Next Saturday, June 5, 2021, is World Environment Day. It also happens to be National Trails Day. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate these days than to take a HIKE! Being outdoors, enjoying nature, and looking for wildlife help us appreciate what an amazing world we live in. It can also inspire us to do more.
World Environment Day was designated to reaffirm governments’ and organizations’ commitment to preservation of the environment. It is also a day to raise awareness.
National Trails Day is a day to commit to caring for trails so everyone can enjoy them. As you walk take time not only to enjoy being out, but try to leave the trail better than you found it by bringing along a bag to collect trash in. This day of celebration is also a day to commit to trail service this year. Click on the link above to learn about events near you and simple actions you can take.
Remember, helping the planet doesn’t mean you have to take grand action. As you hike, soak it in. Enjoy. Be inspired. And consider what you can do to help locally because it’s #YourPlanetToo
This is an easy one to get into the habit of doing. Not a back flip (or even a front flip) but remembering to FLIP the switch! You’ve probably heard this a zillion times…turn off the lights. But not just the lights. When not in use, turn off devices, televisions, radios, or anything that requires energy. Bug your siblings and adults about it too.
You could even do an energy challenge with some kind of reward at the end (ice cream, anyone?). Many utility companies provide you with your household energy use details by month. If not, grab an adult and find the energy meter where you live to gather data. Either way, get a baseline of your household energy use in one month. Then, see how much you can reduce your household energy use. Maybe even set a goal – can you reduce your energy use by 5%? 10%? More? This challenge is most accurate if you compare your energy use of one month last year and the same month this year. That’s because households generally less energy in June than in December because June is warmer.
Photo by Raul Varzar
There’s another reason to turn off the lights – wildlife. Turning off both inside AND outside lights at night is helpful for animals. Migrating birds, sea turtles, insects, and more are all impacted by too much light. In fact it has a name: light pollution. The lights disorient animals. They disrupt the rhythms and patterns of natural light and dark. They affect predator-prey interactions. And much, much more. Get more information from the International Dark Sky Organization. Watch the documentary Saving the Dark to learn more. And FLIP those switches because it’s…
Do you use a napkin when you eat? Your whole family probably does. In the cafeteria at lunch time, are people using napkins? Most likely. Think about what happens to those napkins at the end of the meal. If they are made of paper, they probably go right into the trash or compost. If you had cloth napkins, though, they could be washed and reused. I’m not talking about fancy schmancy napkins. CUT your own! It’s east to cut cotton fabric into squares. Then, voila! Napkins!
Ask an adult to take you to a fabric store to buy some fabric. There’s often even a bin of remnants, which could be cheaper (but remind your adult that if you buy and use this fabric, they won’t have to spend money on paper napkins anymore!). Some towns also have recycled craft stores that might have fabric. At home, wash the material. Then decide what size napkins you want. Six inches by six inches? Larger? Smaller? Once the napkins are cut, use them at every meal. When they’re dirty, toss ‘em in with the rest of the laundry!
Math time – if you have a family of 5 and you eat dinner together at least 6 days a week, how many paper napkins do you save in week? In a month? In a year? Can you convince your cousins to do this too? It’s an easy way to help and tell them, it’s…
You have probably heard a lot about greenhouse gasses. These gasses trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Like a greenhouse, these gasses allow sunlight in, but the heat produced by the sun cannot escape. Some greenhouse gasses are good because without them our planet would be too cold for life to exist.
But, the concern today is that we are releasing too many greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, like carbon dioxide (CO2). Greenhouse gas emissions occur when we burn fossil fuels, like oil, coal, and natural gas. This is the cause of global warming and changing climate patterns.
So how can you reduce greenhouse gas emissions? WALK! It’s good for you and it’s good for the planet.* Many schools across the country have walk-to-school days. Can you make more days walk-to-school days? If you investigate and find a safe route to school, the miles add up. Let’s say you and a friend pledge to walk to school one day a week for the whole school year. If you live a mile from school, and there are 36 weeks in the school year, you’ve saved 72 miles of driving (because you save a mile going to school and returning home). What happens if you walk two days a week? Five? Now calculate how many car miles would be saved if you convinced 3 other friends to join you. A lot of what we do in our daily lives is about creating habits. Consider whether you can commit to walking regularly because it’s #YourPlanetToo.
*Every gallon of gas burned by the average passenger car releases more than 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.
One simple thing that everyone can do is CARRY a reusable water bottle. Do you already do that? Congrats! If you don’t, are you wondering why you should? Because carrying a reusable water bottle eliminates the use of bottled water or juice, which is usually sold in plastic. Not only that, those bottles are used only one time and discarded.
Let’s say you’re on a sports team and there are 12 players, and no one brings their own water bottle. Instead, an adult provides bottled water or a sports drink for everyone. That’s very kind, but that’s also 12 bottles going into the trash or recycling (assuming they are properly disposed of). Doesn’t seem like such a big deal, does it?
But, maybe you have 10 games per season. So, if everyone on the team brings their own water bottle instead of drinking bottled waters all season, that is now 120 bottles saved. How many teams are in your league in your town? Multiply 120 by that number. See? The number is growing. And the amount of waste is decreasing.
What if everyone in the state did that? It may seem like such a small thing, but it can make a big difference, especially if you get your teammates, classmates, friends, and family to join you. And, remember, it’s…