With Earth Day around the corner, this is a good time to plan a few fun, environmentally friendly activities for the family. Here are a few ideas to get things started – three great ways to show your kids how they can help keep the world green and clean.
Sort the recycling
When it comes to recycling, taking small steps now can make a big impact on the future. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes a few of the benefits of recycling:
- Reducing the amount of trash in landfills
- Conserving natural resources
- Lowering greenhouse gas emissions
So take the opportunity to show your little ones how easy it can really be to make a difference. Have them match the right plastic, glass, metal and paper containers with the right recycling bins. For an added element of fun, you could make a game of it. Time your kids and their friends to see who can correctly sort the most recyclables in a minute. Recycling is a tangible way to help kids understand how their actions affect the earth.
Garden with native plants
Gardening is another great way to connect with the environment (and it gives your kids an excuse to play in the dirt). Whether you have a small plot in the yard, or just a few terracotta pots, gardening with plants that are native to your area can be an educational and enjoyable activity.
The first step to starting your garden is gathering the supplies you’ll need. Visit your local nursery and select seeds or seedlings native to your area. Grab tools like a shovel, spade and gardening fork—you can even find kid-sized versions of these. Let your kids help pick a spot to plant the garden, then start digging. Put the seeds or seedlings in the ground, cover with dirt, water and wait for the magic to happen. Every few weeks, the kids can measure how much each plant has grown.
Why choose native plants? Well, they support indigenous wildlife and can attract more birds and butterflies to your property. Also, because native plants are naturally suited for the soil and climate in your area, they don’t require as much maintenance as other species. So, you get a beautiful garden with a little less work. Teach your little ones about the wildlife in your area and how gardening with native plants can make an impact.
Swap light bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Other energy-efficient options include LED and halogen light bulbs. Once you’ve decided on the type of lights you want, get the kids to help you swap out the old bulbs for new ones. It can help you save money on your electric bill and open a dialogue about earth-friendly practices at home. You should know, if you’re getting rid of CFLs, be sure they’re properly recycled. The EPA points out that those bulbs contain a small amount of mercury that could be released into the environment if not correctly disposed of.
Getting the kids to help you recycle, garden and conserve energy can help set them up with environmentally minded habits that they’ll keep well into the future.