Impressing on children the importance of environmental stewardship is best done as a family initiative, with everyone in the home taking part and working together to make a difference.
Giving your family and your home an eco-makeover can be a fun and empowering experience for everyone involved! Here are Earth Rangers’ top three family activities to green your home.
Start a Family Phantom Power Patrol
Most of us do an excellent job of making sure our household appliances are turned off when they aren’t being used. But some of these devices continue to draw power even when switched off. This energy wastage is sometimes called “phantom power”, and the cost, both to the environment and your wallet, can be staggering.
Luckily, stopping phantom power can be as easy as pulling a plug, and your whole family can help out! Move through each room of your home and play ‘Spot the Phantom’ with your kids. Together, you can make a list of devices that probably draw energy while in standby mode then have a nightly power patrol to unplug these items. Common phantom power offenders include anything that can be controlled by a remote, or items with digital clocks, also keep an eye out for chargers of portable devices such as mobile phones, handheld gaming systems or e-readers. To track your progress look at your monthly hydro bill—some estimates state that phantom power can account for as much as 10% of an average household’s energy usage!
Make Your Home a Junk Mail Free Zone
Junk mail is, for of most us, little more than a nuisance that takes up valuable real estate in the mailbox. But the amount of energy and resources consumed in making and distributing junk mail poses a much larger environmental problem.
Help your children make a “No Junk Mail” sign for your mailbox, perhaps even using bits of scrap paper for this craft project. You can even take your anti-junk mail campaign one step further by adding your family to the Canadian Marketing Association’s “Do Not Contact Service”—which will remove your address from many marketing companies’ mailing lists, stopping them from sending junk mail to your address. If you are worried about missing the sales at your local store just check online, most retailers have electronic versions of their weekly flyers available on their website.
Turn Your Backyard into a Habitat Haven
Creating a local wildflower or vegetable garden with your family can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Start with a simple garden of a manageable size, with just a few varieties of fast-growing plants. If space is at a premium in your home, try container gardening to give new life to a balcony or windowsill. Seeds from native wildflowers can be collected during a nature walk to create a butterfly garden, or grow some of your own vegetables to have the freshest, most local produce possible on your table!
As the garden grows, you and your children may notice some visitors taking advantage of the new habitat you’ve built for them, like earthworms, ladybugs and butterflies. Different varieties of birds may be encouraged to stopover in your yard by planting native berry and seed producing plants, or by simply hanging a birdfeeder nearby. You can even help your children create a humble home for local toads by flipping a plastic plant pot upside down, cutting a notch in the rim for a door and placing it in a shady, secluded spot amongst the garden plants.
These projects are just a few ideas to get your kids involved in environmental awareness and stewardship, for more inspiration visit the Wild Wire kids blog.
This guest post has been provided by Earth Rangers, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate children about the importance of biodiversity and empower them to protect animals and their habitats. To learn more, visit EarthRangers.com.