Earth Day is the day set aside with the idea that we each need to give thought to what we can do to help preserve our planet, so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of life.
Try incorporating these small changes into your family’s daily life:
- Buy food grown locally.
- Walk or ride your bike, carpool or use public transportation whenever possible.
- Combine errands. Make shopping lists to cut down on trips to the store, and save time too!
- Put your litter, including gum and cigarette butts in your pocket until you find a trash can. Talk with your children about how litter can cause injury and death to wildlife.
- Carry a plastic bag when you walk, for litter collection.
- Leave your picnic spot cleaner than you found it. Feed the birds and provide nesting spots. (If you have an outdoor cat, put a bell on it!)
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
- Turn the water off while you brush your teeth.
- Spend less time in the shower.
- Check for drafts and places where heat escapes, dripping faucets, etc. Have the gas and electric company come and do an energy audit.
- Get a water filter for the kitchen faucet and stop buying bottled water.
- Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.*
- Talk with your children about things they can do to protect their planet.
- Make a habit of turning off lights behind you, and teach your children to do the same.. Experiment: Walk around the house and add up the wattage of lights left on unnecessarily!
- Play outside, explore, to save electricity.
- Make recycling a family project.
- Make the switch to “green cleaners”.
- Periodically turn of lights and appliances for one hour as dusk falls (See Earth Hour)
- Put together an addition to your craft box consisting of recyclable materials.
every American household replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY
STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3
million homes for a year, more than $600 million in energy costs, and
prevent greenhouse gasses equivalent to the emissions of more than
fixture, for indoors and outdoors. (for more information, go to energystar.gov)
The Art of Recycling
It is important to teach your budding artist the necessity of using materials carefully so as not to create more waste than necessary. This is done by teaching the child to not only be frugal when using supplies (e.g., cutting a small piece of paper from the corner of a larger piece, using only the amount of paint or glue necessary), but to get into the habit of recycling for art. Once you get into a creative frame of mind, you can see the possibilities everywhere! Use egg cartons, margarine tubs, yogurt containers, jewelry gift boxes, and any other recyclables that fit the bill.
Help children collect, sort and store a wonderful stash of art supplies without spending a fortune! At the same time you will be helping your child to learn that s/he can truly have an impact on the environment!
- newspaper; magazines and catalogs;
- milk cartons (building blocks); egg cartons;
- aluminum foil (washed and dried); pie tins; Styrofoam trays (produce only)
- cellophane “windows” on pasta boxes; cereal boxes (great book covers!);
- plastic bottles and containers of all sorts except those containing hazardous materials;
- cardboard boxes; cardboard scraps; cardboard tubes;
- plastic lids of all sizes; buttons (counting games); spools
- pasta; dried beans, peas, rice (mosaics, musical instruments); crepe paper
- egg shells, washed (mosaics, flower pots)
- sea glass, seashells
- used wrapping paper; greeting cards (gift tags, collage place mats); wallpaper;
- paper bags; onion bags; straws; dryer lint
- necklaces; old jewelry; beads; combs;
- lost socks, mittens, and gloves
- clothes pins; popsicle sticks; wood scraps; sawdust
- packing popcorn; cotton balls; scraps
- fabric; scrap fabric; string; yarn; lace; ribbons
- sponges, toothbrushes for painting
- used streamers
- dried flowers and grasses; feathers; pinecones; pebbles and stones;
Catalog Choice is an easy, free service that allows you to decline unsolicited catalogs, reducing the number of catalogs in your mailbox and the number of trees that get sent to the paper mill. Simplify your life and save natural resources. The web site can be found at www.catalogchoice.org.
Group Projects and Activities
to Commemorate Earth Day
* Using the aforementioned children’s books for inspiration, create your own children’s story or book illustrating the importance of caring for our planet.
* Work with Primary or Elementary School students in developing a story into a play. Possibilities include previously listed children’s books.
* Organize a community clean-up along Canaseraga Creek, Williams Park, Babcock Park, Stonybrook. Culminate by sowing flower seed (as in Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Clooney) around the perimeters of parks and along shores.
* Publicize the clean-up by sponsoring a poster contest.
* Hold a bottle drive for contribution to an organization dedicated to environmental conservation. Pick your organization and educate the community.
* Publish a newspaper or put up a web site, regarding what your group is doing for environmental conservation. Include simple things we can each do to save the earth, a list of environmental organizations and how to contact them, stories, words of wisdom…
* Have a talent show with an Earth Day theme. Do a song, skit, commercial, story…
* Plant a wildlife garden. Use flowers and bushes that attract birds and butterflies!
