Every year on April 22, my family celebrates Earth Day along with millions of families around the world. Started in 1970, Earth Day encourages us to appreciate the environment, become more aware of the issues that threaten it and take action.
There are plenty of ways that kids can commemorate the day, no matter how old they are. Check out these 30 ideas for easy ways that everyone from preschoolers to teenagers can reduce, reuse and recycle this Earth Day.
- Teach your kids to turn off the water when brushing their teeth.
- Recycle! Have young ones place items such as paper and cans in dedicated recycling bins rather than the trash.
- Transform trash into treasure. Preschoolers can create beautiful works of art by reusing and repurposing bottles, yogurt cups, leftover fabric scraps and the like.
- Demonstrate to little ones how to cool your house on hot days by pulling the drapes closed instead of dialing down the air conditioning.
- Likewise, bundle up in layers on cooler days rather than turning up the heat.
- Teach little ones how to turn the lights off when leaving a room.
- Have your kids play with eco-friendly toys and games, like wooden puzzles dyed with nontoxic stains or balls that are BPA- and phthalate-free.
- Make bird feeders out of natural ingredients like pine cones and birdseed.
- Engage them in planting a garden and growing vegetables that your family can eat.
- Get a houseplant or two and talk about how plants improve the air we breathe.
- Elementary school kids can help with shopping for recyclable products. Have them look for labels that say recycled content, pre-consumer and post-consumer.
- Kids can place small recycling bins in each bathroom in the house. Bonus points if you can get them to empty them each week into the curbside recycling bin!
- Show them how to use reusable rags instead of paper towels to clean up messes.
- Create a compost pile, whether on the kitchen counter or in your backyard. Kids can throw in egg shells, coffee grounds and most food scraps and wait for them to turn into rich soil for use with plants outside and in.
- Encourage them to sign up to pick up trash from community spaces like playgrounds, parks or beaches.
- Teach them to turn off the lights when they leave the room
- Let the kids make signs in every room of the house that remind family members to turn off the lights.
- Use reusable water bottles rather than single-use plastic bottles.
- Plant a tree at school or home.
- Plant milkweed native to your area to help the monarch butterfly population.
Tweens and teens
- Bigger kids will enjoy visiting thrift shops to nab pre-owned pieces that otherwise may have ended up in the landfill.
- Don’t forget to encourage them to use reusable bags when shopping.
- Have them unplug their electronics and chargers when not in use.
- They can also turn off their desktop and gaming monitors when they aren’t using them.
- Ask them to devise ways your house can collect rainwater for use on houseplants or flowers.
- Turn off the lights when leaving the room. (Yes, you’ll probably still be working on this one with teens even though you’ve been preaching it since they were little!)
- Recycle old cell phones. Make sure to take out SIM cards and erase the phones first, usually with a factory reset. Teens may also need to remove the battery and research how and where the battery can be recycled properly.
- Use a timer to conserve water when taking a shower.
- Remove makeup with cleanser and a reusable wipe instead of disposable wipes.
- Host or volunteer at a hazardous electronic waste collection event.