Plant It For The Planet
Earth Day, first observed in 1970, takes place on April 22 of each year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 22 million people across the nation joined forces that first Earth Day to advocate for better stewardship of natural resources. The EPA, along with the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, trace their roots to that day.
Over the decades, the event has evolved into a global celebration of nature, with people across the world discussing ways to “go green” and highlighting the continued need to improve environmental protections. April is now even commonly dubbed “Earth Month,” giving this important topic a full 30-days of attention.
There is another green, and related, holiday tucked into this month: National Arbor Day, the fourth Friday of April. It is meant to encourage the planting of and caring for trees. On the first Arbor Day, which took place in Nebraska in 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. By 1920 every state in the country officially recognized the holiday.
Maybe you try to be green all year round, or maybe these April occasions serve as an “Oh, I meant to do that,” reminder. Either way, the reality is while it can be challenging to maintain a green lifestyle, it is ok to begin by doing small tasks on a daily basis. Given enough time, eventually these small tasks build into a routine that becomes natural and expands into new eco-friendly activities.
I am constantly trying to create activities and crafts for my family that have a low impact on the earth, repurposing found objects, connecting with the outdoors, cooking from whole foods. I then share these projects on my blog, Green Owl Crafts (greenowlcrafts.com), using lots of pictures and detailed instructions so anybody can give them a try.
We are not the ‘greenest’ family, but we do things everyday that help reduce our carbon footprint: recycling, being conscious of energy and water use and reusing as many things as possible. No matter where you fall on that scale, you can let Earth Month inspire you to make small changes in your everyday life, and even in your community, that have a positive impact on the world around you.
Try to be even just a little greener this April. Or, even better, make every day Earth Day! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Plant a Tree Planting a tree is a great way to celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day. It’s more than just beautifying an area. Trees are beneficial to the environment in numerous ways. They help produce oxygen and filter out pollutants to clean the air. In addition, trees help prevent erosion and preserve water levels in the soil. If you have the space, add a tree to your yard. Or visit arborday.org/celebrate for nearby tree planting events.
For your home, fruit and shade trees are a good choice. In the first instance, there’s the bonus of enjoying fruit eventually, and as a result providing food for the family, neighbors and friends. Shade trees planted in the right location can help keep a home cool and reduce energy costs.
Start a Garden A garden doesn’t have to be a complex undertaking and it is a great way for families to spend time together. A vegetable garden enables you to enjoy foods that are grown from your own two hands, cutting out the middleman and reducing the carbon footprint made by delivery trucks and trips to grocery stores. Even people who live in apartments can start a small garden on their patios using recycled barrels, containers or window boxes. For those with no outdoor space, many herbs can be grown indoors as well.
Project: Seed-Starting Trays Teach children that garbage does not simply disappear by finding ways to reuse packaging such as plastic milk jugs. By repurposing these, we can reduce waste, create useful items and save money. All while spending quality time with the kids. This project allows you to enhance your green thumb by reusing items destined for your recycling bin.
Materials: Milk Jugs or 2-Liter Bottles (rinsed well) Utility Knife Scissors Potting Soil Seeds
- For a perfect seed-starting flat, use the bottom portion of a milk jug.
- Begin by washing the container to remove milk residue.
- Next, measure three inches up from the bottom; then carefully cut off the bottom portion with a utility knife.
- Take the bottom portion and poke 3-4 drainage holes by cutting small slits.
- Children can fill the jug bottom with soil and plant the seeds according to the package.
- Place the seed starting tray on top of another jug bottom, without drainage holes, to capture water runoff.
- After planting, water seeds well and put them in a sunny area. To keep moisture in, simply set the top of the jug back over the planted seeds, creating a terrarium.
Amanda Causey Baity, Prince William Living’s marketing director and photo editor, lives in Montclair with her family. She also blogs about thrifty family activities and recipes on her blog GreenOwlCrafts.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in the April issue of Prince William Living