Spring and Earth Day are upon us, and present a perfect opportunity to get together as a family and go green.
From small projects around the house, to outside fun, here are three easy ways to make your family a little more eco-friendly, and have fun in the process. Here are three ways to go green with your kids (that they’ll actually like).
Kids love getting their fingers in the dirt. A great way to get kids out in the garden and doing good for the planet is by identifying native plants and incorporating them into your yard. Native plants help attract butterflies, deer and birds, and they’re often colorful and hardy, because they’re meant to live in our region.
To find native plants that will work in your yard, check out the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s guide, “Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping” (fws.gov/chesapeakebay/pdf/NativePlantsforWildlifeHabitatandConservationLandscaping.pdf). The free, 85-page PDF has information on your local habitat, plants, shrubs and trees, and a wide recommendation of plants for your particular landscape and habitat traits.
Once you’ve picked a few plants to fit your needs, you can head to your local farmer’s market, where gardeners will have native plants for sale, or your favorite local gardening center, which will likely have a good selection of natives. There are also quite a few special native plant sales in the area, around Earth Day, including at Historic London Town.
If you’ve encouraged your kids along the way, they should be excited to pick out their plants, get them in the ground, and even take an interest in taking care of them.
Your kids probably hate to clean, but they’ll be happy if you enlist them in mixing up some “potions” that will help you out with household chores, save money, and cut down on your household’s chemical consumption.
With a few simple household ingredients, you can make simple cleaning liquids, soaps, shampoos, and detergents.
Simple Cleanser—Mix one part water, one part vinegar together, then let the kids pick from sliced lemon, lime or oranges, and add to the mix. You can also add herbs like rosemary or thyme to the mix for added fragrance. Let the mixture sit for a few days to let the scent infuse. Then you can spray down counters, windows, and whatever else needs a wipe down.
All-purpose Cleaning Spray—Mix together 1 tsp Borax, ½ tsp of Washing Soda, 1 tsp Castille Soap. Add two cups warm water, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and store in a spray bottle to get cleaning! (Recipe adapted from wellnessmama.com)
Did we mention kids love to dig in the dirt? Getting your little ones interested in composting can be fun and easy for that very reason. Start with a large bowl or bucket in your kitchen that you can put food scraps into . . . apple slices left over from lunch, vegetable peelings, egg shells, sandwich crusts, coffee grounds . . . pretty much anything but meat and dairy product remnants.
When your container fills up (or starts to get stinky), head outside and add it to your compost pile or bin. Then have fun mixing it in with already composted materials, and add “brown” material from the yard like leaves, weeds and grass clippings. Have your kids keep an eye out for worms and other fun bugs that might be hunting around your compost. Our kids found a turtle on top of our pile once that was feasting on watermelon rind!
After several months your compost will have decomposed well enough to mix it with garden soil for beds or containers, add some to your houseplant soil, or sprinkle in the yard to help grass grow.
Anne Arundel County has a Backyard Composting program that provides free bins, as well as material on how to be successful at composting. Backyard composting kits are available at the Central Recycling Center, Southern Recycling Center, and the Recycling and Waste Reduction Division. Find all the details at aacounty.org.
Annapolis Compost (annapoliscompost.com) is a service that provides composting bins, and will collect your scraps from you weekly, as well as clean out your bins and twice a year, deliver compost to you.