Bring sustainability into homeschooling and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day
April 22, 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! With schools closed and our daily life upended, we have had to shift, adapt and create new daily routines. This is a great opportunity to assess what is and what is not serving us, and to create new habits. Now is a chance to have discussions with our families about environmental stewardship and put those lessons into action in our own homes.
Sustainability spans a wide variety of topics and affects all aspects of our lives. Find a topic (from below) that interests your kids and start there. One small change can collectively make a big difference.
Resources for Learning & Taking Action
Reducing Plastics & Unnecessary Stuff
- Check out some of the incredible videos on “The Story of Stuff Project”.
- Learn with your kids about where stuff in your home came from and where it’s headed. Then work together on repurposing, giving things away, and most importantly, reducing purchases of new items and plastics that might otherwise end up in a landfill or our environment.
Natural Yard Care & Pollinators
- King County provides “five steps to natural yard care” to save money and time, and protect our families’ health and the environment.
- Commit to planting a pollinator garden to help sustain the planet’s ecosystem through Earthday.org’s “Take Action” movement. Reach out to neighbors to share gardening tools and seeds.
- Host pollinators in your yard. Watch this video from Finn Hill PTSA’s Sustainability Chair Caroline Speirs about how she added mason bees to her garden.
Did you know that food waste is estimated at 30 – 40% of the U.S. food supply? In a landfill, uneaten food releases methane, a potent climate change contributor.
- Visits to the grocery store may be limited at this time, so here are tips from King County on buying, storing and using food wisely.
- Check out EarthDay.Org’s FoodPrints campaign to discover your foodprint and have your family take this foodprint quiz.
- Collect inedible food scraps and throwing them in with yard waste to be composted. The cities of Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue and Sammamish all allow food scraps and food-soiled paper like napkins and pizza boxes to be added to yard waste bins. Be sure to keep out any rubber bands, plastic, tissues, animal waste or anything that can’t/shouldn’t be converted into compost.
- Common Sense Education – Climate change resources for students.
- Ecowatch – 5 ways to teach children about climate change.
- NASA Climate Kids – Games and resources for elementary students.
- Project Learning Tree – 12 videos to help us understand climate change.
- Greta Thunberg – Videos from a 17-year-old changemaker.
- Ecosia – An internet browser that plants trees when you search the web.(your middle or high schooler likely knows about this already!)
It is important to use disinfectants to fight the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it’s also very important to make sure you are using them effectively and safely. Keep in mind that many disinfectants contain toxic chemicals and are technically pesticides. Washing hands and cleaning frequently used surfaces with soap and water are still the best way to keep the virus from entering the body. If you’re using disinfectants on surfaces, choose fragrance-free versions and allow them to dry completely before allowing children to come back into the area. Fragrances including those found in cleaners, plug-ins, deodorizers, perfumes, laundry detergents, fabric softener, lotions, etc., cause poor indoor air quality and may contribute to asthma attacks or hormone disruption.
- The Washington State Department of Health has helpful information on cleaning in the classroom, which may be applied to your home classroom!
- Find safer products through EPA’s Safer Choice Program.
- Environmental Working Group offers a database of safer cleaning products through its Guide for Healthy Cleaning
Health and the Environment
- The Children’s Environmental Health Network developed a Parent & Educator Toolkit with excellent resources on how the environment affects human health.
- And finally, if you’re fed up with the whole TOILET PAPER situation (both the lack of toilet paper and the plastic that accompanies it), consider cutting back by installing a bidet. It might take a bit of getting used to, but they are inexpensive, easy to install, and can help save money and resources in a big way.
- Stay healthy and get outside whenever you can!
LW PTSA Council’s Sustainability Committee would love to hear from you. Reach out if you have questions or to share the sustainable changes your family is already making. Email Sustainability Committee Chair Stephanie Lecovin at firstname.lastname@example.org