by Tyson Beazley
What's the largest, most widely celebrated international environmental event? Earth Day! This green movement celebration soared from 20 million people in 1970 to over one billion today.
We've gathered up Earth Day ideas and activities to help educate your friends and family. Inspire them to do something green and protect our earth year around!
Top 10 Earth Day Suggestions
1. Ramp up the Recycling
Recycling is a no-brainer. Wash and separate your aluminum/tin, glass, and recyclable plastics and put them curbside or take the treasure to the Recycling Center. You can bump it up a notch by creating a flyer. Distribute your handiwork to the neighbors on your street. Take a moment and talk with them about the importance of Earth Day. Encourage your neighbors to separate their recyclables into bags and to have them ready for pickup on a particular day.
2. Plant a Tree or Two
Whether you choose a sapling or a more mature tree, you can be certain that your gift to the earth will give back to you a hundred times over! Be careful in choosing both the type of tree that you want to plant and the area. For instance, don't plant a tree where it's likely to interfere with power lines or endanger the house.
3. Conserve Resources
Sit down with your family and look around your home for ways that you can help conserve energy:
- Electricity: Turn off the lights when you exit a room
- Water: Don't leave it running while brushing your teeth
- Gas: Plan trips to the store around other necessary errands
Another idea is to look around and inspect your home. Fix leaky faucets and toilets that waste water. Check your windows and doors for gaps that allow warm or cold air to escape. When replacing appliances, choose those with an Energy Star label.
4. Friendly Habitats
Do some research on how you can make your yard more welcoming to natural wildlife, "good bugs," and birds. Your lawn will thank you and most definitely the earth will, too! For ideas, check out our Audubon Day and tadpole to frog articles.
5. Earth-Friendly Habits
Encourage your family to form new, earth-friendly habits. For instance, how about:
• At dinner, light a candle for the earth and agree on some new family habits.
• If anyone gets something new, that person chooses an item to recycle, give to a charity, or toss.
• Everyone in the family takes on one regular recycling job (take out the recycling, send the printer ribbons to be recycled, find a place to donate used eyeglasses or cell phones to charity instead of tossing them, cull old household items for recycling.)
• Set a date to work together filling boxes with donations for others: toys, clothes, household items. Talk about why we recycle instead of throwing things away.
• Package up old books and donate them to your local public library.
6. Enjoy the Earth
Get your family out and about in nature on a regular basis. Take a walk together as a family. Go for a bike ride. Have a family kickball game or a water fight. You can also just take a blanket and snuggle up before bedtime, looking up at the stars together.
7. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
You could be polluting your home without even knowing it. Some of the chemicals in cleaning products harm the air inside our homes. If you knew that when you were cleaning you were actually putting your family's health at risk, wouldn't you want to make a change? Choose or make your own environmentally friendly cleaning products to keep your home clean and your family safe without the "knock you down at the door" smell of some of the commercial cleaning products.
8. Family Swap Meet
You might have things that you don't use that someone else in your family might need. Find out who has what and who needs it with one of these ideas:
- Newsletter: Each household lists what they have to swap. Include pictures. The newsletters can be sent or emaied to every household. If you see an item you want, offer something of yours in trade.
- Swap Meet: Once a month, you can gather and "set up shop" in the living room or back yard. Each family member can barter for something they may need or want.
- Include the children: Kids can swap their toys and learn about the bartering system.
9. Shop Wisely and Save Resources
Reuse and recycle: Can the container be easily recycled or reused? Will a larger container reduce the amount of packaging and perhaps cost less per serving? Is everything that can be recycled being recycled? As you walk through today's activities make a list. At dinner share problem areas and troubleshoot solutions.
Reduce: Save resources (and money) by asking if you really need the item, if it's well suited for the task, and if it will last. Not only can this save you money, it can save you space and work, too.
10. Evaluate Your Progress
Put your activities on your calendar to check in on the first of every month with your family and evaluate your family's progress. We all know that developing new habits can be a challenge. Kids need to see you model how to stay on a project like this, even a simple one. And, of course, every day is Earth Day!
Which of these activities will your family adopt? Tell us all about it!