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When I was in 3rd grade my teacher chose me to star in our class play for Earth Day. I was Planet Earth, and there was a “Planet Clean and Safe” that was a much happier place than Earth. In the play we talked about how to protect Earth and make it happier like “Planet Clean and Safe”.
I think those lessons from my 3rd grade play stuck with me as an adult. I’ve always loved our beautiful planet and I strive to do my best to protect it everyday. I am also trying to teach my kids these lessons. So today I’m sharing 8 things I do everyday (and encourage my kids to do too!) to protect our Earth.
Bonus! Keep scrolling to the bottom of this post for a list of our 12 favorite Earth Day STEAM Activities for Kids from the blog!
1. Use reusable water bottles, snack bags, and lunch containers
I have an awesome glass water bottle by Lifefactory that I have used daily for years. I first bought one when I lived in Australia. At the time I read somewhere that using glass was better for the planet (and the taste of the water) than plastic reusable water bottles, but I was scared I would break it easily. I am very clumsy.
These water bottles DO break, I’ve probably broken about 3 glass water bottles in the 10 years I’ve been using them, but that’s not too bad! I’ve dropped it many, many times, and it’s surprising what it can withstand without breaking! However, my kids use plastic and metal reusable water bottles only. I don’t think they are ready for glass yet! 😉
If you want to learn more about what kind of reusable water bottle might be best for you, I found this article from Michigan State University helpful in explaining the pros and cons of glass, aluminum, and plastic water bottles.
I’ve also bought reusable snack bags for my kids school snacks. I used to send their snacks in plastic bags that were getting thrown away daily. It wasn’t sitting well with me, so I looked online and was happy to find an affordable reusable snack bag option. We’ve been using these bags for the last year and my kids and I are really happy with them (especially because they are dishwasher safe)! Occasionally they get left at school overnight, but they always eventually end up coming home. 🙂
I pack my kids’ lunches in reusable containers. It reduces the amount of plastic bags and waste going into the trash cans everyday, and I think these containers make it easier to plan healthy lunches. I pack a sandwich in the large compartment, and fruits, veggies, and a small snack in the other compartments.
In case you are interested in the reusable containers we use and love, I’ve linked to them on Amazon below.
2. Turn off water when brushing teeth and washing dishes
Have you ever left the water running in your sink while brushing your teeth? I definitely used to do this. In our Reduce Reuse and Recycle STEM Activity for Kids blog post, my kids collected the water that was would be wasted if we left the sink running while brushing teeth for 2 minutes. We were shocked by how much water we collected. It’s easy to train yourself to remember to turn off the water while brushing teeth, and it can make a huge difference in water conservation.
Another instance when I noticed I leave the water running is while washing dishes. Since noticing this I’ve made a conscious effort to turn off the water while soaping and scrubbing my dishes, and only turn it back on to rinse everything clean. I know this is helping conserve lots of water everyday.
3. Open window blinds and turn off lights during the day
Every morning my kids and I open the blinds on every window in the house to bring in the natural sunlight. This makes it so we don’t need to turn on many lights during the day. I also make sure to turn off the TV when no one is watching it. I know these things are little actions to conserve electricity, but slowly little things will add up to making a big impact on our environment.
I’ve become even more acutely aware of our electricity use after we had rolling power outages during a winter storm this year here in Houston. I learned that the demand on our power grids is continually increasing due to the weather extremes we experience in Houston, so I’m do everything I can to reduce my power consumption everyday.
4. Use reusable shopping bags
I have a large stash of reusable shopping bags. I made it a habit to remember to bring them into the store with me every time I shop for groceries. It saves so many plastic bags from coming home with me every year.
I need to work on remembering to bring the reusable bags to places other than the grocery store. I always forget them when I go to Target and end up coming home with lots of plastic bags again. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve asked my kids to help me remember the reusable bags, and together we will try to use them more!
