It's never too late to plan fun and meaningful, Earth-friendly activities with your family. Below are a few suggestions, as well as some local events in the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia area.
1. Go car-free.
According to the National Personal Transportation Survey, approximately 40 percent of all car trips are less than 2 miles. Reducing your family's travel in vehicles for simple and near-by destinations would help reduce your carbon footprint. Consider walking or biking with your family for these trips or decide to go car-free for a day. You might find that you really like it! Talk to your kids about how using alternative forms of transportation help the environment while promoting good health. My family is fortunate that we live in downtown Bethlehem and make it a point to walk to parks, restaurants, festivals, and outdoor events in our area instead of driving. It's nice family time spent together, and we also are helping the environment.
2. Start composting.
Whether you start an indoor vermicompost bin or decide to do outdoor composting, you will be teaching your children about reducing waste and recycling. Plus, you'll produce fabulous, natural fertilizer for your yard and garden.
3. Unplug for the day.
Make a pact as a family to unplug for the day. Spend a day together outdoors without gadgets, cell phones, televisions, or other electronics. Not only will you be reducing the electricity that you use but you will be spending quality time together as a family and getting outdoors for fresh air and exercise. The first time we talked about doing this, there were a few moans and groans from my 8-year-old, but it turned out that we all had a great time. Trust me: it's worth it!
4. Reduce use of plastics.
Talk to your kids about reducing your family's use of plastic. If you are a family who buys bottled water, consider using canteens instead. You can fill up your own water bottles, and you'll save money while eliminating unnecessary waste. And whether you are headed to the local farmer's market, grocery store, or other places to purchase items, remind eachother to take reusable bags with you so that you don't need to bring home more plastic.
5. Choose your food wisely.
By eating fresh, local, organic, and unprocessed foods you are supporting your local economy, reducing waste, supporting sustainable practices, and helping to reduce greenhouse gases. These are all valuable lessons to teach your kids and are just some of the ways that improving the environment is impacted by our food choices. Shopping for food locally and cooking together can be made a fun family affair that kids of every age can be involved in.
6. Attend a local Earth Day or Arbor Day event in your area.
Almost every community holds events to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day. Below I have listed just a few from Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, and surrounding areas.
Camden Children's Garden Earth Day and Arbor Day Celebration on April 26, 2014
Jim Thorpe Earth Day Celebration on April 26, 2014
Earth Day Celebration on April 26, 2014 at the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Del.
Have a family brainstorming session about ways to help make our planet healthier. Kids today have learned from a very young age all about helping to protect the Earth. They are taught to be mindful of the environment in a variety of places, from daycares to schools to places of worship to their extracurricular activities. You may be surprised by the ideas your children come up with! Try sitting down as a family and writing down all of the ways that you can celebrate Earth Day and help to keep our Earth as healthy as possible.
Guest blogger Heather Manning lives in Bethlehem, Pa. with her partner and their sons, Lucas and Miles. Together they hike, paddle, run, swim, visit farms, and attend festivals throughout the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley area. A version of this blog originally appeared on Kids Outdoors Philadelphia, a free online community from the Appalachian Mountain Club.