Earth Day: A Family Tradition
There are a few holidays I could truly do without. For example: Valentine’s Day. I’d much prefer heartfelt extravagance in the love I give and receive throughout the year over the chocolate-laden, doily-hearted, uber-romance pressure of, what a friend once called, Forced Love Day. Corned beef and cabbage are delicious, but I’m not Irish, so St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a biggy in my world (though my kids insist on wearing green that day.) Earth Day, however, is a day that warrants universal celebration. We all share this planet, it gives us so much…wouldn’t it be great if all of the hype of lesser holidays were directed towards Earth Day, and we all felt excited (or at least obligated) to recognize and show this big blue marble some love? A kind of Valentine’s Day for the earth.
Most schools and many communities now host some kind of activity or lessons highlighting Earth Day. There are plenty of ways that families can make Earth Day an important, bona fide holiday in their homes. Just think of what characterizes the holidays we enjoy most. Why not put an Earth Day twist on them to come up with a fun way to make earth love part of your family’s consciousness?
- Decor: Make your home festive by sprucing it up with some Earth Day decor. You won’t find a section for this at your local store, but think Spring: a wreath made of herbs or branches, leaves and dried flowers from your yard, indoor flowering plants. Have everyone use recycled paper to draw pictures or clip old magazine photos featuring what they love about nature and the earth and post them around the home. Reuse items you have to create a centerpiece for the dining table. Light air purifying beeswax candles around your home.
- A celebratory meal: Prepare a meal featuring locally and/or sustainably grown and produce, meats, or fish. Include the kids on the food prep – it’s a great opportunity to help them understand where food comes from, and why some food choices are better for the planet and our bodies than others. Before dining, each person can give thanks for some gift of nature.
- The giving of gifts: This is a great day to replace something in your lives that isn’t earth friendly with something that is. If someone in your family still uses plastic water bottles, here’s an opportunity to buy them a cool reusable water bottle, or give a reusable razor to replace the disposable ones (The EPA estimates that over 2 billion disposable razors are annually disposed of in land fills in the U.S.). You get the idea. You can’t force anyone to use your gift, but it might introduce them to alternatives they didn’t realize existed. Don’t forget to give the earth a present too…after all, this day is a reminder of our need to give to the earth, not just take. Every year, your family might do an act of service such as planting a tree, cleaning up a shoreline, clearing out all good quality clothes and toys for donating.
- Holiday movies: There are plenty of movies whose story or cinematography leaves you feeling some major Earth love. Here are a few family-friendly picks: Wall-E, March of the Penguins, Planet Earth, Free Willy, Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, and Ponyo.