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By Jennifer Halter
Earth Day is on Friday, April 22, 2022, and is celebrated globally to bring awareness about the importance of caring for the environment. This year’s theme is Invest in our Planet, encouraging us to take an all-in approach to create a partnership between businesses, governments and citizens to work toward restoring nature and building a healthy planet for generations to come. Even though we have a day dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of protecting our planet, we can strive to do our part every day in our homes and throughout our communities to invest in our future.
Recycle. Create a fun system for recycling within your home. As more schools and organizations are recycling, your child is likely more familiar with the blue bins and even with being aware of whether something should be recycled. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to blue bins at home. You can create your own! Set up bins/boxes for the various items (plastic, glass, aluminum, etc.) and allow the kids to decorate and label them. Introduce a little friendly competition or set fun goals by seeing who can recycle the most each week.
Reduce food waste. Plan meals in advance with your family and create a shopping list…and stick to it! Make snacks easily accessible, so they are easy to grab and more likely to be eaten instead of getting lost in the fridge or pantry. You can buy items in bulk, which uses less packaging and put them in your own reusable containers/bags. If fruits, vegetables or meats are getting close to their expiration date, find ways to store and preserve food, such as freezing, canning or dehydrating.
Grow your own food. Having a garden at home benefits the environment. Save time and fuel by not having to travel to a grocery store to buy produce and herbs. Plus, having your children involved during the process from seed to fruit or veggie can help make them more excited about consuming healthy foods, making for less food waste.
Use reusables. Invest in reusable items instead of disposable, such as cups, bags and utensils. Use
refillable water bottles for school and the workplace, and try to find mugs or tumblers that keep your
beverage hot or cold, so you don’t need to use energy to reheat. Keep some reusable grocery bags in your
vehicle (because it’s easy to forget to bring them on your shopping trip) and be sure to ask your store if they provide credit for using your own.
Conserve electricity. Create a habit of turning off lights and electronics every time you leave a room or when items aren’t in use. For younger children, make simple picture signs and place them near light switches or other frequently used items as a reminder.
Donate. Landfills are often bombarded with household items, clothing, etc., that could easily be donated
and reused or repurposed. There are many local organizations for donating items, including some that
will come to your home and pick up from you. If items are in poor condition and aren’t suitable for donating, repurpose them, if possible. Old t-shirts make great wash rags for household chores.
Try alternative transportation. Even though many of us have transitioned to working remotely, it’s still important to conserve fuel and reduce your carbon footprint when possible. Try to carpool, use public transportation, ride bikes or walk to your destination.
Organize or participate in a cleanup. Many neighborhoods and parks organize litter cleanups a
few times each year. However, you can make every walk around your neighborhood or hike at the park an
opportunity to pick up trash and branches, pull weeds, etc. Carry safety gloves and trash bags with you and
recycle those items you collect when you can.
In the Community
There are many local organizations that provide volunteer opportunities to help protect our local parks, trails and more throughout the year.
Keep Prince William Beautiful relies on hundreds of volunteers each year to perform community cleanup projects, beautification initiatives and educational programs. They do have opportunities f or youth as well as group activities for organizations and business groups.
Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition is a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the Prince William County-wide system of trails and stream recreation. In addition to monthly
volunteer opportunities, they offer Adopt-a-Trail and Adopt-a-Stream programs where volunteers do cleanup activities twice a year.
Prince William County Public Works can help you get started with setting up a recycling program at
your business or school. Visit their website for more information.
Volunteer Prince William has a listing of various volunteer opportunities throughout the county, including those focused on helping the environment.
Getting your family involved in activities that promote compassion for our planet can make a huge impact on their future. Start early and make it fun so Earth Day is something everyone can look forward to every day.
Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas, free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round.