How can you expect me to save the earth when teaching my kids to pick up after themselves is enough of a challenge day? Yep, Earth Day is another one of the days that inadvertently heaps guilt on all moms who maybe feel that they are not doing enough to make a difference. Yet teaching kids how to protect the planet does not have to be complicated. Perhaps you are already doing more than you realize. Look at your life and determine what level you are able to make a difference. When my kids were little, I needed easy ideas. Now that they are getting older, we can start moving toward making a bigger difference. Just remember that anything is truly better than nothing. If you try just ONE of these dozen ideas, please give yourself a pat on the back! You truly can make a difference by changing your environment.
Easy Idea: Play outside today. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, just get outside and move! By enjoying the outdoors, you are automatically using less electricity.
An idea that takes more effort: Challenge your kids to pick up five pieces of trash near your own home. Sadly you probably will not have to look very far. I know for us if just me and my four kids pick up that much trash, that 25 pieces would fill up a small trash bag. An easy way to make a big impact!
True Commitment to Make a Change: Become involved in making a difference in your own neighborhood. Contact your city and ask if any parks need to be updated. Search out community revitalization projects in your area. While this does involve a time commitment, the dividends are so worthwhile.
What you eat
Easy: Go meatless one meal a week. According to Earthday.org, the increased amount of meaty meals over the last half century is taking its toll. For instance, simply by skipping steak once a week with your family, it would be the same as not driving your car for three months.
Harder: Skip the packaging. For one meal a week when you would normally eat out or buy prepackaged foods, cook instead. Not only will this save on waste, but it could also save on your waist as well.
Hardest: Grow a garden. By producing your own food, you can avoid using pesticides. You could even take that up a notch and compost your own fertilizer. Mother Earth News has a few easy suggestions on getting started on this project. Besides tasting better, fresh food will always be healthier. Not enough space or time for gardening? Visit a local farmer’s market to purchase your produce.
Easy: Be an example. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Turn off the water when you are brushing teeth. Set the thermostat slightly higher or lower than you would prefer to save energy. Encourage your children to do the same.
Harder: Have a Earth Day Family Night. Teach your kids a poem or song to about Earth Day. A favorite that I found is the song set to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” entitled Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Spoonful.com has all sorts of great “Earth Day” craft ideas as well as fun outdoor games that you can enjoy with your family. As you probably guessed, Pinterest is also a great source of ideas.
Hardest: Attend a community “Earth Day” event. While many activities have already taken place (some as early as last week-end), check out this list of family events found on my Odyssey Through Nebraska that are still happening this week-end!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Easy: Choose to donate or give away as much as possible rather than throwing it away. Even if your clothes are worn, many local shelters can still recycle your clothing for cash.
Harder: Decide to buy items from secondhand stores. This could even be a fun place to find items for crafts or to outfit a room in your home. Visit the library for books rather than buying your own copy. Many libraries even have movies and games to check out – much less expensive than renting.
Hardest: Recycle! This option has been perhaps one of the most emphasized parts of saving the earth, and its benefits should still be emphasized. According to the EPA, for each pound of aluminum recovered, almost 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity can be produced. This generates enough to meet the electric needs of Pittsburgh for SIX years!
Once you get started, this is really not hard at all. Sometimes making a change that is better for the environment can even benefit you financially. Many places pay for aluminum. Some recycling centers give you fun gift certificates or bonuses if you pay to participate in their recycling programs. Get your kids involved in collecting aluminum to recycle and then let the proceeds be their “pocket money.” My boys love it when we make a trip to the recycling center; the last time they left with $38 in their pocket!
Many of the ideas found in this post were adapted from an article that I wrote a few years ago on behalf of my dear friend (and former college roomie!), Suzanne at Little Green Cloth. If you are looking for additional ideas on protecting the environment, her blog is a GREAT one to check out. (And I am not just saying that because I wrote some of the articles 😉 ) How about you? If you are celebrating Earth Day, we would love to learn how your celebration is taking place. Please comment below or on our Good Life Moms Facebook page.