Celebrating Earth Day

While the environment remains an important topic year round, Earth Day is a particularly good time to focus on your family’s role in creating a cleaner, greener world. First held in 1970, this holiday is now celebrated every April 22 in countries across the globe. Read on to learn how you can join the festivities!

Creating a connection

“I feel it’s very important for children to feel a personal connection to nature,” says Kevin Kepler, Volunteer Services Manager at Five Rivers MetroParks. “Our natural environment is a source of great interest and curiosity for the young mind.” He encourages parents to introduce children to the outdoor world as soon as possible. Kepler believes environmental advocacy “starts with knowledge, interest, respect and love of something that a child or adult is connected to.”
Developing an appreciation for nature in young children can mean long-term benefits for the planet.

Patti DeLotell, Zorninger Environmental Lab Greenhouse & Garden Coordinator and Middle School Human Ecology teacher at The Miami Valley School, agrees. “A sustainable earth begins with a sustainable person,” she says. “Conservation habits can’t begin at too early an age.”

Making a difference

As Earth Day approaches, brainstorm with your kids about ways your family can honor this year’s holiday. Maybe you’ll decide to take some simple steps toward a greener lifestyle at home, or perhaps you’re ready to join (or launch!) a major conservation initiative in your area. To get you started, we’ve rounded up some ideas for small, medium and large ways you can make a difference.

Small efforts

*“Make a pledge to save a resource,” says Kepler. This could be as simple as beginning to recycle at home, turning off the water during tooth brushing or reusing towels between washings.

*Increase your family’s knowledge of the natural world by choosing a subject – perhaps a particular type of tree, fish or insect – to learn about,” suggests Kepler.

*Attend a local Earth Day event – check our list of options!

Medium efforts

*Round up old computers, printers and cables and send them off for a new life. Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley offers free computer recycling, with pick-up available for businesses and organizations. Find a list of accepted items and locations at gesmv.org.

*Analyze your family’s energy usage. The Corporation for National & Community Service, a federal agency, provides a detailed checklist at www.serve.gov/?q=site-page/toolkits/audit-home/four.

*Have a green thumb, or want to develop one? Grow a vegetable or two in your own garden.

*Clean up close to home. “Take a walk in your neighborhood with family members three times a week and collect any litter that you see along the way,” encourages Kepler.

Larger efforts

*Take your gardening to the next level. “A very large way to make a difference is to grow heirloom varieties and save the seeds to preserve for future generations,” says DeLotell.

*Join the students at The Miami Valley School and organize a group to participate in Montgomery County Solid Waste District’s Earth Day grocery bag initiative with The Kroger Co. (www.mcohio.org/services/swd/bag_request.html). Bag requests for 2015 closed in mid-March, but there’s always next year.

*Visit the www.earthday.org site and click on “Take Action” to find out how you can participate in large scale efforts to save the planet, like promoting The Climate Petition to encourage local, national and international leaders to phase out carbon.

However your family decides to celebrate, you can feel good about your efforts to raise kids who care about the world around them. Happy Earth Day!

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