In anticipation of Earth Day 2012, Publicity intern Lauren Jow reflects on the importance of starting basic environmental education early.
These days, basic environmental education is as normal as any other school subject. It’s easy to take this for grantedâ€”it’s been an integral part of my generation’s upbringing, and school children are growing up understanding the value of the environment more than any other generation before them. Sadly, it’s a relatively new consciousness in relation to other past and present national and international priorities. Today’s youth can thank activists from the late 1960s and 1970s for bringing environmental appreciate to the mass media. The history of Earth Day is a lot for kids to process, and while it’s great to encourage green potential in children, you can begin cultivating their interest in environmental issues though simple activities.
Here are three of our favorite ideas on how to be eco-friendly while involving the kids:
1. Join a community garden, eat local.
Many cities have garden plots intended for public use. Some are hosted by churches, food banks, schools, NGOs, etc. and are usually welcoming of all volunteers. Others use a rental system and are available for seasonal or yearly use. A quick internet search should familiarize you with options in your area. If there aren’t any, start your own initiative! The American Community Garden Association has a program to help start plots in new areas. You might have to do some fundraising, but it’s a program that never stops giving back. Urban farms and community gardens are the perfect way to bring people together. Food can unite even the most remote strangers and gardening is an activity for all ages. You’ll find this activity to be fun, educational, environmentally productive, socially progressive, and healthy.
2. Green your diet for a week
Making small changes in your diet–like going vegetarian or vegan–can have a large impact on your carbon footprint. The meat that you consume on a regular basis has a direct impact on your carbon footprint. For example, did you know that eating a diet that’s heavy in red meat can create a carbon footprint of 3.57 tons? A full vegetarian diet will reduce your footprint to 1.5 ton of emissions per year! While results may vary depending on where you live and how much meat you currently consume, greening your diet can definitely make a great impact towards protecting this planet.
It doesn’t matter if your kids love veggies or if they pick them out of every dish. Most children love a challenge if they understand that it’s for a greater cause, so tell them about the environmental benefits of a vegetarian (or vegan) diet and suggest that the family tries to eat that way for a week. There are great books that can help explain concepts to kids. Vegan Is Love by Ruby Roth is a great start. She also has an earlier book, That’s Why We don’t Eat Animals, that may be useful.
3. Make a living herb box
If the scale of a community garden is daunting or if you can’t find one near you, why not plant your own mini garden box? An herb garden is a great introduction to growing your own food because it’s small, portable, low maintenance and practical. You can buy a few plants from your local nursery and start a few plants from seed. Kids love seeing the growing process and it’s exciting for them to watch seeds sprout and grow. Food tastes better with fresh herbs, and with such a simple project, there’s no reason not to indulge. Here’s an easy tutorial, or search the web for one that works for you.
Pledge an act of green today and celebrate earth day on April 22, 2012. Keep an eye out for more Earth Day related articles on NAB Communities to come.
Featured Image by evoo73 on Flickr Courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing