Happy Earth Day, everyone!
My five year old has been coming home from school every day chirping away about Earth Day and how we need to take care of Mother Earth. I’m thrilled to see her excitement, but wanted to hammer home that Earth Day is every day and not just one day of the year.
Little One: Mommy, it’s Earth Day! We need to bring lunch that has no garbage.
Me: Honey, you always bring litterless lunches to school! You do that every day already!
I find it so cute that my five year old talks about saving the planet and not polluting. We have the most brilliant conversations on the walk home from the bus stop in the afternoons. One of the things she is most concerned about right now is people littering. She was so sad when she told me that “wildlife will die if they get stuck in plastic bags. For a five year old, that’s pretty astute.
Some of the practices we teach Little One to make every day “Earth Day” are:
- At this time of the year, we heat our house with passive solar energy from our greenhouse.
- We try to hang out our laundry to dry as often as we can and only use the dryer when we need to.
- We compost all our fruit and vegetable scraps or feed them to our bunnies, chickens and ducks.
- Reduce – Reuse – Recycle (in that order)
- Re-purpose as much as we can. Little One has found creative ways to make furniture for her dolls that include re-purposing clementine/tangerine containers and pieces of cloth.
- PURGING! This is by far the most difficult for our five year old. We are going through all our belongings and making piles for “keep” “donate”, “sell”, “give to friends/family”, “recycle” and “toss” (for things that absolutely cannot be used anymore). Her “keep” pile seems to be far bigger than her other piles.
- Planting seeds to get ready for gardening! It’s important that Little One understands the growing process, taking care of the plants and how our relationship with our food is like any relationship. Plants require nourishment and love in order for us to then be nourished. The idea of food from the garden to the table is something we have been teaching Little One ever since she was two years old.
Here are some items that help us make Earth Day an every day occasion and make treading lighter on the the earth part of our lifestyle.
Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking
Starting from Scratch – What You Should Know about Food and Cooking
Written by Sarah Elton and Illustrated by Jeff Kulak
Excerpt from the Owl Kids website:
Starting from Scratch is a manifesto on food that will help kids relate to what they eat, whether on special occasions or every day, inspiring both budding chefs and budding food lovers in the process. Beginning with an exploration of taste and the way it works, author and food activist Sarah Elton explains how ingredients have been on the move for centuries, resulting in the unique and fusion flavors we love today. She breaks down the science of food and cooking into bite-sized and easily digestible pieces of information that cover everything from the chemistry of heat versus cold, fat versus acid, and salt versus sweet.
Both practical and philosophical in its approach, Starting from Scratch demystifies food and cooking by boiling it down to the basics. Kids will be able to make sense of recipes, measure and substitute ingredients, and stock a pantry, but they’ll also discover that food is more than just a prepackaged meal. Using simple and universal examples, like how an onion is transformed when it’s boiled versus charred, caramelized versus fried, Starting from Scratch will inspire kids to eat better, try new flavors, and understand what’s on their plate. Even readers who decide the kitchen isn’t for them will leave with an improved sense of where food comes from and be able to join in on a conversation that continues from snack time to dinnertime.
Why did I select Starting from Scratch as a great Earth Day book? Though it’s not about Earth Day, and more about food and an inspiration for budding chefs like Little One, I like that the book breaks down the science of food. I think food is a very important topic to talk about with kids. If children are interested in food, the science and chemistry of food, and how vegetables can transform from their original state to something completely different when cooked (steamed, boiled, caramelized, pureed, etc), they’ll likely be more inclined to try out new foods.
Little One really enjoyed reading this book with me. She’s my little sous-chef and helps me in the kitchen. Everything from helping me grow and tend the gardens, to collecting the produce from our gardens, to prepping them for cooking, and then creating healthy meals…Little One plays an active role in feeding our family.
My five year old’s review of Starting from Scratch: “It’s so neat! I like all the cool science-y experiments we can do with food to understand it more.”
Like I said, this is just a really interesting and fun book. Though it’s not an Earth Day book, it makes for a cool present for any kid (or grown-up kid like myself)!
One of the things we stress in our house is the importance of energy conservation. This means teaching our Little One to turn off lights when not in the room or turning off appliances when not in use. It’s just smarter habits that save us not only money, but also energy. In turn, this helps us tread lighter on Mother Earth. Little One is starting to grasp the concept, but to help even more, we have discovered WeMo!
With the Belkin’s WeMo home automation products, including the Switch, Motion sensor, Light Switch and new Insight Switch, you can control your home’s lights and appliances from your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, no matter where you are in the world. We really like the idea of having the ability to do this!
Using the free WeMo app, you can set up rules to have your coffee maker turn on so you wake up to the smell of fresh java, or have a lamp turn on when you walk into a room and turn off when you leave, or have your porch lights turn on at sunset and turn off at 11:30. Can you see where I’m going with this? Can you see how this can help with energy conservation in your home? Setting times for appliances and lights to turn on and off is handy and ingenious!
($49.99 to $59.99, available at Belkin.com, Future Shop, Best Buy, Home Depot and others).
Ever since Little One was a baby, I have been using food containers for her snacks so that we could go as waste-free as possible. We really love Wean Green‘s Wean Cubes. They’re perfect for filling with just the right amount of food for Little One and convenient to pop into a diaper bag or purse! They’re leak-proof, sturdy, BPA-free, made of glass, and the perfect way to go green!
I have made it a habit every since Little One started Junior Kindergarten last year to send her to school with litterless lunches. PlanetBox is an eco-friendly way to pack lunches. I love all the compartments. They add a great way to include food from all food groups, and in proper serving sizes/portions. Variety is key and so is “eating a rainbow” every meal. Lots of colours –fruits and veggies make mealtime exciting for Little One. You can get the above item at http://planetbox.com/.
Little One has been using Funkins for a few years now. When I first discovered these, it was love at first sight! Not only are the designs adorable, but the most important thing is that they are the perfect companion to Little One’s litterless lunches! No throwing anything out! They also make great place mats when eating out in public. I even carry one in my purse! When snacking on an orange when out and about, I have my Funkins to wipe my hands on.
Like I said, every day is Earth Day in our house. Funkins is definitely part of our every day. They also make great gifts!