Maria Luiza Gagos
Founder of Green Rank
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Young generations are our future and our hope. To keep our planet healthy and safe for them, we need to protect it and teach our kids how to also be eco-friendly.
The current state of our planet is discussed globally. Unfortunately, the hyper-industrialization in which we live comes with a negative impact on Planet Earth, and our kids are inheriting environmental issues that need solutions. Let’s help them take care of the planet and inspire them to implement new solutions!
Small green actions they see at home, or at school, can translate into big environmental projects. Your children can be in charge of the environmental summit of the future, so let’s make sure we tell them about the consequences our activities have on air quality, soil quality, flora, and fauna.
In mid-September, the most significant climate summit of the fall takes place in New York. The City of New York will run it in coordination with the United Nations General Assembly. Climate Week NYC 2020 will focus on rebuilding the universal economy for people and the planet and, as expected, it will mostly be virtual.
Wherever you are, and even if you don’t access any of the Climate Week events, it is a good time to spark interest in the environment in kids. Don’t feel intimidated. You don’t need a specific curriculum. Your children simply need to see your eco-friendly actions and they will learn.
At Green Rank, this is exactly what we want to do: inspire kids to learn about our planet and to learn how to protect it. We do so through products that teach kids through play. In mid-September, we’re running a giveaway to give you a taste of our products, but you can always find our products and freebies on our website.
While we teach through fun books, interactive eBooks, and entertaining worksheets, lessons can also be learned by helping kids create a meaningful relationship with their natural surroundings. For example, take them to the park, to the forest, or to any nearby natural spots. Teach them about the plants you see; talk to them about their importance. Observe the insects, birds, and animals living there. Kids will protect what they know and love.
To deepen their eco-experience, involve them in green activities around the house. Teach them how to reduce, reuse, recycle, or compost. Explain the positive consequences these simple acts have on the planet.
You can also prepare activities and games with eco-friendly elements that will be fun for the entire family. They will learn without even knowing that they’re learning!
To inspire you, here are three easy activities you can do with the kids and enjoy a little more of nature and time together.
Make citrus vinegar – reduce and reuse
Most of us might not realize it, but conventional cleaning products are not always eco-friendly. Manufacturers often use harsh chemicals and toxins that pollute our water, air, and soil. Besides, most cleaning products come in plastic packaging and are transported from production to distribution. All this has an environmental footprint.
There are easy ways to make our own cleaning products at home, using simple, natural ingredients. This simple act will eliminate some of the negative impacts and make for a great learning opportunity for your kids. Here is one of those ways.
Use citrus peels to make your own citrus vinegar. For this simple activity, you will need citrus peels, a jar, water and some pebbles, or other small objects.
You can then use the vinegar to clean most surfaces. The environmental impact is minimal and you use something that would go to waste, otherwise!
Start by putting all the peels in a jar, and do not pack them too tightly. Make sure there is enough space for water. Fill up the container with water, ensuring the peels never touch the surface of the water. Leave around 1 inch of space at the top because, during the fermentation process, the water will rise. If the peels float, use pebbles or other small objects to weigh them down. Put on the lid, but don’t close it tightly, so air can circulate. Check on it every day, making sure there is enough water and the peels are submerged.
The vinegar will be ready in 7-10 days, depending on the room temperature. The water will change its color to yellow or orange, based on the peels you used. It will have a pleasant, citrusy smell. Drain the vinegar and discard the peels. Use the vinegar for surface cleaning and enjoy the citrus fragrance in your home!
Make paper from paper – recycle
This activity is a winner with the kids! It can be a little messy, but it has impressive results. Together, you will transform any paper into a rustic sheet of paper that your kids can use. This is a perfect opportunity to explain how paper recycling works, as the process is very similar to what happens in a recycling facility.
You will need old paper, water, a blender, fine steel mesh, or a cloth that can serve as a screen, a strainer, a rolling pin, and a bowl. You can use newspapers or used office paper. Use only clean paper, without food stains or grease, and don’t use any paper lined with plastic.
To start, tear the paper into small pieces and soak it in water. Once fully soaked (after a few minutes), transfer it to the blender and blend thoroughly.
You may need to add more water. The amount of water should make it easy to blend, but not watery. Once blended, the paper should form a homogenous pulp. When you are done blending the mix, you can add natural dies, or even seeds, to make the paper more interesting.
Strain the pulp in the strainer and drain most of the water out. Put the screen you are using on a flat surface and transfer your mix to it. Use the rolling pin to spread the pulp on the surface of the screen. Press it down with the rolling pin to drain more water out of the paper. Press until you have a thin sheet.
Leave it until it dries out completely. It could take hours or even a day or two. Peel it off and let you kids use it for anything they want!
Make an upcycled rug – reuse
After you explained the importance of recycling, you can teach your kids about reusing or upcycling. Use materials or objects you don’t need anymore and give them a new life. This is a creative activity, as you will use old T-shirts and make a new object out of them!
The fashion industry is a big polluter. Most fabrics are not recycled and go straight to landfills. That’s why it’s important to give each piece the most use, to lower its environmental footprint.
For this activity, you will need old T-shirts, a rug pad with big holes, scissors, and a pencil or similar object.
Start by cutting the T-shirts into long stripes, around ½ inch wide. Then, cut the long strips into shorter, equal pieces, 4-5 inches long. Depending on the age of your child, they can observe how you do it or help you with the cutting.
When you have enough stripes, your child can decide on the pattern you will create. It can be a chaotic mix of colors, or you can create a unique design. Their imagination is the limit!
Push a strip of fabric through a hole. If this step is difficult, use a pencil, crochet hook, or similar object to push it through. Then, tie a simple knot on a chosen side of the pad. Continue the process, filling up all the holes of the rug pad. Each of you can work on a different part of the rug, and you meet in the middle. The entire family can help!
After you are done with this activity, you can start a game with your kids. Every time you have an old item, find new uses and purposes, instead of throwing it out. Spark your children’s imagination and creativity and save the planet at the same time!
As you can see, teaching kids how to reduce, reuse, or recycle is fun. These are only three of the many, fun activities that can teach them – from an early age – how to appreciate our planet and lower their carbon footprint. To get more activities and tips, and to continue their eco-learning through fun, visit our website. We have free printables, free interactive eBooks, and even a picture book for your little ones. Kids rave about our cute Eco-Hero, Ge, and his faithful companions Oinky and Tricky, our Eco Trickster. I’m sure your kids will love them, too!
When we inspire our children to care for our planet, they come up with innovative solutions, once they grow up. After all, you never know who will invent the next environmental breakthrough. It could be your child!
About Maria Luiza Gagos
Maria Gagos is the founder of Green Rank, a children’s company that creates products, games, and interactive activities that combine environmental welfare with childhood imagination. Maria has an extensive background in technology and finance, and is passionate about the environment and making a positive difference on our planet. She has an MBA from Columbia University and several certifications from Harvard and MIT. To see more, view all posts by Maria Luiza Gagos here, or visit her website GreenRank.me.