Environmental stewardship is a “biggie” in our house – our poor children have no choice. Being the spawn of a wildlife biologist/firefighter and a forester they could only have been more in touch with nature if they were the cubs of Smokey Bear or Woodsy’s owlets!
We adore Arbor Day and Earth Day because they are great excuses to get outside, get the kiddos in the fresh air and do a little teaching by our side, at our knees but you can do your part any day of the year! This pint-size schooling is how both my husband and I first became enthralled with the natural world ourselves and it will take this kind of passion to keep the world healthy and beautiful.
1) Participate in a Road Clean Up
This is a super fitness-friendly way to clean up your neighborhood or another area. If you’re really ambitious, most state highway departments have “Adopt a Highway” programs that allow folks to take care of a few miles of road way. They even provide the bags! Other options that always need the attention are: public boat landings and launches, playgrounds and parks, and the least glamorous but most litter-prone: parking lots. Do keep safety in mind if you are anywhere that cars are an issue!
2) Go Support a Farmer’s Market
It’s not only a friendly gesture to support the local friends and neighbors in your community, it’s a great way to spend your hard-earned money (locally) and teach the kids about carbon footprints and where food comes from. Even in northern climates you can get much of your food from local growers and farmers – we get things like soap, honey, even gifts from our local markets and artisans. The freshness tastes great and it makes us feel good knowing that Farmer Joe got our business. Save some transportation miles by eating a meal that is fully from sources within 100 miles of your home (if possible!)
These markets are great for afternoon family strolls, connecting as a community and eating fresh and organic foods! (We are fans of Stonyfield for pairing with organic finds at the market to make delicious recipes!) Farm fresh eggs are a sustainable way to support locals and eat better! Or, go big and start a small flock of your own!
3) Plant Something Native or Organic
Many people do not realize even when they are trying to help the environment (birds and bees) by planting flowers from local retailers; those plants may have been treated with chemicals and things that will have adverse effects for producing thriving habitats. Why not plant something from a local Master Gardeners Plant Sale and Swap? Or, if you’re still not sure of the origins, you can find organic seeds – like those from High Mowing Organic Seeds—and have a family planting session that will have you reaping the benefits later in the harvest months! Good for the environment and good for you! Plus, you’ll save on gas emissions and grocery money when you do not have to run out for a salad this summer!
Native plants are great for flower gardeners and they help the environment while still producing the pretty, appealing petals that are desired. See your local Extension Service or County Soil and Water Department for ideas and sources. I suggest Milkweed (for Monarchs) and restoring some native prairie grasses or wetland species!
4) Visit a Park
Many local, State and National Parks have special ranger-led community programs during the year. Look up a park close to your home or make a mini-getaway out of it by going to a new “green space.” The time outdoors will do you good and some events are FREE! If they are not free, much of the revenue for entrance fees goes back to helping the environment and the preservation and protection of public lands in some way.
We have had a blast in the past by simply being outside! Try a scavenger hunt or simply throw some coins into a sawdust pile to have that nostalgic fun of festivities from your own childhood! Who remembers sawdust piles being a blast? It’s a great way to have fun outside and you’re not inside using electricity!
5) Visit Serve.org
This handy website offers up events around the nation that are dedicated to service projects and springtime is a great time to find something special going on near you! You can access this site anytime if you are looking to log volunteer hours and it is a wealth of knowledge for all the great green goings-on that you and your family can participate in!
These are all simple ways to make a difference for our earth. Two of the most simple ways to celebrate the Earth that are not listed and require little effort, that everyone can do are:
– Commit to using a reusable water bottle and swearing off plastic bottles for good
– Unplug unused appliances and turn off the lights when you aren’t using them
Please link to my site, Field Guide to Parenting Outside