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8 simple ways kids can help the planet on Earth Day (and beyond)

Earth Day is approaching soon. So what are some ways kids can help save the planet? Well, teaching environmental awareness doesn’t happen overnight. However, you can help your children to develop some good habits to take care of their home and the world around them — no matter where they go. For easy-to-follow ideas and Earth Day tips for kids, read on. You might be surprised at how many of these practices your family might already be doing.

Use a reusable water container

Cutting down on the usage of disposable, plastic containers keeps landfills from piling up too quickly. Plus, there is a large amount of nonrenewable resources that goes into manufacturing water bottles. The solution is to cut down on the usage of plastic starting with a reusable water container. Your children would love to pick out their own bottle to take to school or for outings, but what would really build up their enthusiasm is if they received a bottle that they can decorate and personalize.

Child recycling paper into crafts
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Recycle or upcycle paper

Other ways kids can help save the planet is by recycling paper when possible. For kids, this might consist mostly of school-related papers or flyers that they bring home. These can be used for notes, crafts, or just to doodle on.

Another fun idea for recycling or repurposing paper applies to the comics that are found in the newspapers or old comic books. These items can be recycled for collages and art projects or even as wrapping paper. Even if you’re not subscribing to the hard-copy form of a periodical, your kids can help by collecting these items from relatives who still prefer this form. When finished, they can also take the papers to the recycle bin.

Turn off the lights

How much electricity (not to mention money) can you save in one month just by turning off the lights when you leave the room? Kids can easily get in on this power-saving effort as well, especially if there’s a small step stool close by for the littles who can’t yet reach. A bonus activity is to create a small colorful sign that reminds a person to flip the switch.

Unplug chargers to save electricity

In addition to turning off the lights, you and your children can remind each other to unplug all chargers when devices are ready to go. When streaming a movie or working on a laptop, keeping the device plugged in is quite tempting. However, this not only causes wear and tear on the battery, it also uses more electricity than necessary.

Dad and daughter washing hands

Turn off the water

Along with giving the power grid a slight rest, you can enlist your kids’ help with conserving water. You and the family can brainstorm several ways to cut down on water usage such as:

  • Turning off the faucet while brushing
  • Taking shorter showers
  • Watering outdoor plants in the early morning or evening hours
  • Getting their input on a xeriscape yard

Plus, you’d be surprised at the decrease in your utility bill.

Donate toys and clothes

Additional Earth Day tips for kids include cleaning out the closets, drawers, and toy boxes. For families with multiple children, passing on clothing from the oldest to the next child is quite common. Depending on the ages of your children, they can take charge of their own clothing exchange by setting out the pieces that don’t fit. Anything else that’s gently used can be donated to local charities or sold at a yard sale.

The same goes for any toys that your child hasn’t played with in months. Aside from yard sales, another great idea for these articles is to donate them to local charities or even to day care centers and afterschool programs. For the toys that have missing or broken parts, you might be able to find a STEM camp, like Camp Invention, that will take these types of donations for one of its “upcycle” or repurposing modules.

Help recycle cans and plastic

Once in a while, you might have an occasional gathering or situation that calls for separate, disposable drink containers, but no worries. Out of all the ways kids can help save the planet, recycling plastic and aluminum cans is one of the easiest, especially if you live in a city that already has a drop-off or pick-up program in place. However, if you don’t already, you and your kids can select some bins and either color-code or make illustrated signs to designate which item goes in which container.

Try fun plant-based meals

Finally, kids can help save the planet by partaking more in plant-based meals and snacks. Families can help lessen the strain on the environment by opting for more whole foods and leaving behind the processed stuff.

With this in mind, kids can pick out their favorite fruits and veggies and even create fun snacks with a variety of combinations.

Instilling good habits in your kids when it comes to sustainability is important. As your children get more excited about taking care of Earth, they might even come up with more ideas of their own. From there, they will build their own habits for decreasing their carbon footprint and can spread the word to their peers. For now, you have some tips to start with that will make a difference.

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Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
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