Plastic bags are not recyclable in our area, and they can take over 300 years to decompose in a landfill. When they do start to decompose they can contaminate our water and soil with toxic particles. (source: Plastic Bag Polluation)
This is why it’s important to do our part to reduce our consumption of these single-use plastics. When I do get plastic bags I always reuse them as trash bags at home or reuse them in a STEAM activity with my kids!
5. Buy clothes in classic styles and colors that you can wear for years
I don’t buy new clothes often because I’m not a huge shopping fan, and I often feel overwhelmed in clothing stores with all the selection. When I do shop for clothes, I try to buy classic colors, patterns, and styles that don’t go out of style. I rewear my clothes for years and years, and only retire clothes when they develop unattractive holes (I’m ok with holes in my jeans because that’s in style, it’s holes in t-shirts that are a problem…), or become discolored.
For my kids, I buy the minimum amount of clothing they need each season, and we do hand-me-downs when possible (but doesn’t happen often for us with a boy and a girl). When they do outgrow their clothes I donate them to local organizations that give clothes to kids in need.
I found it surprising to learn more about the negative impact the fashion industry has on our planet. Did you know 85% of textiles go in the dump every year? And up to 30% of the plastic pollution in our oceans comes from washing clothes containing plastics like polyester. (source: World Economic Form facts on the fashion industry)
The more I learn, the more it makes me want to do better for our environment by reusing clothes for as long as possible and buying 100% cotton clothing.
6. Plant a garden
I’ve shared on my blog several times about my family’s love for gardening. You can read more about our garden and how gardening is a great activity to do with your kids in this popular post.
When you grow your own food you are reducing food waste. Sometimes I buy more produce than I need (especially herbs, in my case) at the store, or I forget to use some produce before it goes bad. By having a garden, I can just walk into my backyard and pick the herbs I need instead of buying 5x the herbs I need and throwing away most of it.
7. Walk or ride a bike instead of driving
This year my son was able to be a hiker/biker at his elementary school. I ride my bike with him everyday to take him to and from school. We both love this daily activity that we get to do it together, and we are reducing emissions by not driving to school everyday.
When my husband and I lived in Australia we chose to live in the city close to work. We walked about a mile to work everyday. It wasn’t always fun (think arriving to work drenched in sweat during the summer, or soaked from the rain, or freezing cold in the winter), but most of the time I enjoyed our daily walks. I got extra exercise, got some alone time to talk with my husband as we walked, and we were doing something good for the planet by not making emissions on our way to work.
During our time in Australia, we would also walk to the grocery store. This reduced food waste for us because we could only buy what we could carry home, so we were only buying food we would definitely use in the next day or two!
I know walking or riding bikes is not possible in every neighborhood, but if you do have something close by that you can walk or bike to instead of driving, give it a try! I’m sure your kids and your body will thank you for the extra activity!
8. Don’t litter (and pick up litter in your neighborhood)
I’ve taught my kids from a young age not to litter their trash. Now whenever they see trash on the ground around town they get upset and tell me that someone littered. If we do see litter when walking around our neighborhood and it is safe to pick up, my kids and I will place it in the trash can.
The thing I am working hardest to teach my kids is that doing small actions daily will make a huge impact on protecting the earth over the course of our lifetimes. We are each just one person, but it takes all of us doing the right thing to make a larger change that will make the planet clean and safe for future generations!
Happy Earth Day!
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day with your kids? If you need some ideas for Earth Day STEAM Activities I’ve compiled a list of my previous Earth Day themed posts below:
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Earth Day STEM activities for kids
- 7 Benefits to Growing a Backyard Garden with Kids and How to Get Started Today!
- Exploring the Five Senses Outdoors | Earth Day STEAM Activity for Kids
- Coloring using Plants | Earth Day STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Boat using Recycled Materials | Earth Day STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Kite using Recycled Materials | STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Pinwheel | STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Parachute | STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Car using Recycled Materials | STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Bird Feeder | STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make a Nest | STEAM Activity for Kids
- Make S’mores in a Solar Oven | STEAM Activity for Kids