Hopefully, you had some time to get out into nature this past Earth Day and have some fun. But, why let the festivities end there? We need our Earth to be healthy every day. Therefore, we challenge you to find an activity that will have lasting meaning for you and perhaps a child in your life and make a pledge.
Whether you believe that children inherit the Earth or that we are merely borrowing the Earth from our children, the fact remains that younger generations will have to live with the results of our choices today. Now is the time to take action to live more gently on the Earth, as well as to foster a child’s natural affinity for nature. Below are some ideas to get started.
Find your—or your child’s—“love” below and learn what you can do. Easy activities may take a few minutes. More challenging tasks can be done in an afternoon. Commitments are on-going.
Pledge: Avoid chemical pesticides in your lawn and garden
Easy: Embrace the dandelions! Make dandelion flower chains with young children. For older children and adults: Make your own pest control spray with this recipe.
Challenge: Plant native plants and trees. They don’t need high inputs of water, fertilizer, or pest control. They attract birds and beneficial insects to eat any pests. Children may need a smaller size shovel to help dig or they can help choose which plant species to add to the landscape and where.
Commit: Use manual and non-toxic techniques to remove weeds. Learn more. Small hands are great for pulling young weeds (but leave thistle and picky plants for gloved grown up hands or shovels)!
Pledge: Keep your favorite park beautiful and toxic-free
Easy: Bring a bag, wear gloves, and pick up litter! Consider donating any money from bottle deposit returns.
Challenge: Inquire about the pesticide policies at your favorite park and request pesticide-free.
Commit: Volunteer to help maintain a pesticide-free playground, park, or school by pulling weeds, spreading mulch, etc.
Pledge: Provide food sources and habitat for pollinators
Easy: Spread clover seeds in your lawn to attract and support bees. Let the dandelions flower. Both dandelions and clover are important food sources for bees.
Challenge: Plant milkweed seeds in your garden for monarchs. Plant other native plants to attract pollinators. Build native bee houses. Make a bee watering dish by putting rocks and pebbles in a wide, shallow bowl and partially covering the rocks with fresh water.
Commit: Don’t buy neonicotinoid pesticides (which have a warning label and a small picture of a bee) or plants that have had neonics applied. Ask your favorite bedding plants store to avoid neonic products on shelves and on bee-friendly plants. Learn more.
Pledge: Use less energy
Easy: Post small reminders to encourage family members to turn lights out when leaving a room and to unplug unused devices and appliances. Try: “Be nice, unplug twice: once at the outlet, once at the device.”
Challenge: Gear up your family’s bikes so you can leave the car in the garage for short trips to the park or school or errands that are close to home. Kids can pump air into bike tires, help clean bike chains, etc.
Commit: Set up a clothes line or rack to take advantage of free solar energy to dry clothes (even if just some of your loads) and give the second biggest consumer of electricity in your household a time out. No need to spend money and energy heating up clothes in a machine when it’s plenty hot outside! Speaking of hot, remember to forego the A/C whenever possible or turn it to a lower setting.
These are just a few ideas, but we can think about the Earth in all of our favorite activities. If you love to swim or spend time on the water, find ways to help protect rivers, the Great Lakes, and our oceans (such as avoiding microbeads in facial scrubs and sparkles in toothpaste or helping at a beach or river cleanup day). Gather ideas from children as well. They may offer up some wonderful surprises!
Our children are passionate about the Earth. Let’s find ways to have fun and also show them that they can make a difference! It’s their future in our hands.
Published on April 27, 2017