* Get your community on the Earth Hour bandwagon!
Earth Friendly Gardening: Mrs. Anzalone’s Class Digs In
In commemoration of Earth Day 2000, Mrs. Anzalone’s 4th grade class decided to make their world a more beautiful place by creating a butterfly garden in the courtyard at E.B.H. Elementary School. I had the privilege of assisting in this endeavor. Following are some excerpts from the newsletter we compiled at that time. I couldn’t have said it better myself!
The Compost Heap
by Kyle Hoag and Ben Witte
The compost heap is lots of things that decompose and turn into fertilizer. It is good to use compost because organic material is reused, turns into good fertilizer, is good for gardens, and healthy for the planet.
Compost is made by putting leaves, grass cuttings, eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps outside. You need to layer compost, then dirt, then compost, then dirt and so on. Mix it up sometimes so the rain and air can work to decompose it. When the garden is started, put a little compost into the dirt. It will be nutritious and help the soil.
Do not use: pet droppings, meat scraps, colored newspapers, raw eggs, bones, butter or margarine, or other things that stink as they rot. *
Green Thumbs: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening by Laurie Carlson
- Butterflies are always searching for sweet nectar from their favorite flowers. They are attracted to flowers by both color and sent. Here’s what will bring the most butterflies to your garden:
- flowers with one solid color rather than mixed colors
- flower colors in this order: purple, yellow, blue, pink and white
- single flowers rather than double (frilly) flowers
- flowers with a strong sweet smell to attract butterflies from far away
- flowers planted in masses or grouped together so butterflies will notice them when they are flying overhead
- nectar flowers that bloom at different times to feed butterflies that arrive in your garden at different times of the year*
The Hummingbird Garden
by Sam Bovard and Noah Mark
Homemade Bug Spray and Other Cool Stuff
Slugs love to nibble the leaves of garden plants. Since they usually come out at night it can be very difficult to stop them. Stop those pesky pests by setting a delicious trap for them. Mix 1 tsp dry yeast, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 cup water in a shallow pan, one that slugs can climb into (e.g., a clean tuna can or foil pie plate). Set the pan out in the early evening. Slugs will come to it within minutes, fall in and drown.
Cut strips from the sides of a plastic (milk) jug. Cover the strip with petroleum jelly and hang it up; or attach the strip to a paint stick with hot glue. Push it into the ground next to the plants that are being eaten by flying insects (e.g., whiteflies).*
*Source: Green Thumbs: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening by Laurie Carlson
Note: There are numerous insects that are beneficial to the garden, making a tasty meal of those pesky plant eaters. For more information, check out these web sites!
Earth Hour- Last Saturday in March, 8:30-9:30pm
For more information, go to EarthHour.org.
A Few Great Books Worth Reading with Your Children
Celebrating Earth Day, Janet McDonnell.
Dear Children of the Earth, Schim Schimmel.
The Great Kapok Tree, Lynne Cherry.
Where Once There was a Wood, Denise Flemming.
The Lorax, Dr. Seus.
Ben’s Dream, Chris VanAllsburg.
The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton.
Miss Rumphius, Barbara Clooney.
Recycle: A Handbook for Kids, Gail Gibbons.
The Young Naturalist: An Usbourne Guide.
50 Simple Things Kids Can do to Save the Earth, The EarthWorks Group.
A Few Organizations Worth Looking Into
4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100,Arlington, VA 22203-1606
Working to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Oversees management on preserves, fosters fire ecology research, and promotes the judicious use of prescribed fire to meet biodiversity conservation needs through publications, information exchange, and fire policy reviews.
National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190-5362
The mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to educate, inspire and assist individuals and organizations of diverse cultures to conserve wildlife and other natural resources and to protect the Earth’s environment in order to achieve a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future. National Wildlife Federation’s main goal is to raise awareness and involve people of all ages in their fight to conserve and protect the environment.
National Parks Conservation Association
777 6th Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001-3723
phone: 800-628-7275e-mail: email@example.com
Mobilizing citizens and joining with communities, businesses, landowners, and activists to protect park resources by battling abuse and neglect, educating the public, promoting local restoration, and fostering better management in parks nationwide. In Congress, promoting parks legislation and lobbying for public funding to meet growing needs. In the courts, establishing legal safeguards that will protect our national parks for years to come.
N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation
“conserve, improve, and protect its natural resources and environment, and control water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well being… Inform the public about environmental conservation principles and encourage their participation in environmental affairs.
National Audubon Society
700 Broadway; New York, NY 10003 212 979 3000
The mission of the National Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.