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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Earth-friendly Ideas for April 22

By Katy M. Clark

On April 22 my family celebrates Earth Day along with millions of families around the world. Started in 1970, Earth Day encourages us to appreciate the environment and become more aware of issues threatening it.

Here are 30 ideas that everyone from preschoolers to teenagers can use to reduce, reuse, and recycle this Earth Day. 

Little Ones

Teach kids to turn off the water when brushing their teeth.

Recycle! Have young ones place items such as paper and tin cans into dedicated recycling bins rather than the trash.

Transform trash into treasure. Preschoolers can create works of art reusing and repurposing bottles, yogurt cups, leftover fabric scraps and the like.

Demonstrate to little ones how to cool your house on hot days by pulling drapes closed instead of dialing down the air conditioning.

Likewise, bundle up in layers on cooler days rather than turning up the heat.

Model turning the lights off when leaving a room.

Have kids play with eco-friendly toys and games, like wooden puzzles dyed with non-toxic stains or balls that are BPA- and phthalate-free. 

Make bird feeders out of natural ingredients like pine cones and birdseed.

Engage them in planting a garden and growing vegetables your family can eat.

Get a houseplant or two and talk about how plants improve the air we breathe.

School-age Kids

Elementary school kids can help with shopping for recyclable products. Have them look for labels that say recycled content, pre-consumer and post-consumer. 

Kids can place small recycling bins in each bathroom in the house. Bonus points if you can get them to empty them each week into the curbside recycling bin!

Show them how to use reusable rags instead of paper towels to clean up messes.

Create a compost pile, on the kitchen counter or in your backyard. Kids can throw in egg shells, coffee grounds, and most food scraps and wait for them to turn into rich soil for use with plants outside and in.

Encourage them to sign up to pick up trash from community spaces like playgrounds, parks, or beaches.

Let kids make signs in every room of the house that remind family members to turn off the lights. 

Use reusable water bottles rather than single-use plastic bottles. 

Plant a tree at school or home.

Plant milkweed native to your area to help the monarch butterfly population. 

Tweens and Teens

Bigger kids will enjoy visiting thrift shops to nab pre-owned pieces that otherwise may have ended up in landfills.

Encourage them to use reusable bags when shopping.

Have them unplug electronics and chargers when not in use.

They can also turn off their desktop or gaming monitors when they aren’t using them.

Ask them to devise ways your house can collect rainwater for use on houseplants or flowers.

Turn off the lights when leaving the room. (You’ll probably still be working on this one with teens even though you’ve been preaching it since they were little!)

Recycle old cell phones. Make sure to take out SIM cards and erase the phones first, usually with a factory reset. Teens may also need to remove the battery and research how and where the battery can be recycled.

Use a timer to conserve water during showers.

Remove makeup with cleanser and reusable wipes instead of disposable wipes.

Host or volunteer at an e-waste collection event. 

Katy M. Clark is a writer who embraces her maternal imperfections at