Earth Day is an internationally-recognized holiday to raise awareness about solutions for environmental issues. Though technically celebrated on April 22nd, Earth Day is a fun opportunity to instill environmentally-friendly values so that Mother Earth is feeling the love all year-round. Read on to plan an Earth Day your family will never forget.
Reminders to “turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth” or “try to take a quick shower” run the risk of being perceived as limiting. Instead, turn water conservation into a friendly competition. Brainstorm with your family other ways to conserve water. For example, put a timer in the bathroom to record water use in the shower and when brushing teeth. Perhaps it’s possible to earn bonus points by reusing the same water glass throughout the day or emptying excess water in plants rather than pouring it down the drain. See who can use the least amount of water that day, week, or month. Up the ante by offering a reward for the Water Conservation Champion.
Your children have probably heard the benefits of the 3 Rs — reduce, reuse, and recycle — in their classrooms, and it’s incredibly powerful when a child’s school values align with the ones they practice at home. Get your family involved by brainstorming lists of what qualifies as “trash” and what is considered “recyclable.” Have them create signs and draw pictures to increase a sense of ownership, to increase the organization of your trash/recycling area at home. If you’d like to take it even further, make a family trip to the local recycling center. Help your children see firsthand where trash and recyclables go after they leave your house. This perspective can be invaluable in creating a lifelong habit of being more thoughtful about waste.
Talk with your family about the importance of environmentally conscious transportation choices, like carpools, taking public transportation, biking, or walking to get around instead. Though many prefer to walk outside in warmer months, grab your kids' sweaters or kids’ winter coats and continue walking and biking in fall and winter.
Looking for a low-key celebration? No problem. You can celebrate Earth Day without leaving your house. Do you know that unused patch of dirt in your yard that’s been on your to-do list for ages? Use Earth Day as an excuse for a backyard glow-up. You can plant flowers, create a vegetable garden, or add a small table for casual family meals. Planting flowers not only beautifies your space, but it also adds oxygen to the environment. Take your family to the local gardening store and have everyone choose a flower or two they’re excited to plant. Even better, creating a vegetable garden serves as a bonding activity, contributes to sustainable eating, and is a tangible reward for prioritizing Earth-friendly choices — it’s a win-win-win!
Do you visit a spot weekly? Whether it’s the park, a lake, beach, or a basketball court, make a habit of bringing a trash bag each time you go. Tell your children that this is their home and that just like at your house, everyone must pitch in to keep it beautiful and clean. Once they’ve filled their trash bag, they’re free to play and enjoy their clean space. Children of all ages can appreciate that one bag of trash per week can make a significant difference in the year. If you choose to make this a weekly tradition, offer a treat such as a cup of hot chocolate when you return home. Build the association that helping the Earth feels good.
Along with these ideas, you really can't go wrong with a beautiful day hike. Earth Day is a fantastic opportunity to bask in nature’s beauty and remind your family members how important it is to give back in order to sustain our Earth. Remember to pack your best rain coats and don’t give April showers the chance to disrupt your hike celebration.
Want to take it a step further than a hike? Plan an eco-friendly camping trip. Create invaluable memories filled with kayaking, hiking, stargazing, and swimming. Load up your car, pack your swimsuit, your tent, and your children’s sleeping bags. You can’t underestimate the value of instilling a love of the outdoors for your family. This love of camping can create a foundation in which your family will want to preserve their beloved nature.
While there are plenty of crafts, pledges, competitions, outdoor activities, and vacation ideas here, remember this: There’s no right way to celebrate Earth Day. Choose what makes sense for your family and enjoy it.