Monday, April 14, 2008

Theme of the Week Challenge

Thanks to everyone who participated in our flower challenge last week. We know by the numbers that a lot of you were checking the blog. I hope that you moms got a couple ideas to help you through the week. As always, you are all invited to be vocal and share your thoughts with the group.

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m a little green around the edges when it comes to conservation issues. In case you were not aware, April 22nd is Earth Day, and April 25th is Arbor Day. In honor of these celebrations, today’s Theme of the Week Challenge is: Caring for our Environment (and the animals that live in it).

Let me share a personal observation. When I was a kid I grew up with Woodsy Owl—you know, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!” I learned the slogan, but never fully appreciated the campaign until I lived overseas. Here in Fiji beautiful beaches are tarnished with all kinds of trash. In fact there are unhealthy heaps of garbage left by the side of the road all the time and drivers are constantly tossing it out their windows without hesitation. In Russia the situation was similar. Every spring when the snow melted there were hundreds of old cigarette butts strewn across the sidewalks and grass. GROSS!!! I could go on, but the point is, I am so thankful that the United States started programs that teach kids (and remind adults) of their personal responsibility and stewardship to beautify and preserve our country. What a difference it makes.

For all of you who, like me, grew up with Woodsy, what are you teaching your children today? I hope you are teaching by example--but that's not enough. They need to understand why we have a duty to preserve the world. Then they need opportunities to transfer that knowledge into action. In other words, we should cultivate in them a desire to keep their world beautiful and safe; and then start them off on good habits to accomplish those desires while they are still young. My challenge to you this week is to brainstorm like crazy all the ways you can help the children in your life better understand their personal stewardship in caring for the Earth. Don’t worry; I have loads of ideas to get you started.

Ideas for Family Activities:
Organize a clean up project: a park, beach, mountainside, or neighborhood. Keep it just your family, or invite friends and neighbors to participate with you.
Make your own recycled paper.
Plant a Tree. Did you know that for $10 you can have a 6 month subscription to the Arbor Day Foundation and get TEN trees shipped to your house ready to plant? (Arbor Day Foundation)
Plant a Garden/ start a compost pile.
Make a bird feeder/bat box. Find out what you can do to help the endangered species in your area.
Designate an hour or a whole evening where you turn off all the electricity.
Field Trip to a Recycle Center.

Ideas for Family Goals:
Reduce—use less. Like buying things in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging that gets thrown away, buying locally grown food, using reusable grocery bags, or requesting paperless statements from your bank.
Reuse—use again, or repurpose. Like turning a tin can into a planter, trash into craft supplies, or a torn shirt into a rag.
Recycle—make into something new. Paper, plastic, glass, batteries, cell phones, ink cartridges, etc. This also includes buying those recycled products.
Conserve Electricity: turn off lights (assign your child to be the “Light Police” to help everyone remember to turn them off), unplug appliances when you leave, change your light bulbs to ones that use less energy, hang laundry to dry rather than using the dryer.
Conserve Water: turn off the faucet when you brush teeth, shorten shower length or take baths.
Conserve Gas: walk or ride bikes instead of driving, use public transport, carpool.

Earth Day Crafts:
Kaboose- Earth Day
Kaboose- Arbor Day
Enchanted Learning

Earth Day Interactive Websites:
Carly’s Corner
—Arbor Day Website
Recycle City
Planet Protectors- EPA
Environmental Kids Club- EPA
Calculate Your Ecological Footprint

Hopefully one or two or more of these ideas has gotten you excited about celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day. That’s great! Your enthusiasm will be felt and mirrored by your children. Take time this week to plan and figure out just what you and your family can accomplish. Please share any other ideas and websites to help other readers as they prepare. And once you have successfully finished your planned activities, tell us how it went!



NOTE: While learning about and appreciating nature definitely fits into this category, we are going to focus on how to take care of the environment this week. We’ll do nature appreciation as a theme all by itself in the future.


Erin said...

Wow Deneal, you are mighty impressive! I don't think you left anything out! We'll see what we can accomplish this week...

Jessie said...

YES! Good stuff. I'd just add: Start using non-toxic cleaners in your home. They've found that the air quality in our homes can be worse than outside, from all the harsh chemicals - many of which link to childhood cancers. So, I use non-toxic cleaners and vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, etc. now. Even my laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent are non-toxic these days. It helps the chemicals entering your kids' brains as well as the environment! A good book to start with is Deirdre Imus' "Greening your Cleaning". There's my little thought for the day!

Deneal said...

Love those suggestions Jessie. I read about it in a couple places, but didn't feel I knew enough about it. Maybe you can share your recipes for non-toxic cleaners. That would be great!