3 Ways to Celebrate World Environment Day with Your Family
By Sher Warkentin in Thinking Sustainably
It's never too soon to start teaching your kids about the importance of protecting the environment and finding ways to help. World Environment Day (WED) is a great time to start this important conversation and lend a helping hand as a family.
What Is World Environment Day?
Celebrated annually on June 5, the United Nations hosts this global event to help raise awareness about the environment and invite people around the world to take action to protect our planet and its natural resources. Since its inception in 1974, a different country has hosted the event with a specific WED theme. This year, the event will be hosted by China, and the focus is on air pollution.
China will be celebrating the day with official activities throughout the country, highlighting its own challenges in fighting air pollution. However, anyone around the world can take part in the celebration to raise awareness about air pollution and how to minimize it. You can sign up on the WED site for updates on official events in your local area, or you can come up with ways that you and your family can celebrate right in your own neighborhood. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Cook an Environmentally Friendly Dinner
From greenhouse gas emissions created by raising cattle to the pollution created from trucks hauling produce across the country, a single meal can leave a big carbon footprint. Help your family understand how the food you eat can have an impact on the environment by taking a clean air approach to dinner on WED.
First, sit down together and come up with a meal you all love. Discuss your favorite foods and do some research together on what goes into producing those dishes you enjoy most. Decide on a menu that is both appetizing and environmentally friendly. Next, make a list of the ingredients you need to buy to make the meal, selecting items that are in season and grown locally to minimize transportation impacts on the environment.
Head to the grocery store—or, even better, to your local farmers' market—to gather all the items on your list. As you shop, take the time to read labels and determine where items came from and how far they traveled to arrive on the shelf. When you have everything you need, you're ready to get cooking. Get your kids involved in the process and make it a meal the whole family has a part in creating.
When you finally sit down to eat, talk about what you've learned over the course of the day and how the foods we eat impact the environment around us. Decide what you can do as a family to minimize your mealtime impact on air pollution.
2. Take a Car-Free Day Trip
One of the biggest causes of air pollution is transportation. An average car releases approximately 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Spend WED learning about sustainable modes of transportation and the best ways to minimize your impact on air pollution.
Start by picking a destination. If possible, choose something outdoors, such as a park, beach, hiking trail, or garden where you can spend some time enjoying the environment as a reminder of why it's so important to protect. Once you've picked a spot, it's time to research how to get there. Have your kids help you map out the route and figure out a way you can travel without using your car, such as by riding the bus, using bicycles, or even walking.
With your route mapped out and transportation options researched, vote on how you want to get to your destination, making sure to take into account which choice has less impact on the environment. Then head out for an eco-friendly adventure. When you get to your destination, talk about the transportation you used and how it's different from your normal method of getting around.
3. Clean Your Indoor Air
Air pollution doesn't just impact the environment outside—it can also be found inside your own home. Spend the day teaming up with your family to clean the air indoors. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, indoor air pollutants can come from a variety of sources, including dust and dander, fumes and odors from household cleaners, improper ventilation, and more.
Clearing clutter can help eliminate dust and dander. This is an easy way to clean up the air, and you can have the whole family pitch in and even donate items you don't need or want that contribute to clutter.
Go through your cleaning supplies and swap out household cleaners that contain artificial substances with ones that contain natural ingredients—or even make your own, like this homemade bathroom cleaner. This is a fun way to get the kids excited about cleaning, too.
Grown-ups can also take charge of replacing filters on HVAC vents and installing carbon monoxide detectors to help keep track of carbon levels in the home.
Every day of the year is a good day to remember that the environment needs our help to stay healthy. If you can't manage a project for WED, don't worry. You can use this inspiration to get your family engaged in preventing air pollution any day of the year.
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Why It's Good
World Environment Day is a great opportunity to learn about the impact of air pollution and what your family can do to help. Every little bit counts, and these projects give even the youngest members of your family a chance to learn about the importance of doing their part.