Wednesday June 5th is World Environment Day and a great opportunity to pick up my book. How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet takes readers on an icky, sticky, gross and smelly journey with the main character, Captain Garbology, to become a Waste Warrior and save the whole stinkin’ planet. By following the different paths that waste can take and even shrinking down to get up close to the gory details, Captain Garbology gets into the nitty gritty of waste science (Garbology 101) and invites readers to get their hands dirty with hands-on activities throughout.
This World Environment Day, I wanted to list a few ways that you can save the whole stinkin’ planet as a family.
A hike or beach day with an enviro twist
Getting out and about and enjoying nature together is a great thing to do as a family so why not pick up litter as you hike or plan your beach trip near an area that needs a clean-up? A simple challenge like the initiative ‘Take Three for the Sea’ asks beach goers to always find three pieces of litter to put in the bin before leaving the beach. This simple act can make the whole family more observant of the things we leave behind in any environment.
From frog ID, to water quality testing; there are lots of different activities that your family can do to get involved in conservation and environmental science. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to meet scientists and other conservationists in a community setting. There are even great citizen science apps your family can download to log and identify species as you find them and help with ecological studies.
Clothing swaps are a great way for the whole family to refresh the wardrobe while giving unwanted clothing a new home. Make it a fun event with other families! Do you know a family with older kids who may have clothing they’ve grown out of that your kids would love? Or do you know families with kids who are the same age and size? Swapping clothing within a friendship group is a wonderful way to encourage sharing while reducing everyone’s wish list. Bonus: Does your school have a costume day each year? Start a costume pool where kids can share their costumes with each other instead of trying to find new costumes.
Enviro movie nights
There are some phenomenal documentaries with environmental messages that would make for a great night out (or in!) and open up plenty of discussions. I would recommend watching 2040, a film that explores what the future could look like in the year 2040 and how we can make a positive future a reality together.
Where does your family food waste come from? Where does it go? Most of the household waste that goes to landfill is food waste and it’s that waste that creates greenhouse gases like methane! The best way to avoid this is by composting. Making a compost heap together is a great way to turn food waste into a feast for microbes and is a great activity to do with kids. Make it a weekend routine to turn the compost over and see how everything is breaking down. Is anything breaking down slower or quicker? Why? Bonus: worm farms are loads of fun to create and care for!
Grow green thumbs
Home gardening together is a fun family activity (especially if you can use your own compost to help those veggies thrive and close that food waste loop). Whether it’s a small herb garden or a community tree planting day, this is a wonderful opportunity to do something for the planet as a family. It’s also a point of pride to sit down to a family meal and talk about something on the plate that came from the garden. How far away would that lettuce have had to travel if we bought it at the store? How many food miles have we saved together?
Does your family accumulate too much stuff? Combining family spring cleaning with a garage sale is a great way to see your things get a new life and making some pocket money as a family. The Garage Sale Trail is a wonderful yearly event that allows you to register and advertise your family garage sale and maximise the number of pre-loved items that leave the lawn on the day. Why not make the Garage Sale Trail a family outing day? You can plan your route and make a wish list as a family!
See if your local landfill or recycling sorting facility does tours. This is a really good way to get up close to the end destination for your family’s waste and ask those tricky trash questions. It’s also something that can open up family discussions and make members of the family more mindful when the time comes to throw things away.
Pre-loved treasure hunts
Family outings to second-hand stores can be a lot of fun for everyone. Close the loop by not just donating but buying from second-hand stores. There is a lot of excitement, wonder and even adventure scouring the shelves for gems to take home whether it’s clothing, décor or your next craft project. See how many of the things from the family wish list can be sourced second hand and find your new favourite second-hand stores to frequent.
Tree planting is a classic environmental community activity and one that I enjoyed with my own family as a kid. Community environmental groups often run tree planting days that are open to the public or you could organise your own!
Happy World Environment Day, everyone! Now let’s go save the whole stinkin’ planet!