Reconnect with your family and the environment and stay healthy with these easy tips. Remember! Not yet set in their ways, kids are amenable to lifestyle changes, especially if you make it fun for them. Here are some green family activities:
Ride your bike together. Pick one day a week where you and the kid(s) ride to your destination or simply see how many miles you can go. Make a game out of the distance and chart it. Kids love to see “who can win” or claim “who went the farthest.”
Read and Explore
Read books about the environment that share the message of taking care of your space. Pick a great spot under a tree, plop down and enjoy. Two good reads to start: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
Pack a lunch and walk outside to your backyard or walk to the park. Either way, you sit outside enjoy the fresh air. There is nothing better than eating outside. Why do you think the outside tables at restaurants are always taken? Create your own “restaurant” and enjoy the open sky.
Get some exercise and explore. State parks all over the country offer free trails to hike and tons of acres to explore. Add a little more fun and include a scavenger hunt on the hike. Kids love to play “I spy” no matter what the location!
Do you remember seeing your first shooting star? Or how about actually seeing the big dipper for the first time? Watch the stars from your own backyard. Play a game and learn the constellations at the same time. Many local newspapers often publish a regional “sky watch” to use as a guide. If you live in an apartment, visit a local planetarium or observatory.
Children love to get dirty as much as they like to see things grow. Voila! A garden is a great way to achieve both. First, plan what will be in your garden and try to include a little of everything that everyone likes—flowers, vegetables and herbs. Then decide on the size. Next, assign responsibilities—who will water, weed, etc. ? What is the schedule of activities? Not only will this invite more team work into your family, but everyone will benefit from the future harvest. Should you not have a big backyard or a backyard at all, start small. Fun still can exist in planting flowers, herbs and small vegetables in containers on your patio or porch or even on your kitchen window sill. Small gardens are just as great!
Pick Your Own Fruits and Vegetables
Get your fruit from the source and have fun doing it. No matter the kid (big or small) almost everyone loves strawberries, blueberries or any berry for that matter. Even better is the fact you pick your own and then get to enjoy. This is a great seasonal activity. Need to know where to go and when? Visit www.pickyourown.org to find your state and location.
Off To the Market --- The Farmer's Market
Skip the grocery store and visit your farmer’s market as a family once a week or even once a month. Let your child pick out their favorite fruit or vegetable in season. When you get home, grab your favorite find, wash it and enjoy in the backyard. While your child feels great about their selection, everyone will feel better knowing that you kept it local. Buying goods produced nearby keeps money in your community. Further, you are getting the freshest produce as most is shipped from outside of the country and travels up to two weeks before arriving in grocery stores. To find farmer’s markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown foods, visit www.localharvest.com and www.sustainabletable.org.
Walk Once a Week (W.O.W.)
It is simple. Walk Once a Week. (W.O.W.) Walk to school, walk to the store, walk to your mailbox, walk the dog. You get the picture. Make it game--- who W.O.W.’s first. Walk as a family. If your child is old enough, allow he/she to walk to school if it’s safe. Walk to the movie store. You save money on gas, avoid emitting more CO2 in the environment and you get exercise. This is a no brainer and a win-win situation all around.
Sunny Day Rule
Very simply the day you are all home together and the sun is shining, being outside is the rule of the day. Ride your bikes, play tag, dig in the dirt, play ball……but no sitting on the sofa. There are enough days where rain visits and forces us inside. Besides getting your exercise, breathing fresh air, and having fun, you are saving electricity.
Get Ice Cream
When you go to an ice cream store, get a cone not a cup. Save that paper or plastic. American’s throw away enough paper each year to build a 12 foot high wall stretching from New York to California. Besides, the cone tastes better. Make the situation twice as good and walk or bike to your ice cream store. Get exercise going to get the sweets and work it off on your way back home.
It is never to early in a child’s life to introduce nature clean-ups. Pick your favorite spots—trails, beaches, parks—and invite your kids to join you in doing something positive for the environment and community. As if instilling the value of taking care of your space isn’t enough, learning about garbage and waste certainly is equally as important. According to Keep America Beautiful, American’s generate 251.3 million tons of garbage per year. Since 1960, the amount of waste generated in America has nearly tripled. This exercise in clean up with your family will deliver the message of excessive waste and the importance of keeping our space clean.
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