If you think going green is confusing or unattainable, think again. On the contrary, there are so many things we can do on an everyday basis to help make our world a better place. If you’re looking for things to do with your family, or perhaps even to start a new family tradition, environmentally-based activities are a great place to start. Here are six fun and easy ways you can get started:
1) Take Your Family on a Recycling Hunt. It may sound cliche, but recycling is a fun and easy way to learn more about the environment. The benefits of recycling are many, and it is simply amazing to learn how many retail products are made with recycled materials.
In the not-too-distant past, only a handful of consumer products were recycled, most commonly newspaper and glass. But today, more products than ever are recyclable, including styrofoam cups and packaging materials, aluminum cans, plastic grocery bags and electronics packaging, and the wealth of food packaging that will quickly fill a typical-size trash bag in less than a week. Any product that has that typical recycling triangle symbol on the packaging is fodder for the recycle bin.
Take a day to go on a “recycle hunt.” Rummage through your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Have your family members write down every recyclable product they find, and they’ll be surprised at the number of items they can recycle. If your location does not offer curbside recycling, ask your local library whether they have a recycling facility on their property. If not, look in your local yellow pages for the recycling facility nearest you.
2) Plant a Tree. Trees are important not only for clearing the air of greenhouse gas-causing carbon dioxide, but also as a means of energy conservation in providing cool shading and wind buffering. Get your family together and research the varieties of trees suitable for your climate. The library and Internet are two great resources to find out what kind of tree would grow well in your area.
When you select the variety tree you want to plant, find a favorable spot in your yard with enough room for the tree to grow and expand. Also take into consideration the depth and length of the tree’s root system. Then go to your local garden center, purchase the tree, and ask them the proper procedure for tree planting.
When you get home, recruit the family to help prepare the hole, drop the tree in, fill, and enjoy watching it grow for years to come. Erect a post adjacent to the tree with a plaque inscribed with your family members’ names. Who knows, it might become a national monument in the years to come!
3) Compost. As a young boy, I remember my mother always complaining about the “stinky” pile of leaves and grass clippings in the corner of our yard. Every spring, my father and I turned the pit over to reveal the richest, most nutritious soil additive imaginable that he used in his home garden.
These days, many mail-order catalogs and garden centers offer closed-system composting kits, the most familiar being a large round drum on a stand with a handle to rotate the drum in order to facilitate fast and easy composting. So don’t throw leaves and grass clippings in the trash; start a family composting tradition that will show your kids how rewarding it is to create rich garden soil additive from scratch and help the environment at the same time.
4) Plant a Garden. Pick a sunny spot in your yard or on your patio using pots and plant vegetables purchased as young plants from your local garden center. Start off with tomatoes and lettuce as they are the easiest to grow. If you’re planting in the garden, first turn the soil over with a pitchfork to aerate and add homemade compost as described above. Be sure to water often, and add plant food to the plants in order to get the proper balance of nutrients necessary for strong growth.
If you’re in an exceptionally adventurous mood, try growing the veggies from seed. Make planting your garden a fun activity for the entire family, and reap the rewards of the best-tasting, sweetest veggies you’ve ever had in your life.
5) Solar Project Science Kits. Some retail outlets are selling solar project science kits that contain a solar panel and other accessories for learning more about solar power. Purchase a kit for your family and experiment with the various ways of using solar power. This will also get your kids thinking about how we can harness alternative energy. Who knows maybe you have a Thomas Edison in your midst and you don’t even know it!
6) Take a Walk. Going green begins with an appreciation for our natural world, and there’s no better way to get educated than to take a walk in your local park, nature preserve, zoo, or botanical gardens. Familiarize yourself with the variety of trees and shrubs in your area; observe the animals and birds; try to identify the kinds of rocks you stumble across. Take your family on weekend hiking excursions or walks through native habitat. It’s a very fun way for your family to spend time together while at the same time getting some much needed rest and relaxation.
These fun, easy activities make memories that last a lifetime. Try them today, and see how much enjoyment you and your family can get out of going green!