The following is another guest post by my creative, crunchy (in the best way) friend Carly Tatum.
I desperately want my boys to be good citizens of our planet.
It’s a daily pursuit: “Please put that trash in the waste bin. We don’t cut our bushes with swords. We pee in the toilet, not on the trees!!”
Whenever I can, I look for ways to engage my little rascals in activities that connect them with our environment. But for those of us with really little guys, whose natural instincts are to destroy things, you can easily do more harm than good.
I offer you some simple family Earth Day activities that bring the kiddos (and parents) closer to nature…
Go on a Trash Hunt
It’s like hunting for Easter Eggs, but you’re collecting litter. The older kids can trade in their trash for chocolate (after they wash their hands, of course!).
If your children are older and tamer than mine, consider participating in a more official clean-up like Keep Austin Beautiful’s annual Clean Sweep. It’s a city-wide service day spanning 130+ sites in 31 zip codes throughout Austin. Annually, volunteers collect over 26 tons of trash! And of course you get a free t-shirt and live music upon completion.
Just Start Digging
Get ‘em some super cool gloves and a shovel, and just let them dig. They’ll learn about soil, worms, rocks. If you want to go crazy, let them bury some treasure.
If your kid is not a fan of getting dirty, consider reading them The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth. Then try digging again.
Whether you have a green thumb or not, gardening can be a great activity with the kids. Now that they’re pumped about their gloves and their dirt holes, take them to the garden store to pick out their own seeds. They will love burying the seeds, watering them, and watching them grow.
And even the pickiest of eaters often want to try the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. I caught my picky one voluntarily chomping on swiss chard.
Give Something Up
This year I’m starting a new Earth Day tradition. Following the Catholic practice of lent, our family is going to give up one thing that will make us better stewards of the planet. We’re going to #StopSucking– on plastic straws.
In the U.S. alone, we use 500 million plastic straws every day, many of which will enter the ocean harming sea life and making their way into the bellies of fish aka the primary food source for over 3 billion people on the planet. Not cool.
For my kiddos, giving up straws will be seamless. We carry around CamelBaks everywhere we go. But for my husband and me, it will mean refusing straws at restaurants, bars, parties. It is going to be hard. My plan is to carry reusable straws in my purse.
Explore, Explore, Explore
There is no better way to instill a passion for the planet than exploring the great outdoors. Austin is surrounded by fantastic scenery so skip your local playground one weekend, and venture out. Kayaking Town Lake is a family favorite. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is another kid-friendly option. Camping at Enchanted Rock is next on my list.
So there you have it. I’m just a mom on a mission to turn tots into tree-huggers who grow up to appreciate and protect our natural resources. Lord knows we’ll need them! Who’s with me?