By Jennifer Halter
Earth Day is on Monday, April 22, 2019, and is celebrated globally to bring awareness about the importance of caring for the environment. However, we don’t need a special day to do activities that help conserve and protect the Earth, so here is a list of some simple tasks you can do with the entire family to help with the cause:
Recycle. Create a system for recycling in your home. Set up bins/boxes for the various items (plastic, glass, aluminum, etc.). Make this a fun craft project by allowing the kids to decorate and label the bins with items around the house, such as reusing a cereal box to create signs.
Conserve electricity. Encourage everyone in the family to be mindful of turning off lights when exiting a room. Also, turn off and unplug electronics when not in use.
Reduce food waste. Sometimes, this can be a difficult task if you have kids who are picky eaters! But you can help reduce waste by meal planning, only using ingredients you need and getting the kids involved. Also, buy dry goods in bulk as it typically uses less packaging, and find ways to store and preserve food, such as freezing, canning or dehydrating. Getting creative with using leftovers can help reduce food waste and also help with your budget.
Use reusables. Instead of buying disposable cups, bags and utensils, invest in items that are reusable. Use a refillable water bottle for work or school. Look for mugs or tumblers that keep your beverage hot or cold, so you don’t need to use energy to reheat if needed. Use your own grocery totes when shopping. Many stores give you a credit for each bag of your own that you use.
Donate. Donate old clothes, shoes or other household items instead of disposing of them in the garbage. 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.
Organize or participate in a cleanup. Many neighborhoods and parks organize litter cleanups a few times each year. However, you don’t need to wait for one of these events to take place. You can take a walk around your own community and pick up trash, pull weeds and dispose of branches. Safety tip: Wear protective gloves, and if working near a road, wear a safety vest or bright clothing that allows drivers to see you.
Compost. Start a compost bin that you can use in your own garden or flowerbeds. You can purchase bins or make your own. The internet is full of ideas on how to get started.
Get a rain barrel. If you have space, rain barrels are a great way to conserve water and save on your monthly bill. Water collected in rain barrels can be used for watering lawns and plants and even washing your car.
Try alternative transportation. When possible, try to carpool, use public transportation, ride bikes or walk to your destination. This reduces fuel costs and reduces your carbon footprint by one pound for every mile you do not drive (Source: earthday.org).
Teaching our children about making small changes each day can have a huge impact on their future, so make it something they get excited about, and don’t see it as just another chore. Sing songs, be silly and let them get involved as much as possible in planning, preparing and executing all of your Earth Day Every Day ideas!
Jennifer Halter ([email protected]) is a contributing writer and the founder of Macaroni Kid in Woodbridge and Gainesville.