This year, Earth Day is on Wednesday, April 22nd. It was first celebrated in 1970 and is our opportunity to celebrate the Earth and think about protecting our environment. What can we do with our families to celebrate?
Just get outside and enjoy nature!
- Go to a playground or local park (and pick up trash while you're there)
- Visit a natural feature or something you don't often think to do -- a waterfall, wetlands, a bird sanctuary, a botanical garden.
- National Parks: You can visit any of America's National Parks for FREE on April 18th and 19th!
- Plant a tree
- Plant flowers (native flowers are even better)
- Help the monarch butterflies by planting milkweed plants in your garden. Monarch butterflies in North America are in trouble and experts worry they may disappear permanently. Here is where you can find milkweed seeds in your area. Read more about saving the monarch butterfly over at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Think about the environment! Here are some facts we should share with the kids:
Plastic Bags: Each year a trillion trash bags are used around the world; 80% of these are used in the U.S. and western Europe. The average American family takes home 1,500 plastic bags each year! Less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled each year. Read through this fabulous pdf – slide show about plastic bags with your kids. Remember, plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove. Remember to bring those reusable cloth bags into the store with you.
Get free reusable bags at Wegmans on Earth Day. I have heard that if you bring in 5 plastic bags to your local Disney Store on April 22nd, they will give you a FREE Disney nature bears reusable tote bag. Limit one per customer, while supplies last.
Water: Did you know Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year? Nearly 1,500 water bottles are used every second! More than 75% of these wind up in landfills. Because plastic water bottles are shielded from sunlight in landfills, they will not decompose for thousands of years. Meanwhile, we've all heard about the droughts in California. Estimates vary, but Americans use 80 to 100 gallons of water each day. Did you know that nearly 4.8 billion gallons of water is flushed down U.S. toilets every day? Yikes! Depending on the model we have, we use 1 1/2 to 3 gallons of water to flush the toilet and 2 to 2 1/2 gallons of water per minute when we shower!
Electronics: Cell phones are made of precious metals, copper and plastic, all of which can be recycled. About 304 million electronics were disposed of from US households in 2005. Two-thirds of them still worked. Only 10 percent of the 140.3 million cell phones retired in 2007 were recycled. Some websites are dedicated to buying old electronics like Gazelle.com. You can also donate phones and other electronics to Cell Phones for Soldiers, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, etc. How Stuff Works has 5 Ways to Donate Your Cell Phone to Charity.
Disposable Plates/Cups/Utensils: Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.
Read more Waste and Recycling Facts over at the Clean Air Council's website.
Earth Day Fun for Kids:
The Department of Energy came out with a free coloring book, Get Current: Switch on Clean Energy, introduces students to solar, wind, water, geothermal, and biomass energies and suggests good energy efficiency habits to practice at home and around the community. It is available in English or Spanish.
Royal Baloo has a free PreK Earth Day Pack for ages 2 to 7.
3 Dinosaurs also has a free Earth Day Preschool Pack
There are 42 Free Earth Day Worksheets at education.com including endangered animal printables, punctuate the story (Earth Day), the amazing tree maze, inside earth word search and more.
We hope you enjoy Earth Day with your family on Wednesday!
Liesl homeschools her three elementary age kids and loves finding creative, hands-on activities and great books to share with her kids. Check out her blog at homeschoolden.com and follow her onFacebook, ,Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.