By Paul Antolini
Love begins in the home and so does the love for our earth. If you teach your children to respect the earth on every level, they will continue to realize the global impact of environmentalism when they become adults. This is important for the sustainability of life as we know it.
Perhaps we can set off that spark in a child, making them want to learn more about the process and do more to help. If we've done our part, they might strive to become an environmentalist — professionally or at heart.
Inspire children, plant the seeds early on, and they will flourish. We all strive to do "acts of kindness" for our neighbors, to cement better relations locally or worldwide — but perhaps we also need to do "acts of environmental kindness" too, to save our planet.
Begin with little things. Easy things. Obvious things. Things we take for granted each day, and use or abuse because of our lack of knowledge. Let's start there. Remember that children learn from what we do.
There are some wonderful family activities you can do together while learning about the environment. Make a "to do" list and make it fun! Do as many hands-on projects as you can each day to help save the earth in little ways. Have the children keep a chart or journal about everything they do. Here are some suggestions:
Indoors: Read books, magazines, websites and newspapers and learn more about the earth. Conserve energy and save water by letting children find (and a parent fix) dripping faucets; only running the dishwasher when full; taking short showers; turning the water off while brushing your teeth; turning off electrical items when not in use; doing full loads of laundry only. Recycle cans, bottles and newspapers.
Outdoors: Plant a tree. Plant a garden. Clean up roadside litter. Create a habitat by putting up a birdhouse. Build a compost for food scraps, leaves and lawn clippings. Save rainwater and reuse for outdoor gardens.
At School: Urge teachers and administrators to do activities for Earth Day and every day. Suggest ideas for projects: write poetry; create environmentally-themed music; have an environmental poster contest. Check to see which sources of electricity you can conserve in your school (electric pencil sharpener, lights on in rooms not used, etc.) and keep a chart about how many ways you saved energy.
At Work: Make a company resolutions list. Conserve paper and electricity. Close shades in the summer to prevent high heat in offices. Don't use air conditioning all the time. Recycle cans, bottles and newspapers at the office.
While Traveling: Visit parks and nature centers. Visit a maritime museum. While on a drive, have children count how many things might be polluting the air, land or water, and then research if anything is being done to correct the problem.
For Pets: Organize a dog park cleanup. Take a hike on a dog-friendly trail. Use natural flea control. Buy organic pet food. Avoid plastic and synthetic toys and dog beds, and use natural fiber products. Scoop up the poop, compost it, or use biodegradable poop bags if you live in the city. Adopt a pet from a shelter. Spay or neuter your pet.
Join a Group: Join organizations that help save endangered animals. Adopt an endangered species online.
Community Service: Volunteer your time in any way that will improve the environment. Does your community have a nature center? Maybe you can volunteer there.