Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, in San Francisco, California. Now, people
in over one hundred different countries join together in what has become the
largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide. For many people,
though, it has ceased to have much meaning and sometimes appears to be just
one more corporate-sponsored greenwash.
However, Earth Day can be a great opportunity to reinforce
the concept of green living for young children and have some fun at the same
time. And everybody loves a holiday! Here are ten ways to make Earth Day a
new tradition with your young family and friends.
1. Plant a tree in your back yard: Besides
being a fun activity for your family, trees help to lower greenhouse gas
emissions, and they provide a habitat for a variety of birds. Go to your
local nursery and pick out the perfect tree for your yard.
2. Do some natural crafts. Pine cone
birdfeeders are easy even for young children. (cover cones with shortening
or peanut butter mixed with an equal amount of oatmeal or corn meal, roll in
birdseed, hang on a tree branch.) Or make collages with paper from the
recycling bin or fabric scraps. Or plant some herb or grass seeds in potting
soil in a half eggshell, and sit in egg cups or a base made from rolled and
decorated card stock. Or make a birdhouse out of a milk carton.
3. If you live in the part of the world
where April is Spring, begin to
vegetable garden. If you don’t have a yard, window boxes and large pots
work just as well. Let the children choose new types of fruits or vegetables
to try out each year, and give them responsibilities in the garden.
4. Mix up some
cleansers and hold a family Spring cleaning bee. Follow it up with a
festive lunch or outdoor picnic if it’s warm enough.
5. Take a
Nature hike. Whether
you walk for an hour in your local park or further afield on an organized
trail, or simply have a picnic amongst Nature’s beauty, any time not spent
inside is time well-spent. Don’t forget your camera to capture the scenery
and to take a group shot of your “First Annual Earth Day Hike.” (Try to
leave all other electronic devices at home.)
6. Clean up litter at a local park. Parks
provide places for everyone in the community to enjoy Nature. Bring trash
bags and wear gloves.
7. Have an Earth Day party. Cook a special
meal using healthy, organic, vegan foods. Decorate with leaves or potted
plants, and let each guest take a plant home to add to their garden. For the
kids, put out some green toys or environmentally-themed books like The
Lorax. Use cloth napkins and tablecloths, canning jars filled with
early wildflowers, and china plates and real cutlery.
8. Go camping. Get in touch with Nature on
a camping trip. An overnight trip into the woods provides perspective on the
importance of protecting Mother Nature, and gets you away from the noises
and nuisances of the city. (And leave the electronic devices at home, or at
least turn them off.) Not a fan of roughing it or think your children are
too young? Plan an eco-vacation instead.
9. Spend the day like your ancestors. Go
without electricity, unplugging everything to eliminate phantom power use
and the urge to turn anything on. Use candles when it gets dark; eat raw,
locally grown foods; if you cook, use an open fire, woodstove, or grill.
Play cards or board games, go for a bike ride, or simply chat among
10. Make every day Earth Day.
Celebrating Earth Day by Elaine Landau (Enslow
Our Earth: How kids are saving the planet by Janet
Wilson (Second Story Press, 2010)
Heroes of the Environment by Harriet Rohmer
(Chronicle Books, 2009)
I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle by Alison Inches, Viviana Garofoli
illustrator (Little Simon, 2008)
Earth Day by Molly Aloian (Crabtree Publishing,
The EARTH Book by Todd Parr (Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers, 2010)
It’s Earth Day! (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer
Mother Earth by Nancy Luenn, Neil Waldman
illustrator (Aladdin, 1995)
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About
Recycling (Little Green) by Alison Inches, Pete Whitehead illustrator
(Little Simon, 2009)
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 1971)
is Natural Life Magazine's editor, the author of 13 books, and the mother of two grown daughters.