By Kristen Swanberg
Audubon Senior Director of Education
Earth Day provides a special opportunity —not only to celebrate the wonders and diversity of our planet, but also to explore many of the environmental challenges it faces.
Today there is a lot of talk about climate change and how it is affecting our planet. Newspapers and scientists report that global warming is causing icebergs to melt and creating bizarre weather patterns around the world. Global warming can be a bit overwhelming and a little scary to think about — especially for kids.
It is important to remind them that even though people are the cause of global warming, we are also the solution. And they can play an important part in helping planet Earth. Making simple changes in the way you do things can make a big difference.
Here are some ideas for families:
– First and foremost remember the 3 R’s: REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE
– Have children spend more time outside learning and discovering nature in their neighborhoods. The more they know about the environment, the better prepared they will be to help it. And remind them to share what they’ve learned with others.
– Turn your backyard into a wildlife habitat – add birdfeeders, native plants, and water for wildlife.
– Pack lunches in reusable containers to help reduce the amount of trash you produce.
– Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible to reduce the use of your family car.
– Drink from reusable water bottles. Many plastic bottles never get recycled.
– Don’t idle! Turn off the engine when the car is parked to eliminate harmful pollution.
– Turn off lights, appliances, computers, and video games when you are not using them.
– Cut down on how much paper you use — use both sides of each sheet.
– Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs to reduce energy consumption.
– Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!
– Reduce how much water you use brushing your teeth, washing dishes or watering plants.
– Plant a tree and care for it.
– Take your own reusable shopping bags to the store — you probably don’t need another plastic bag.
– Buy only what you need. Use less. Choose what will last!
– Organize a neighborhood clean up.
Talk to your kids about these thought-provoking topics…. what changes could you make to help the environment?
– Select your favorite food, and map out how far it traveled to get to your house. Did that apple come from Rhode Island or Fiji? How about those potato chips: where did the potatoes come from, where did they go to get processed, packaged, and distributed? How much energy was used to transport your favorite food?
– Before you throw something out, think about where it will go. How long will it take to break down? Is it recyclable? Could you reuse it?
Butterfly photo courtesy of Kristen Swanberg, Audubon Senior Director of Education.