Sunday, July 14, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Earth Day at Home

On Apr. 22, the hope is that people from around the globe will be making changes to their daily routines to lessen environmental impact as a way to celebrate Earth Day.
Earth Day is a great opportunity to talk to the kids about why it is important to look after the Earth, and to brainstorm what we can do to take care of the world around us. With the snow finally having melted, it is the perfect time to get outside and do a yard clean up. Have everyone wear gloves to protect their hands, and pick up all the garbage left behind due to the winter. We have been out cleaning up our neighbourhood. It’s amazing how much garbage can accumulate over the winter.
This year the theme for Earth Day is Planet vs. Plastic. This is clearly an important thought for all of us to consider. How can we lessen our footprint on this earth? One simple way to is to teach about the “3 Rs”: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Simple ways to implement reuse is by using a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags, reusable vegetable bags etc. If you don’t already talk a lot about helping our planet and environment take this opportunity to begin teaching your children about it.
Recycle: Talk with your kids about the difference between recyclable materials (paper, plastic, glass) and garbage. What do we recycle, how do we have to clean the recycled material and where do we put it when it’s ready to be recycled? Children as young as two can help with this job. For a math activity, make a chart of the number of items that you collect that are garbage and how many are recycling. Make recycling part of your daily routine, when the kids are using paper for art projects and have little scraps remind them to put it in the recycling bin, or when they empty out a box of something from the cupboard have them get into the routine of putting it in the recycling bin. We go through a lot of drawing paper around here, and we’ve gotten into the habit of designating paper to be reused when the second side is blank.
Here are some fun facts about recycling to share with the kids:

  • Recycling a single aluminium can will save enough electricity to power a TV for three hours.
  • It only takes 25 recycled plastic bottles to make a brand new fleece jacket.
  • Recycling a single glass bottle will save enough energy to power a light bulb for four hours.
  • When a newspaper is recycled, it takes only seven days for it to become a brand new newspaper.

Reuse: For a fun activity, find ways to repurpose materials you have around the house into pieces of art, or even functional items. Egg cartons can be painted to make different animals, and even used to plant seeds. Toilet paper rolls, Kleenex or cereal boxes, scraps of paper, and even old jars or plastic containers can all be used to create. For older children, give them a “mystery box” filled with various recycled materials, glue and tape, string, and some paint or markers, and challenge them to create something new. It is amazing what their imagination can invent.
I recently saw a really cute puzzle idea. Take an empty cracker or cereal box and separate the front side of the box with the picture of the product. Take that piece and cut it into a puzzle for your children to then remake. You can make one for each of them and vary the level of difficulty by making a few pieces to many pieces. Perfect way to repurpose materials in your home.
An old milk carton can become a beautiful bird feeder by sealing the top and cutting a hole about 4 inches from the bottom. Decorate it, tie a string to hang it from the tree, and you will have a beautiful piece of art in your yard that the birds will love to visit. Yogurt and apple sauce containers can also quickly become little planters, get your seeds started by planting them indoors, in these reusable containers.
My daughter has recently started collecting fabric from stained or old clothing. She uses the fabric to create clothing for her teddy bears or for art projects.
Reduce: Did you know that you waste up to five gallons of water each time you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? Think about small changes that you can make to your kids’ daily routine, such as packing lunches in reusable containers and water bottles. Small energy saving changes can be made around the home too, like turning off lights when you aren’t in the room, unplugging electronics when not in use, and washing your laundry on the cold cycle (these changes will also help you save on your hydro bill!).
Shop second hand. We have some great resources in the Pontiac that sell second hand products. It has become much more common to buy off of yard sale sites, get hand me downs, or shop thrift. This is such a great move towards reducing. Get your kids on board with this from a young age and you can help keep products out of the landfill.
Do a plastic audit around your house. Make a tally sheet of the number of plastic bottles, containers, and other items that simply get thrown out after one use. Work together to come up with sustainable ideas on how to cut down on plastic items. This is a perfect project for our school aged children! Put them to researching.
Do your kids love to play in forts as much as mine do? Have fun with energy savings by having an electricity-free campout in your living room. Play board games, read books, and tell stories by candlelight.
Movie night: Next time you and your kids settle in to watch a movie, consider watching one that teaches about environmental impact. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a great choice.
Have fun this Earth Day exploring the things we can do every day to love our planet and make it a better place! Watch for information on an Earth Day Parents’ Voice contest on Facebook for prizes up for grabs.
Until next week, play lots, stay safe, wash your hands and enjoy the spring weather.

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