Saturday, 21 April 2018

Earth Day

Earth Day

Observed annually on April 22nd since its creation in 1970 by American Senator Gaylord Nelson, this grassroots celebration of our planet to foster awareness for various environmental causes. This international holiday reminds us that we can make a difference and support our planet everyday with little choices we make. Here are ten great ways that you can celebrate this Earth day!

1. Take a Hike 

Getting back into nature is one of the best ways to reconnect with Mother Earth. The Waterloo region has a ton of local walking and hiking trails.

Walking in nature not only helps to reset from the business of our day to day lives, it also has health benefits. Spending time with trees helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve mood.

Can't get out to the trails or forest? There are a ton of wonderful parks locally where you can get out and enjoy the green space while getting some Vitamin D and spending time in fresh air.

2. Hang a Bird Feeder 

Bird feeders help support our little winged friends by providing accessibility to food year round. One third of North America's bird species need conservation efforts to thrive, according to the latest State of North America’s Birds report.

Providing supplementary feeding can help offset the loss of habitat in urban areas as well as the negative effects of climate change.

Bird feeders will increase the variety of birds that visit your home and can be a great educational tool for families; by observing the birds in their natural habitat we can learn more about them. There are several different styles of bird feeder available at the local hardware stores.

You can even search online for simple DIY tutorials to build your own out of materials you have at home - the perfect Earth Day activity!

3. Play with Plants

Planting a tree is a great way to give back to the earth - trees help to clean the air and process carbon dioxide. If you don’t have a yard to plant a tree in you can still benefit from growing plants. Gardening helps support positive mental health, improved mood, and immunity.

Can't plant a tree? You can make some simple planter boxes, a terrarium or even just some potted plants to help bring a little extra greenery into your life. Making a terrarium is a great activity to do as a family and it can help to teach children how to care for living plants while letting them add their own toys for flair.

4. Plant a Garden

Get the whole household together to plant some fruits and veggies.

Planting our own food is a wonderful way to reconnect with nature and the food we eat.

For families this is also a great opportunity to teach kids about the cycles of life and the ecosystem.

The best part is getting to eat the fruits of your labour! Gardening doesn’t need to be done on a big scale: you can make a balcony or rooftop garden of just a few different types of plants.
If you’re looking to do something on a bigger scale or are lacking space at home, there are always community gardens that you can get involved with locally.  

5. Look after the Bees

Bees are essential for cross pollinating 80% of the plants on earth. Many of the foods we eat every day come from the hard work of our little pollinating friends. Due to pollution and environmental damage, bees are at risk.

Here are some things that we can do to help our little winged friends: 

  • Keep your garden pesticide and herbicide free. Plants absorb these chemicals from the water table and then pass along these chemicals to our insect friends. 
  • Avoid plain lawns as they lack plant diversity and weeds that are beneficial to bees. Keeping the grass trimmed might look good, but it cuts off development of weeds which are an important source of food for the bees in early spring. 
  • Buy honey from your local farmer to support sustainable beekeeping practices.

6. Make your home green

Take little every day steps to reduce your energy output and carbon footprint. For families this is a great way to teach children about the different ways you can pitch in to help the planet. Making several small changes can have a big impact and improve our planet’s health.

  • Make sure to turn off lights and electronics when they aren’t in use
  • Use energy efficient LED light bulbs
  • Use your washer/dryer efficiently by washing in cold water and ensuring the lint trap is empty before drying.
  • Take shorter showers to reduce water waste
  • Don’t leave the water running when your brushing your teeth or doing the dishes

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You can take these every day actions one step further and get your home an energy audit to see how energy efficient you are. Reducing your emissions at home can make a great impact on the environment and help to raise awareness and earth healthy practices for future generations.
Looking for more home energy saving tips? Check out this list by BC Hydro on reducing home energy use and your monthly hydro bill.

7. Read up on the environment

There are several great green reads including:
  • “The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore
  • “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
  • “Tree: A Life Story” by David Suzuki
  • “Utterly Amazing Earth” by Dorling Kindersley
  • “Botanicum” by Kathy Willis and Katie Scott

There are also many books for the whole family to enjoy!

8. Watch an eco movie

There are several green themed movies you can watch with the whole family. Here are 5 of my favourite family movies with an environmental theme:
  • Wall-E
  • Fern Gully
  • Bambi
  • Over the Hedge
  • Happy Feet
There are also many documentaries that focus on the facts of our environment and the perils it faces. Here is a list of fifty eco-friendly documentaries you can watch for Earth Day.

9. Clean out your closet

Do a little spring cleaning and give away your old clothes. Clothing manufacturing uses resources like water and energy. Instead of letting old clothes collect dust or sending them to a landfill you can help to reduce waste and organize a closet swap with friends or give them to a local charity. Take this Earth Day to unstuff your closet and give your unwanted clothing a new home.


10. Recycle

The Region of Waterloo cut its garbage intake at the beginning of 2017 down to alternating weeks in an effort to reduce waste. Since then the use of the Region of Waterloo’s recycling program has increased by 50%.

Recycling can be done easily at home and is a great way to instill environmentally friendly practices in children by including them in sorting and collecting recyclable waste. Remember that the first tenet of recycling is to reduce waste- when you are shopping bring your own bags and opt for low waste options.

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