As the crocuses and daffodils are popping up through the soil, and the chorus of songbirds is ascending into our backyards, we are reminded of the excitement of spring.
Spring is a time of new beginnings and renewed purpose. It’s also a time to celebrate the planet we call home. As you may know, April is Earth Month—a time to raise awareness about our environmental impact and take action to care for the planet.
How did Earth Month begin?
Earth Month first began over 50 years ago in Fredonia, New York. It was founded by a junior high school student named Brad Follett who was inspired by a local creek-cleanup project. While many individuals and cultures throughout history have worked to preserve the planet, we have Brad to thank for Earth Month specifically. It was first officially celebrated on April 4, 1970, and we have continued to honor our planet every April since.
How can my family make a difference this month?
No matter who you are, or where you are, you have the power to help care for our planet.
We hope that this list may inspire you to take care of our Earth in ways that align with your interests and passions. All of the suggestions on this list are opportunities to teach your kids about the importance (and satisfaction) of caring for the Earth.
1. Choose sustainable household products
As consumers, we make purchases every day that affect the world around us.
Help to reduce your waste and environmental impact by taking a step this April to research a product you use and swap it out for something more environmentally friendly.
Here are some suggestions to help get you started:
- Use paper towels every day? Consider switching to washable ones.
- Pack single-use plastic bags for your kids' lunches? Invest in dishwasher-friendly, reusable lunch bags instead.
- Use dryer sheets with every load? Consider buying dryer balls, which can be reused for years and preserve your clothes longer.
- Switch your plastic water bottle out for a reusable one. Tens of millions of single-use plastic water bottles end up in landfills every day. Think about how many water bottles you could keep out of the environment by making the switch!
- When it comes to personal care, such as hygienic items and cosmetics, consider supporting companies that produce earth-friendly hygiene products with sustainable packaging. The product will be better for your health and for the environment.
Being mindful of the products we use daily can make a big difference in the waste we produce and the impact we have on our environment.
2. Shop secondhand
Going through your closet, and doing some spring purging? Have the kids outgrown all of their clothes again?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 60% of all unwanted clothes and textiles end up in a landfill. It’s estimated that textiles take up 5% of landfill space, which equals to tons of textiles entering our landfills yearly. Worldwide, every second, one garbage truck’s worth of textiles is sent to landfills or burned.
In some areas (including Massachusetts), waste disposal bans have been enacted on textiles. This is a great step forward to preserving our planet.
You can practice responsible recycling by donating worn clothes to a textile recycling program in your area or give your well-kept clothes new life by consigning with a consignment store (like Merry Go Rounds!) or donating them to a thrift store.
Additionally, manufacturing new clothes depletes natural resources and adds chemicals to our environment. By shopping resale, we remove ourselves from contributing to the environmentally harmful manufacturing processes.
Try to shop #SecondhandFirst and only buy new for the pieces you can’t find used. You’ll be amazed at how much of your and your kids’ wardrobes can be filled with quality secondhand items!
3. Support local cleanup efforts
Keeping the Earth clean is everyone’s job, and it can be a fun way to get outdoors and get involved!
The next time you take your kids on a walk, bring a bag along with you and create a game of who can collect the most trash. Afterwards, discard the items appropriately, showing them what can be recycled and what can't.
Volunteer for a local community cleanup day. Many towns do collaborative cleanup days during the month of April. For our local readers, check out Keep Easton Beautiful to get involved in our town's yearly efforts to keep our community clean.
4. Implement sustainable landscaping
Help to offset your environmental impact by supporting local habitats. Even something as simple as planting a tree can greatly benefit natural wildlife.
Consider planting native plants, and pollinator-friendly plants such as milkweed and zinnias, to help benefit the pollinators in your area. Planting a garden can be a fun and educational activity for your children to be involved in, too.
Whenever possible, avoid using pesticides and harmful chemicals in your yard, and instead consider a more natural approach when it comes to managing your landscape. Many households, especially those in areas with water shortages, are moving away from conventional grass lawns towards landscapes that are more suitable for, and aligned with, their local climate and environment.
Composting food scraps is another way to help reduce waste. It also has the added benefit of helping to provide nourishment for your garden.
5. Take part in e-recycling
Don’t know what to do with that old television from the 80s? Still have your first Blackberry?
Old electronics are a difficult item to contend with. Responsibly recycling our e-waste is an important step in taking care of our planet. Most towns offer biannual or yearly electronic recycling. Look into e-recycling programs in your area.
From one Earth caretaker to another, Happy Earth Month!