Earth Day the Nanny Way

Redwood Forest. Photo courtesy Jennifer Kuhn. by kelly knowlton

In 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a bill to designate every April 22 as Earth Day. It is important that we have a day to remind us all that our actions, activities, and habits affect the beautiful planet we call home. Earth Day activities across the United States and over 174 other countries remind us how greenhouse gases, oil spills, global warming, and lack of space are changing the planet we live on and the quality of our lives. Nannies and parents can pitch in to help our charges and children learn what this day is about while making some positive changes in our environment too.

Recycle.

The simple act of recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills or pushed through incinerators. Recycling goes beyond the standard plastic, glass, paper, and cardboard we tend to think of. We can recycle wood, metal, furniture, and clothes all by simply repurposing and consigning. One activity that can be done with our charges is to make paper out of the fliers and extra newspapers we may have lying around. If you search for paper-making projects on the Internet, you will have thousands of ideas at your fingertips. I especially love the ideas over at The Daily Green. Check them out for inspiration.

Use Reusable Containers.

Not only are many reusable containers adorable, customizable, and trendy, they are also fantastic for the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 54.2% of the stuff we throw away just sits in a landfill. Plastic baggies, snack wrappers, and juice boxes comprise part of that 54.2% of waste. There are reusable snack bags, reusable baby food pouches, water bottles, lunch sacks, and many more creative ideas readily available to help us decrease the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. There are water bottles that come with a removable inside that our charges can decorate. My two young sons absolutely love this because they know which water bottle is theirs, eliminating some potential minor conflicts, and making it easier to find at the playground.

Conserve Water.

This is a simple idea that most of us probably already do. By turning the water off while brushing our teeth and washing the dishes we can save a lot of water. I am reminding my boys every day to turn off the water and not waste it. If we have to water our lawn, we do it at night so the water has a chance to absorb into the ground before the sun dries it all up. At our house, I am recruiting my boys to help set up a rain barrel to show them that we can collect rainwater to water our garden. There are many websites available to help make the rain barrels. Check out Mother Earth Living’s tips.

Use Safer Cleaning Products.

Since cleaning products are washed down the drains and end up in either water treatment plants or septic systems, it is important to know what goes into these products. Many of the harsh chemicals in common household cleaners wreak havoc on our ground water supply, therefore impacting our produce we eat, the grass we play in, and just about everything else that grows. The EPA has created a safer product labeling program. If you see a Designed for the Environment (DfE) label on products, that means it’s safe. The EPA only places these labels on products that do not sacrifice quality and performance, and pose the least amount of concern for after affects to both the environment and people. My boys love to help me clean, and I have started using basic homemade recipes to make my own safer cleaning products. It also cuts down on packaging, shipping costs, and emissions into the air. Plus, I get peace of mind because I know that vinegar and baking soda are not going to cause enormous amounts of harm if it touches their skin.

Walk.

This implies exactly that. Put the keys away, grab a reusable water bottle and stroller (if need be), and walk. Not only is walking great for the body, it also reduces emissions and makes our air cleaner. I know my boys feel much better after a walk, and it also helps us all out on a crazy hectic day. Those that live in the suburbs may not be able to walk as much, but that is alright. Every little bit helps our environment improve.

There are plenty more ideas to help celebrate Earth Day and to do our part in making the planet better for future generations. It is also great to involve our future generations as much as we can, fostering a love and appreciation for the world we live in. Enjoy the day. What ideas do you have to make this world a cleaner place for our children and charges?