Earth Day Ideas for the Whole Family
Earth Day (April 22) offers us a natural opportunity to engage in intentional conversations and actions for the sake of our planet. People of faith have every reason to acknowledge the value of creation and take personal responsibility for caring for the natural resources entrusted to us.
Let’s be honest, caring for the earth is more than a once-a-year activity. Earth Day reminds us to review our habits and decide how we can become more responsible stewards of this beautiful planet. If you have kids or grandkids, involve them in your preservation efforts. Conversations about caring for our planet take on extra meaning when we focus on the endless ways creation informs us about our Creator.
Below are a few ideas for you and your family to consider this week, or any week.
1. Plant a tree
Tree planting is one of Bill’s favorite past-times. There are trees all over the Gaither property thanks to Bill. He beams with excitement when he sees young saplings grow stronger from season to season. Many of these trees were planted years ago; yet still, he watches over them like dear friends.
It is no secret that trees are an essential part of a healthy planet. Not only are they beautiful, they clean the air around us, provide shade from summer heat, and serve as a safe harbor for birds and other wildlife. If you don’t have space for a new tree in your own yard, there are tree-planting initiatives in many local parks this time of year. Your local Parks and Recreation Department might have information on tree-planting opportunities in your area. Trees also make enduring memorial gifts for those who have lost a loved one.
2. Visit a local farmer’s market.
Visiting a farmer’s market is a wonderful way to support local growers. Often farmer’s market vendors are passionate about caring for the earth and are excited to share how their produce is grown. Having kids ask questions about their goods is a great compliment to most growers; so farmer’s market visits can provide a beneficial educational opportunity in addition to building and supporting your local community.
3. Grow your own herbs, vegetables or flowers.
It is valuable experience for kids to witness the miracle of a tiny, dead-looking seed grow into something they can eat and enjoy! Some of Gloria’s favorite moments with the grandkids have been spent outdoors observing nature and talking about how things grow.
Many kids have no idea where all the produce in the grocery store comes from or how much care it takes to grow all those beautiful plants. Priceless conversations can gleaned from the miracle of planting, including: the concept of sowing and reaping, the way life can spring from seemingly hopeless circumstances, and the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8:4-15.
4. Produce less waste by recycling and reusing.
This is a no-brainer. Yet so many of us do not recycle. If you are not already recycling regularly, take a step and find the nearest recycling drop-off location in your area to take cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum. Electronics, batteries and printer ink cartridges have a particularly destructive effect on the environment when we throw them into the garbage. So find drop-off locations in your area that will properly dispose of these items so they do not end up in landfills. Often Target stores and health food stores have drop-offs or information about where to take recyclables.
Take the kids with you to drop off your items for recycling. Kids notice what is important to us and will likely inherit our attitudes of mindfulness about the trash we create and the responsibility with which we dispose of things.
5. Create useful things from your own reusable items.
Kids love doing crafts, so here are some simple, useful ideas of varying skill levels made of everyday used items!
· Fire starters made of cardboard tubes, dryer lint and paper. No one loves a bonfire more than Bill; so fire starters will get used up as quickly as we can make them around here. All you do is save up your dryer lint and cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper, then stuff the dryer lint inside the tubes. Finish them by wrapping the cardboard tube with used paper and twist on each end. (See photo for an example.)
· Upcycle tin cans to create attractive containers. You can spray paint them, affix pretty paper to them with Mod Podge, or cover them in twine or fabric using a bit of craft glue to dress them up. Then use them as organizers for craft supplies, pens, markers or even planters for herbs in your windowsill. There are countless upcycling ideas for tin cans for more advanced crafters available with a simple Internet search. Pictured here is one simple upcycled can that has been used to hold everything from pens to loose change during the past few years.
· Repurpose used tissue boxes into plastic grocery bag dispensers. Easily corral a pantry full of plastic grocery bags into empty tissue boxes for convenient access to one bag at a time. And speaking of plastic grocery bags, you can find countless tutorials on Pinterest.com or a Google search for how to make useful, even pretty things out of them.
· Create vintage-style necklaces with old keys. If you have drawers full of old keys (like most of us do) you can easily create unique necklaces out of them by affixing buttons, beads or old jewelry parts using epoxy glue. On the necklaces pictures here, a medium weight hemp cord was used as a simple hypoallergenic chain and we strung it through the key before adding embellishments.
We hope these ideas get you started in the right direction! If you have additional ideas for improving our planet, be sure to add them to the comments here or on our Facebook page!