April 22nd is a time to celebrate Earth Day and all that makes our planet extraordinary. Tiny details like hearing branches rustle, smelling a flower, or tasting a freshly picked apple allow us to use our senses to explore all that the natural world has to offer. It’s important that we remain mindful of the ways we can each do our part to protect the environment. It is not only a central part of our own lives, but also contains plant and animal ecosystems we need to protect. These efforts can be put into action year-round, and it’s easy for kids to get involved as well! Here are six ways for children to help protect and celebrate the environment.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
According to the USEPA, more than 69 million tons of material was recycled back in 2018. By being mindful about the waste you create, you can add to this number. The next time you’re throwing away paper and plastic items such as cartons, cans, and cardboard, put them in your recycling bin instead of the trash. This way, the materials can be processed and reused rather than thrown into landfills. You might also consider using reusable water bottles and containers instead of plastic ones, or bringing your own shopping bag when visiting the store.
For more information, visit Recycling Across America’s article on reducing waste and recycling right!
2. Conserve Electricity
Did you know that excessive electricity use can result in the emission of harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases? It can also release pollution into water and produce hazardous waste, all of which are dangerous to our ecosystems. You can help prevent this by reducing the electricity used in your home. Next time you leave a room, turn the lights off. Unplugging your electronic devices when you’re not charging them can make a difference, as well as turning off the TV when you’re no longer watching it. Visit the EPA website for more information on the harmful environmental effects of electricity.
3. Pick Up Litter
Picking up and throwing away litter is a simple way to reduce waste in the environment. Not only does it tidy up the planet and make it look cleaner, but it also reduces the risk of animals getting hurt from accidentally swallowing dangerous items. Dispose of all trash in a nearby trash can or dumpster. You can make this a fun experience for kids, challenging them to find five, ten, twenty, etc. pieces of trash to pick up—just make sure to wear gloves, wash your hands, and be mindful of sanitation.
4. Donate Outgrown Toys and Clothes to Goodwill
Has your child outgrown some of their toys? Do they have shirts that don’t fit right anymore? Just because you no longer need something does not mean it’s useless! If the items are in acceptable condition, donate them to your local Goodwill or other charities instead of throwing them away. This way, they will find a new home with someone else who will make good use of them. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
5. Plant a Garden
Want to grow your own plants? Do you like the beautiful smell of flowers in springtime or the taste of homegrown vegetables? Why not grow your very own garden! Not only will you get to enjoy these wonderful sensory benefits, but your plants will help produce oxygen through photosynthesis. Make sure to also use natural products and fertilizers when gardening, as they are a safer alternative to pesticides and other chemicals.
Need some tips for getting started? Check out our video to learn how to grow your own carrots!
6. Get Composting
Composting is a great way to improve soil health! It not only helps the soil retain its moisture, but also serves as fertilizer, gives it nutrients, and prevents erosion and disease. You can create your own compost with materials around your home such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and leftover fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen.
Learn more about how you can start composting at home with the help of our educators!
There is so much work to be done when it comes to environmental protection, but we all pitch in and take action to protect our planet, we can make a difference. Getting kids excited about the natural world and educating them on what we can do to protect it will change our world for the better and help keep our extraordinary Earth healthy and beautiful.
To continue celebrating the Earth all year round, check out our Earth Month webpage featuring educator-curated activities and lessons your kids will love. Find it here.
Happy Earth Day!