Earth Day Lessons All Year Long by Dina Ramon

Respect for our Earth is something we all want our kids to possess and this week’s national Earth Day is always a wonderful opportunity to encourage that. Schools and community organizations typically host a variety of activities to involve kids like outdoor gardens, rallies, and games which are all great ways to mark the day. But when Earth Day celebrations are over there are plenty of everyday routines where moms, dads, grandparents and other guardians can carry on the best lessons of Earth Day that our kids will observe and take on as their own. I know from experience that even suggesting to my daughter little ways that we can save energy, water, and materials encourages her to think that way. And by no means can I take all the credit. She has learned a lot about conservation and recycling in school; I just do my best to reinforce those lessons as often as I can. In fact, there are oftentimes when she shows me how we should be ‘green’ and ‘Earth-friendly.’ The great thing is that by training ourselves to change our own habits, our kids will pick up on that and do the same. Of course, the use of recyclable bags is a popular way for all of us to be ‘green.’ Our school’s PTA tried out the sale of bright, stylish, and handy reusable bags for their spring fundraiser; they were a big hit, and should generate incentive to reuse. We also just had the shower heads and toilets in our home upgraded to more water-efficient models, a great, firsthand example for my daughter of how to conserve water. A pet peeve of mine is doing unnecessary loads of laundry. I implore my daughter not to put ‘once worn’ clothing (except for underwear of course, or something with a huge stain) in the hamper because it’s probably not dirty enough to merit the washing machine; ‘let’s not waste water or soap if we don’t have to.’ I’m also happy to report that my daughter has gotten into the habit of reusing paper, plastic bags, and even making ‘toys’ and ‘accessories’ for her doll and stuffed animals out of materials that she already has. So no doubt it takes effort to keep up new habits and seize new opportunities to reinforce Earth Day teachings but our kids will embrace them and set their own examples.

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