The other day, I was concerned that my fridge wasn’t working properly so I put my meat thermometer in there in check the temperature. I left it in there over the course of a day and checked the temperature whenever I opened the fridge for something. My shocking discovery: just keeping the fridge door open for 10 seconds made the temperature go up 3 degrees! I know we joke about attracting penguins when the refrigerator door is open, but this is truly a waste of money and energy.
With this in mind, I collected some helpful eco activities for kids to learn about energy conservation, waste and the 4 Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose.
How to Teach Kids about Conservation
1. Help the kids measure the water flow of their shower head. Robert Nickell, father of seven and founder of Daddy & Co advises, if the shower fills a half-gallon milk carton in less than 10 seconds, it is using more water than an energy-efficient shower-head would use.
2. Robert Nickell also recommends having kids search for air leaks around doors, windows, and air conditioners and notify their parents of any leaks they find. This activity can be done at home or at school.
3. Show kids how energy is absorbed and transferred. The analogy is the two cars in the sun, one white and one black, and the black car heats up faster. You can show kids you can save energy by just changing the color of things to absorb more radiation and heat. You can place different colored objects under a lamp and take their temperature to compare. This fabulous eco-idea comes from Michael Di Prospero at Easy Clean Toronto.
4. Get kids involved in the donation process. This can be as simple as a Goodwill round up, or something more financially profitable like going to an ecoATM. Taking kids to the kiosk with devices could be a fun way to teach them about waste conservation and sensible reuse. EcoATM’s 900 kiosks are conveniently located in shopping malls and select Walmart stores nationwide. By providing cash payments for unwanted mobile phones, tablets and MP3 players that would otherwise end up in landfills, the company has recovered or reused more than 500,000 pounds of devices in its four-year history-that includes 70,000 pounds of copper and over 1,500 pounds of silver.
5. Have kids exchange their old things for “new” used things on Yerdle! Yerdle is a new type of store where you give and get things for free. Accessible via the iOS app, the store houses thousands of items – from kid’s toys and kitchenware to Patagonia jackets- all donated by other yerdle users or brand partners and available to other members. Its mission: to eliminate 25 percent of new merchandise sales by making it easy for people to find what they need from others willing to lend it or give it away.
6. Repurpose commonly thrown out household items like toilet paper rolls suggests Alex Eaves, professional reuser and owner of STAY VOCAL Reuse Apparel. There are so many great ways to repurpose toilet paper rolls; from making characters out of
them to making a cardboard statue to making small gift holders. For more recycling facts click here.
7. Play recycling games with your kids to teach them the benefits of recycling, says David Bakke from Money Crashers. One such game is called the Dumptown Game and can be found at the Recycle City website sponsored by the EPA.
8. Test the waters…literally! The Leaf Pack Experiment Kit is a scientific stream-testing kit that measures the numbers and kinds of insects and other invertebrates in streams to determine overall water quality. The pack is meant for groups of kids and the price ranges from $99 – $199. This would be fun for a class, group or camp! After conducting a leaf pack experiment, groups have the option of sharing their data through theLeaf Pack Network®.
9. Nothing saves more energy dollar for dollar than using a clothesline to dry your clothes advises Pablo Solomon, artist and designer. Find out from the electric power company or gas company how much energy is used with each dryer load of clothes. Then put up a clothes line to see how easy it is to allow the sun and wind to dry your clothes. Hanging clothes is an easy job for kids to get involved with household conservation.
10. Plant a garden with your child. Even if you live in an apartment, you can make a container herb garden. Kids should understand the origins of the food they eat and how the environment affects the growth cycle, recommends Varda Meyers Epstein, environmental writer and mother of 12. To take this activity into the frugal living arena, have your kids “sell” their fruits, vegetables and flowers to their parents. Let them see the money allocated to these things that they’ve grown for themselves.
11. Create art from debris. Whether you go on a scavenger hunt for litter or dig in your recycling bin, Kids can make interesting art from rubbish. For some inspiration, check out Washed Ashore, an environment art non profit that hosts workshops where school-age children and their families together build huge sculptures of sea life all made from ocean debris to show how plastic pollution is destroying our oceans and waterways.
12. Read a book. There are many children’s books out there on recycling and conservation. A great example is Turtle Without a Home. It teaches the importance of litter prevention, recycling, conservation, and ecosystems and has proven to be a wonderful read aloud to children ages 5-10.
13. Show kids how you can use citrus to clean. For example use lemon or orange juices to remove water stains. “Transforming items they already know and showing them new ways to use them is always a good idea, as it promotes critical and creative thinking,” says Michael Di Prospero at Easy Clean Toronto, a cleaning company founded by two university graduates with specialties in education and
Even though Earth Day is not for over a month, these are great activities that you can start trying out today! And speaking of Earth Day, in April I’ll be featuring several video tutorials on crafts, decorations and more activities you can do with kids to celebrate Earth Day!
Which Earth-friendly activity will you try with the kids in your life?
The debut DIY home decor ebook Rooms Repurposed: A Purposeful Home, A Purposeful Life