Twenty million Americans took to streets, parks and auditoriums on April 22, 1970, in an effort to ensure our planet's heath and sustainability. The day marked a rare moment of political alignment as Republicans and Democrats stood together in defense of our environment. On April 22, 2016, the 46th year of this important day will be celebrated.
Earth Day 2016 has been named Trees for the Earth. Over the next five years, Earth Day supporters hope 7.8 billion trees will be planted. Trees help combat climate change, provide cleaner air and help our communities.
In addition to being part of the Trees for the Earth initiative, you and your family could support Earth Day 2016 in a multitude of ways.
Eat Less Meat
Nearly one fifth of the world's man-made greenhouse emissions are generated by the meat industry. You don't need to become a vegetarian to make a difference. Try serving "Meatless Monday" dinners. You and your kids could have fun creating "green" Monday meals.
Each year, more than a million pounds of food are thrown away. Composting allows you to turn your food waste into soil. Start small and learn the composting ropes; soon, the process will become second nature. Engaging children in this activity creates a whole new generation of composters—and show me a kid who doesn't like playing in the dirt!
Stop Using Disposable Plastic
Approximately 10 percent of disposable plastic products are properly recycled each year. Taking the pledge to stop using disposable plastic will help lessen the plastic bottles, bags and packages that litter our landfills and our environment.
Reduce Your Footprint
Over the past few decades, we have consumed more resources annually than the Earth can replenish. Reducing this unsustainable behavior will help improve our planet and the living conditions of future generations.
Buy Local Produce
Purchasing local produce can help reduce your carbon footprint—and local produce could be more nutritious.
End Junk Mail
Yearly, more than 100 million trees are cut down to produce junk mail. Help lessen this amount by removing your name from unnecessary or uninteresting mailing lists.
Teach the Children Well
When children grasp the importance of Earth Day, the day's true intent is realized. Here are some fun, engaging ideas to try with your kids on Earth Day 2016.
- Make a nature collage or paint rocks. This activity will show your children that art products aren't always purchased at a store and wrapped in plastic.
- Make a "children's garden." Your kids will be so excited—and proud—when their vegetables begin to sprout.
- Make a creation station corner in your house. Kids can use recyclable products to make art—and when they're done playing with their masterpieces, they can go back into the recycle bin.
- Make a rain barrel.
- Go door-to-door collecting cans, and donate the proceeds to your children's school or a local charity.
Earth Day is not a one-day-only event. Let's be kind to our planet, every day.
Written by Lisa Stickler, West Michigan Woman magazine staff writer.