The 51st annual Earth Day – the global initiative which aims to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement – took place yesterday, Thursday, April 22. But we at Mini Hippo tend to think that the earth should be celebrated each and every day, so we’ve come up with 10 ways to do exactly that!
PLANT A BEE-FRIENDLY GARDEN
Thanks to global warming, pesticides and the destruction of native habitats, it has never been more important to save the bees. Luckily, organisations like Save the Bees Australia are helping families do exactly that, and one thing they ask Aussies to do is to create insect-friendly gardens. Choose a diverse range of flora to plant in your garden, focusing on the plants that are indigenous to your area, and even add a bee hotel to make it extra homely!
BECOME WATER WISE
Understanding where our water comes from and how to use it wisely is a skill we should all have – though particularly here in Australia. Spend some time with your children researching exactly what happens before water comes pouring out of your tap, through activity sheets, books and videos, and even consider building a rain garden – a garden that is planted strategically to channel rain water and run off into the ground – in your own backyard.
CREATE AN EARTH HOUR PACK
Earth Hour may have just passed last month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have another one – or more! Before you switch all of your lights and non-essential appliances off, you’ll want some screen-free entertainment ready to go. Pick up some flame-free candles or lanterns, your children’s favourite books and puzzles, plus some delicious Earth Hour snacks and you’ve got yourselves a great night – the children might not want the lights to come back on!
MAKE A FAIRY GARDEN
Fairy-obsessed children will love this activity! All you need to do is scavenge around your backyard or local park for materials that could form your fairy garden – be sure not to pluck anything off branches, and only use items you find lying loose on the ground. You’ll want a variety of twigs, some pebbles, some grass or mulch and an assortment of flowers, plus some kind of container (we recommend reusing something you already own), then let the children loose creating their fairy gardens!
PLANT A TREE
Trees are truly magical, but with rates of deforestation steadily increasing thanks to farming and fires, we are missing out on their incredible benefits. From reducing CO2 in the atmosphere to providing biodiversity for native plants, insects and animals, there are so many reasons to plant more trees. It starts with us! Research shows that a worldwide tree planting programme could remove two-thirds of emissions from human activities, so call your local council or do a quick Google search to find out how you and your family can join a tree planting programme.
DO A NATURE SCAVENGER HUNT
Before we can protect our natural surroundings, we need to understand them, and a child-friendly scavenger hunt in nature is a great way to do exactly that! Do some research to find out which native plants, birds and animal life can be found in your local area, then create a list (with pictures) for your children to find next time you visit the park or beach. Teach them the difference between flowers and weeds, and the importance of both (did you know that bees also love weeds?!). How many can they spot?
DO AN EMU PARADE
Part of the 2021 Earth Day action plan is to start ‘plogging’ – ie, picking up litter while jogging – but with children in tow, it’s much easier to walk. So, why not start going for regular ‘Emu Parades’? Any Aussie whose parents made them go to school on the very last day of the year, or who attended on Clean Up Australia Day, will know what an Emu Parade is, but if you don’t, the concept is simple: go for a walk and pick up any piece of litter you can find. You don’t have to wait until Earth Day to get started!
BUILD A BIRD BATH
Beyond being pretty additions to your backyard, front yard or balcony, did you know that bird baths promise a number of benefits? They help protect birds from cats and other predators, offer a safe source of clean water for drinking and grooming and, selfishly, give us humans a way to connect with our native bird population. You can of course buy a new bird bath, but we recommend building one with your children! We like the look of this modern yet super affordable DIY idea.
TRY SOLAR PHOTOGRAPHY
Have you ever heard of cyanotypes? They’re a type of photography that you do, wait for it… without a camera. They’re pretty cool! All you need is some cyanotype fabric, a collection of objects to make your prints out of (we recommend pressed flowers and leaves to keep in the Earth Day spirit) and an hour or two. All you do is assemble your objects on your piece of fabric (keep the unused pieces in the package to avoid sun exposure) then take your artwork out into the sun to let it process. After about 15 minutes, rinse the fabric in cool water, and you have yourself a sustainable artwork, napkin or cloth in a beautiful print!
REPURPOSE YOUR RECYCLING
Whether you paint your unwanted tin cans, upcycle some furniture you found during curbside pick-up or turn your unwanted cardboard or paper into a beautiful collage, physically turning your scrap into something beautiful or functional teaches important lessons about sustainability to your children. It encourages them to look at waste in a new way, diverting items from landfill and ensuring that they are given a second (or even third or fourth) life.