Earth Day is coming up on April 22. It offers an opportunity to teach children about the wonderful Earth we call home and how we can take care of it through conservation. Conservation efforts not only help our Earth, but can also lead to community service opportunities, teaching kids how to give back to their own communities.
Clean Up Your Local Park
Take an afternoon or weekend morning to clean up your child’s favorite local park. Bring trash bags, gloves, and wear clothes you won’t mind getting dirty. If possible, bring trash bags for both trash and recyclables. While picking up trash, talk to your child about why littering is harmful to the environment and disrespectful to others who share the public space. Reiterate to them how picking up the trash and disposing of it will help the park’s local animal populations and hopefully discourage future littering. This activity can even be done with a friend! The more, the merrier!
Get a Recycle Bin
If your family doesn’t have a designated recycle bin, Earth Day is a great time to get one and teach your child about recycling! Talk to them about how our landfills can only hold so much trash and recycling is a great way to reuse items we no longer need, keeping our landfills a little emptier. Use this simple recycling worksheet to teach your child what items can and cannot be recycled.
Composting provides another way to recycle trash (mostly food scraps like vegetables, banana peels, coffee grinds, etc.) from your own backyard. This activity will especially benefit the gardeners out there as compost produces nutrient rich soil that plants thrive in. Kids will love it, too, because it involves a lot of dirt and even some worms. To start a compost bucket, you’ll either want to put an open crate down on bare earth or you can use a tub or bucket. If your compost is in contact with an actual earth floor, you won’t need to add your own worms – they’ll find their way there! If you use a bucket, you’ll have to add worms yourself (You can buy some at feed stores or even online!). Follow these directions for a compost pile built directly over earth floor or these directions for compost buckets. This activity will not only teach your child another way to recycle and conserve, but also some science, as the worms break down added trash to the compost bin and turn it into rich soil!
Reduce Water Use
As most California kids probably already know, reducing water use is very important! The state may be out of a drought emergency, but in California, it’s inevitable more droughts will come. It’s important to keep up our conservation efforts despite drought conditions improving. Children can be taught to help conserve water for future droughts by taking shorter showers or baths, turning off the sink when brushing their teeth, and being mindful that water is precious. Too easily it can be taken for granted.
Reduce Electricity Waste
Similar to reducing water use, you can teach your child to conserve energy by turning off lights, video game consoles, televisions, computers, and any other electronic system when not in use to save electricity. If not for conservation, then at least for your electricity bill!
Foster a Love for Nature
You can teach your kids about conservation and walk them through conservation activities, but the only thing that will truly motivate them to conserve on their own is to foster a love for the Earth and its inhabitants. Get them out in nature, take them on hikes, to the beach, to zoos and aquariums, and watch nature documentaries with them. If they find their own love for the Earth and understand the obstacles it faces, the rest will come along on its own.