By: Elizabeth Donovan, M.A.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first observance of Earth Day on April 22, 2010 (first commemorated on April 22, 1970). Earth Day was created to help create awareness and inspiration about protecting our planet and natural resources. Earth Day is the largest environmental event worldwide and marks the birth and continual effort of the environmental movement.
Environmental responsibility and helping make our planet “green” are extremely important values to teach our daughters. Global issues like air pollution, soil contamination, and global warming are events that effect us all and can only be resolved through knowledge and change. Making a difference in your community can start with small changes such as recycling leftover aluminum cans or using cloth wipes instead of paper towels. Small changes often lead to big ones and that’s really what Earth Day is all about- finding ways to save our environment one small step at a time.
10 Activities to Teach Your Daughter About Earth Day:
1. RECYCLE. Talk with your daughter about how cans and bottles that we use are products that are wasted everyday if we do not recycle them. Help your daughter get involved by assigning her the task of sorting recyclables by glass, aluminum, and plastic and taking them out for pick-up. If you do not have recycling pick-up in your area, find out where you and your daughter can take your recyclables. Girls of all ages can help with sorting and recycling household products (just be sure to make sure little ones have help handling glass) and they will be doing their part to help save the earth in the process of learning about it!
2. CONSERVE ELECTRICITY. Let your daughter know that appliances and electronics such as lights, furnace, televisions, and radios all use electricity that is becoming less available to all. Encourage your daughter to turn off light switches and shut off the TV when she is not in the room. And remind her that certain appliances like DVD players use energy even when they are turned off, so the only way to conserve energy is to cut the power completely off. Teaching your daughter to do something small like shut off the lights, can save BIG on energy in your pocket book and for our planet.
3. MAKE SMALL CHANGES. Small changes in your daily routine can often make the biggest impact on helping to save our environment. Girls can do lots of small things that will really add up to keep our world cleaner and greener.
• When brushing teeth or washing her face – make sure your daughter turns off the water.
• Encourage your daughter to walk or ride her bike instead of driving her places (she should always use the buddy system though or you can walk with her).
• Tell your daughter to use small amounts of water in the bath tub or shower. When girls are little, they can conserve even more water by taking a bath ever other day and using a sponge bath in between days.
• Use a water bottle in your daughter’s lunch instead of juice box or other pre-packaged drink.
• Pack a reusable snack tin in your daughter’s bag instead of packaged foods.
4. GET INVOLVED. Environmental conservation can be a family activity. Go to your local park and pick up trash and recyclables together. Write a letter to your congressman/congresswoman about environmental issues in your area that you’d like changed. Have an “Earth Day” parade for the neighborhood kids at your house. No matter how you chose to celebrate Earth Day, make sure get involved and stay involved!
5. TALK ABOUT IT/READ WITH YOUR DAUGHTER. It’s not enough to just focus on teaching your daughter to be “aware.” She needs to understand why it’s important to recycle plastic bags and turn off the water while brushing her teeth. Take every opportunity to explain to your child why we must do things to save our earth.
Reading a book about our Earth is another great ways for girls of all ages to understand what’s happening to our environment and how we can help save it. Discuss the book with your daughter afterward and answer all of her questions. Some great books include:
• Celebrating Earth Day (Circle the Year With Holidays), written by Janet McDonnell and illustrated by Diana Magnuson.
• Clifford’s Spring Clean-Up, by Norman Bridwell.
• Earth Day, by Linda Lowery and illustrated by Mary Bergherr.
• Every Day Is Earth Day: A Craft Book (Holiday Crafts for Kids), by Kathy Ross and illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm.
- 365 Ways for You and Your Children to Save the Earth One Day at a Time, by Michael and Pat Hilton.
6. CREATE AN EARTH DAY PROJECT. Making a craft or Earth Day project together is a wonderful way to help your daughter learn about our Earth and environmental issues like pollution, garbage or energy. Surf the web and find cool Earth Day crafts you both can enjoy.
7. MAKE/USE A REUSABLE BAG. Plastic bags are a huge problem that face our environment each year. On average, it takes 1,000 years for a bag to break down! Instead of using plastic bags when grocery shopping, have your daughter make a few canvas bags for you to tote to the store. You can purchase these bags at craft stores or chains like Walmart and Target. Younger girls can use paint (hand prints are particularly cute) or markers to decorate the bags and older girls can get really creative with patches, puffy glue, and ribbon. Each time you go to the store, you’ll be saving thousands of years worth of plastic bag debris and your daughter’s decorations will be a wonderful reminder of why you are conserving!
8. DONATE. Recycling clothing and other household items is a great way to get your daughter involved. Let her go through old clothing or toys she has and pick out some to donate to your local thrift store. Take her inside the thrift store and show her that something “old” to her can be something “fun and new” to someone else. She may even find a few goodies at the thrift store for herself!
9. PLANT A GARDEN. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is another way girls can learn to appreciate and value the Earth while also feeling a sense of accomplishment. Find a small space in your yard and plant a garden with your daughter. Gardens provide hours of fun while also nurturing the Earth and learning to respect it.
10. ENJOY THE EARTH. Teach your daughter to enjoy the world around her. Take a nature hike or go for a bike ride together. Stop to smell the wildflowers or admire the beautiful sunset. Nature is all around us and the more your daughter appreciates and values her surroundings, the more likely she is to want to save them from extinction.
- Teach Your Daughter to “Go Green” for College
- Five Fabulous Tips for Toy Storage
- Green on the Go
- A Lesson in Raising Independent, Happy Daughters
- Butterfly Lunch Kit by KidsKonserve.com, value $42