Earth Day is April 22nd, get the kids involved and help care for the Earth!
1. Turn off the television and create a family activity.
Create a jump rope contest with the kids or use large chalk to draw a hopscotch board on the driveway. Whip out the ball and glove or take a family bike ride. If the weather is uncooperative, dust off a board game and enjoy the family time.
2. Take a trip to a farmers market and purchase local produce…by foot or bike!
Support your local farmers and decrease your carbon footprint by purchasing your produce and products from a farmers market. Take it one step further to help our Earth and walk or bike there, if possible. Shopping for produce with your kids will develop healthy eating habits. Have your children each pick out a fruit or vegetable to try! Learn more about purchasing organic vs. conventional produce from our blog “The Dirty Dozen” at http://tinyurl.com/3hwp5ck.
3. Explore a neighborhood park and teach your kids to take care of their community.
Take the kids on a family hike and bring along a garbage bag to help clean up along the way. Make sure to use a glove if picking up debris by hand or bring along a grabber stick. This is a perfect time to catch-up and talk with your kids.
4. Plant spring flowers!
Kids love to play in the dirt! Get down and dirty with them and plant some spring time flowers. We all know trees produce oxygen, well flowers do too! This is known as photosynthesis, the process by which carbon dioxide is taken in by plant cells, such as those in flowers, and converted, or “synthesized,” into oxygen. Let your kids get creative for the entire neighborhood to see!
5. Donate unwanted items to a local charity.
Take some time with your children to go through their room or playroom to choose some items they no longer use. Find a local charity that accepts toy donations. One good example is the Big Brother/Big Sister program. Also think of local day care centers or religious organizations that may need the toys for their facilities.
6. Create a craft with recycled items from your home…such as a bird feeder!
You can use just about anything to make a recycled bird feeder starting from the obvious, like milk cartons and plastic bottles or rolling an item such as a toilet paper roll in peanut butter and then bird feed. For typical container bird feeders, simply make holes for small wild birds then fill with bird seed. Hang your children’s work of art from a tree with a string or chain. You can get creative with what is lying around your home and come up with your own ideas on using recycled items for many different projects.
7. Conserve water for the day.
Train everyone in the family to turn off the water when brushing their teeth. An average person wastes two gallons of water with teeth brushing alone. Fill a reusable cup to rinse your mouth and use the rest to rinse the brush. Also, have your kids take showers instead of baths and limit the time. If you take a 4-minute shower with a low flow shower head you’ll save 3 to 5 times the water of an average bath.
8. Do not create waste for the day.
If you go to the supermarket or any other store, bring along reusable bags. It’s easy to forget that you can bring a bag to ANY store, not just where you purchase food. Also try to avoid single serving packaged foods. Significantly more material is thrown away than if you ate from a multi-serving bag or box. If you haven’t already, make a switch to a reusable water bottle. According to the Environmental Working Group, every 27 hours Americans consume enough bottled water to circle the entire equator with plastic bottles stacked end to end.
9. Do not consume any processed food for the day.
Make a point to use fresh, whole food with minimal ingredients. Whole grains, fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, and lean meats are not only healthy and wholesome, but energy is saved on the processing. It’s a bonus if your produce is locally grown and/or organic.
10. Prepare a meat-free meal with your kids!
Consuming meat and poultry leaves a much larger carbon footprint than meat-free alternatives. Make vegetable lasagna with your kids and incorporate the produce you purchased from your local farmers market. Using low-fat cheese and whole wheat pasta would be the healthier options. Your kids will love to layer this delicious dinner and enjoy devouring it when it’s done. Check out our recipe for Vegetable Lasagna at http://tinyurl.com/4el9egq.
Teach your children now to make good choices and the lessons will last a lifetime! Reduce, reuse and recycle!
Kathleen A. Siegel, RD, CDN and Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD are Registered Dietitians and Co-founders of www.NutritionBabes.com. Follow them on Twitter @NutritionBabes, and “Like” them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/NutritionBabes/111546645533613