect our planet. In addition to teaching little ones about the 3Rs (recycling, reducing, and reusing), Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity for them to better understand how they can impact the future of the planet and how looking after the planet is an important responsibility, all through practical, hands-on activities that they can do themselves.
Try some of these fun activities to get your kids started this Earth Day:
1. Connect with nature
One of the best and easiest ways of celebrating Earth Day is actually just going outdoors and exploring nature. Remember the golden rule of nature exploring - ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’ - and let your kids start to develop a love for nature and Mother Earth as they take in the natural surroundings. Observing birds, insects and other creatures in their natural habitats is a great way for the family to bond together too.
2. Have a yard sale or donate unwanted items
You know the saying - ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?’ Every family has toys, clothes, books and lots of odds and ends that their kids have outgrown or no longer use. Why not organise a sale to help you declutter the house? You can keep them out of landfill and might even be able to help someone out with low prices for your good quality things. Or if it’s easier, consider donating your items to a charity or organisation that will be able to use them.
3. Grow a plant
Growing seedlings or beans that germinate quickly in a jar is a common (and fun) Earth Day science experiment and it is something everyone can do, irrespective of how little space they might have at home. Little ones love being able to watch their little seeds sprout and grow into a flower or vegetable. If you have the space, then do try to plant it in a garden or a larger pot at least once it’s ready. Tip: Plastic bottles are the bane of trash and pollution. Instead of using a glass jar, you can use a plastic bottle for the planting and help reduce waste at the same time too. Simply fold paper towels and place them all the way at the bottom of the jar or bottle (cut it in half across the middle if that helps). Slowly add water to dampen the paper towels. Add seeds or beans and let the magic begin!
4. Learn how to compost
Good environmental habits like composting are not only good for marking Earth Day, but it’s a small habit that everyone and the planet can benefit from, using only kitchen (plant) waste from fruits and vegetables. Place a compost bin outdoors on top of soil under the sun and top with the peels and kitchen waste. Top the waste with a layer of soil, including leaves and weeds. Cover with the lid and let the composting begin. Keep adding kitchen waste to the compost bin, and turn the compost over with a shovel regularly as it decomposes. The compost is then ready to be used for the garden, making it healthier naturally.
5. Make recycling fun
Recycling is a simple way for kids to make an impact and getting them in this habit as young as possible helps ensure that it’s a habit they will use for the rest of their lives. Make recycling fun by turning it into a game of identifying what items are recyclable. Pick a neighbourhood street or a park that you want to help clean up, and then get the kids to think about all the everyday items they find - and which recycle bin they should go to. If recycling isn’t possible, is it possible to reuse the item? Throwing away something (that isn’t obviously trash) should be the last resort. At the same time, you can make kids aware of e-waste too and get them to help recycle that properly too. Did you know that e-waste accounts for more than 70% of toxic waste in landfills, because only about 12% of e-waste is recycled?
6. Have a car-free day
This Earth Day, reduce your carbon footprint and leave the car at home. Instead, use any other form of transportation to get you through your day - including walking, public transport or bicycles.