They paved paradise and put up a parking lot generations before we became moms, and since then the world has become a place where food comes from colorful boxes instead of farms and entertainment takes place on hand-held screens instead of running around outside. But that doesn’t mean our children have to live a processed, technology-obsessed existence. Just in time for Earth Day, here are 7 ways you can get your kids more connected with the natural world, and more respectful of the amazing richness their “Mother Earth” brings to us every day.
- Garden. Plant seeds that grow edible fruits and vegetables. Then, eat them!
- Give the theme parks a rest. There’s nothing wrong with Donald and Goofy, of course, but why not plan your next vacation about the great outdoors so your children can climb mountains, feel sand slip between their fingers or cold stream water rush over their bare feet.
- Play outside, with them. If you have a fenced in backyard or live in a very safe, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, it’s tempting to send your kids outside, alone, so you can finally get something done. While this is certainly preferable to having them idle the hours away on a computer, every now and then, make sure you go outside with them. Pick flowers together, collect rocks, build a fort, even if it means getting messy. If you spend a few hours outside, be sure to pack a colorful picnic spread and eat off of compostable paper bowls and utensils.
- Take a field trip to the farm. Pay an occasional visit to the actual farm that supplies the produce, milk, eggs or other staples that your supermarket sells, so that your children understand that eggs really do come from chickens, not Aisle 6.
- Let them help you read the ingredients. If you prefer to skip the sulfates when shopping for soaps and shampoos, ask your kids for help checking the ingredients list to make sure the product is acceptable to your household—and explain how sulfates can pollute our water streams. Teach them how to compare labels on conventional house cleaners and plant-based products and ask them to help you decide which one to buy.
- Stop by a polluted area. Unfortunately, this likely will be easier to find than the farm where your milk comes from! Show them a lake filled with soda bottles and those icky sulfates and ask them how they think it impacts fish and birds that live in this habitat. Ask them how the air is different in your neighboring big city.
- Clean up the Earth, together. Spend time together helping to pick up litter. You’ll both feel good about making the world a better place, one candy wrapper or soda can at a time!
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