5 Simple Earth Day Service Ideas for Families


Photo credit: mattjiggins/Creative Commons
This guest post was written by Karen Bantuveris, founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot.

Friday marks the 41st anniversary of Earth Day and communities across the globe are ramping up festivities that celebrate, protect and preserve our Mother Earth.

Get the whole family involved! Volunteering with your children provides a fun and positive family bonding experience and opens the door for meaningful conversations about good earth stewardship and the importance of giving back locally.5 Ways to Give Back and Go Green with Kids


  • Recycle at the recreation area. Gather cans and bottles at the soccer field, baseball diamond, public pool or park. Involve the whole team and make a display showing how much waste was produced and captured for recycling during a typical day.

  • Host a swap party to reuse past treasures. Round up friends and set a theme such as sports equipment and bicycles, books and DVDs, toys, or summer clothes the kids have outgrown. (Older children can swap prom dresses or used electronics.) Can't find new homes for all your old stuff? Donate extra items to a local charity.

  • Cleanup before and after. Whether you live in an urban or rural setting, chances are there's a section of park, beach or neighborhood public space that could benefit from your family's attention. Gather trash bags and gloves and pick up litter, scrub graffiti, tame underbrush or roundup recyclables. Take before and after photos of the area to show your kids that even a thirty-minute cleanup activity can produce noticeable results.

  • Found-art cheer. Decorate small pots with found items such as buttons, beads, tiles, washers and bolts. Plant a flower in each pot and deliver your Earth Day cheer to local nursing home residents or elderly neighbors.

  • Garden goodness. Plant a vegetable garden and include a row to share with your local food pantry or soup kitchen. Don't have room or patience for your own garden? Consider helping a neighbor that does, or volunteering at a school or community garden.


Making it a Habit

Volunteering as a family develops a positive service habit that sticks long into adulthood. Use the following four tips to help ensure your kids understand the impact of their good deeds.

  • Celebrate your Earth Day actions! Take pictures and video and post them on the fridge, facebook and YouTube.
  • If delivering recyclables to the depot or donating items to a local charity, bring your kids with you so they can better internalize how they helped make a difference.
  • Be sure to talk about your family's Earth Day service experience. Discuss what you did, why you did it, how it felt, and what you learned.
  • Build on your kids' enthusiasm and right then choose your next service project together. Younger kids may simply vote for their favorite activity on a list you provide, and older children can participate in researching environmental needs and groups active in green causes in your area.
Karen Bantuveris is the founder & CEO of VolunteerSpot, a time-saving online coordination tool that empowers busy parents, teachers and grassroots community leaders by making it easier get involved. VolunteerSpot's free online sign up sheets can be used for organizing anything - classroom volunteers, community cleanups, snack schedules, charity fun-runs, tournaments, carnivals, and more. Karen is passionate about increasing parent participation in schools and using new media tools to inspire social action in the 'real' world. Karen lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter: @VolunteerSpot and @VSpotMom. Read more about taking action: Bridge the Gap Between Earth Day and World Environment Day With Philippe Cousteau Join MTV and Nickelodean on Earth Day for "The Big Help" (Video) Give a Buck on Earth Day to Help 8 Great Charities

Tags: Activism | Earth Day | Green Youth

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