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Wild Child! Living Green

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These easy-to-implement eco-friendly activities will help you get the kids on board for Earth Day (April 22) and beyond

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April 22, 2022 marks the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, and the world needs you and your actions! It’s our job as parents to teach children to be good stewards of the earth by encouraging them to love and respect the world around them. And getting them on board when they’re young (pre-school-young) encourages them to continue the tradition as they get older. Think how proud you’ll feel if your child turns out to be the next Greta Thunberg!

There are so many things that families can do together to express and grow their love of nature and their determination to protect it. You’ll find plenty of fun activities listed here, all of which can be done at or close to home, while social distancing.

GET OUT THERE AND ENJOY

People protect what they love, and it follows that to be truly eco-aware children need to spend plenty of time outdoors, appreciating the beauty of nature. So why not organise a special family hike or bike ride on April 22? This way your kids will get the opportunity to enjoy what Mother Earth has to offer, while being active and adventurous. Or maybe they would prefer to get out on the water? You could spend the day observing nature from a non-polluting kayak, rowboat, or stand-up paddleboard. Whatever outdoor activity you choose, be sure to bring along a bag to pick up any litter you spot and some binoculars to do some birdwatching.

If you’re looking to make a day of it, pack an eco-friendly picnic, complete with reusable containers, utensils and water bottles. To reduce your carbon footprint, prepare a vegan meal.

You can follow this up with a nature scavenger hunt: Encourage your kids to use the materials they find – shells, sticks, rocks, leaves or flowers – to create a piece of eco-art on the ground for other families to find. Or maybe they would enjoy a grounding, outdoor yoga session? Encourage them to stand barefoot in the grass so they can feel the earth under their feet; ask them to breathe in the fresh air and focus on the sunshine and wind on their skin. Pick some of your favourite earth- and animal-related poses for them to try, like tree, turtle, butterfly, lotus and frog.

STAY HOME AND WATCH TV

For something entirely different, you could choose to take a virtual day trip with your family from the comfort of your living room. Consider places your children might like to visit, places they would be inspired by and showcase them. Pick the right TV series and the world really is your oyster – you can climb Mount Everest together, visit the Grand Canyon, explore the Antarctic or ride across the Gobi Desert.

Virtual holidays are a great way to enjoy fabulous far-flung places without the environmental cost of flying. You can teach your children that this is a viable way to reduce their carbon footprint and still have fun, too.

GROW GREEN THUMBS

You don’t need a garden or even a balcony to encourage your kids to develop green thumbs. Indoor gardening is a real option even in the tiniest apartment, and setting one up makes for a perfect Earth Day activity – children get to play with dirt (which most love), while learning to value and nurture nature in a hands-on way.

To set up a simple indoor garden, place plants in windows that receive a decent amount of light. Windows that face south and west usually receive enough light to grow herbs and leaf and root vegetables. East- and north-facing windows receive less light and are ideal for shade-loving houseplants. When choosing a location for your indoor plants, also consider accessibility. Your kids will need room to water and monitor plants, and they will need space to clean around their indoor garden.

Children can use just about anything for a plant container as long as it has drainage holes; you can show them how to place their pots on individual saucers to protect the windowsill from water damage. Soilless potting mix works well since it anchors plants firmly, keeping them upright, while serving as a reservoir for water, air and nutrients.

The next step is to teach your children how to care for their plants; you’ll be amazed how much they love watching them grow. Help your kids get to know the moisture needs of their various plants – some prefer a consistently moist soil, while others do better when the soil dries out between waterings. You can also teach them to apply water directly to the soil and to discard excess water from plant saucers so the soil does not get too wet.

TEACH KIDS TO NURTURE NATURE IN A HANDS-ON WAY
TEACH KIDS TO NURTURE NATURE IN A HANDS-ON WAY

REPURPOSE AND RECYCLE

Children love making art from just about anything including trash! Cardboard boxes plus imagination equal robots, houses and even space rockets! So, give your kids a selection of materials you would normally throw away or recycle and get them to transform them into a sculpture. Encourage them to paint and decorate their creation, then display it proudly. Through this sort of activity, children learn the concept of repurposing, they see at first-hand how easy it is to give items that are destined for the recycling bin a new lease of life.

Showing kids how to sort recyclables and asking them to place each type of recyclable (plastic, metal, paper and glass) into separate bins is another worthwhile Earth Day activity. And again, it’s ideal for pre-schoolers or kindergarteners, since it’s a skill they’ll use for the rest of their lives. As your children get older, you can make them responsible for sorting the household waste into the correct bins – this household chore can be made more appealing with the addition of a pocket-money incentive.

All of DB’s villages have communal separation bins, clearly labelled for plastic, metal, paper and glass, but it’s important to note that hard-to-recycle items, including soft plastics/ polyfoam, liquid cartons, electrical appliances, rechargeable batteries and energy-saving lightbulbs and fluorescent tubes, need to be disposed of at the [email protected] pop-up recycling station near Parkridge Village.

ENCOURAGE KIDS TO REPURPOSE RECYCLABLES
ENCOURAGE KIDS TO REPURPOSE RECYCLABLES

JOIN A BEACH CLEAN-UP

A startling fact: Every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence, the result of which is brought into sharp focus when visiting DB’s beaches, so often blanketed in waste left behind by visitors or washed in from the sea. Earth Day is a great day to tackle that. This final piece of the eco-puzzle gives children the opportunity to get hands-on resolving the crisis on our own doorstep.

Alongside Plastic Free Seas (www.plasticfreeseas.org), local non-profit DB Green (www.dbgreen.org) organises regular beach clean-ups that are suitable for the whole family. Bring your own reusable water bottle and you’ll be supplied with reusable cotton gloves and rubbish sacks. The difference is immediate and profound, and underscores the importance of environmental awareness to kids that participate.

CLEANING A BEACH INFORMS KIDS ABOUT PLASTIC POLLUTION
CLEANING A BEACH INFORMS KIDS ABOUT PLASTIC POLLUTION
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