Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Earth Day Activities for Young Earth Warriors


By Wong Ee Lynn

Earth Day falls on April 22 each year, and it is recognised all over the world as a day on which we celebrate and give thanks to Planet Earth and Mother Nature. Governments may discuss ways to protect the environment on this day, and this can lead to important decisions being made that can benefit mankind and the Earth. Ordinary citizens including schoolchildren learn ways they can protect the environment and help plants and wildlife. Sometimes, people may feel disheartened and discouraged and think that we are doing too little, too late to help Planet Earth. But every action makes a difference, and we should never stop doing things that we know to be good for the environment, animals and society.

Here are some ways you can observe and celebrate Earth Day this April:

1. Plant a tree. Plant a new tree in your garden, or if you don't have a spot for a tree, you can find out from Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and Landskap Malaysia if they could plant one on your behalf upon a donation being made. If you live near a community forest such as Bukit Gasing or Kota Damansara Community Forest, you can plant a tree there as well. Choose a native tree or plant, especially one that produces fruits or flowers that can provide food for native birds, animals and insects.

2. Go on a hike and celebrate the beauty of our wonderful Planet. If you live in Kuala Lumpur or Selangor, here are some of the hiking/trekking spots you can visit: Templer Park, Lembah Kiara Park, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Nenas Forest Reserve, FRIM and Kota Damansara Community Forest. Bring a few rubbish bags and gardening gloves along so you can pick up any rubbish you find along the trails.

3. Learn about composting and set up a compost bin. You can find out more about composting here: http://mnsgreenliving.blogspot.com/search/label/Composting

4. Brainstorm ways that your family can do more in helping the Earth. Do you need to turn off the lights and appliances more often? Can you recycle more? Can you replace paper items with cloth, such as napkins and cleaning rags? Can you reduce the number of documents you print? Perhaps you can try to keep your clothes cleaner so you won't have to do so many loads of laundry. Or how about driving less, and carpooling to activities with friends, or taking public transport instead?

5. Observe birds and wildlife. Learn about what animals need from us to live and remain in their environment. Can we do more to help them? It can be something as simple as watching a backyard bird feeder outside your window. Or perhaps you can put up some form of fencing around trees where birds gather to stop the neighbourhood cats and dogs from chasing and harming the birds.

6. Plant a garden. Try to grow your own vegetables this year. Not only will you be eating healthier, but you'll be reducing your carbon footprint. If you don't have room for a garden, grow some potted herbs on your windowsill. And if you really don't have a green thumb, vow to shop at your local farmer's market more this year. Local environmental organisation CETDEM holds a Hari Organik farmers' market every few months.

7. Hold a Jumble Sale: Pick out all the books, clothes, toys and other items you no longer need or want to keep, and sort them out for recycling, donating or sale. Hold a jumble sale to sell all the items that are still in good condition, and announce the event to your friends and neighbours. If you don't have the time or space for a Jumble Sale, then hold the sale online. Take photos of the items for sale and post them on Facebook or your blog with the asking price and a brief description of the item. Your friends can place their orders and pick the items up from you at home. You can then donate the proceeds of sale to your favourite wildlife / environmental protection organisation.

8. Make your own recycling bins: Make your own recycling bins (or bags) out of boxes, baskets, old toy storage units or cloth shopping bags. Decorate them as attractively as possible to encourage your friends and family members to notice and use them. You can also write or illustrate environmental tips and mottos on your recycling bins.

9. Do the No Impact Experiment in one day. Stand in a tub or large pail when you shower to see how much water you use during each shower. Stick a sheet of paper to the toilet cistern and tick on the paper each time you or someone else flushes the toilet. Think up ways you can reduce your water usage. Go through your household rubbish for the day. What do you throw away most of? Can you find ways to reduce the wastage of this item? Check the number of appliances used in your home. What should have been switched off, or put away when not in use? Are there any appliances whose function can be done more efficiently by hand? Can you go on a one-day "carbon cleanse" and not use any electrical appliances (except for perhaps the refrigerator and the fan)?

10. Go Car-Free: Car Free Day falls on Sept 22, but there is no reason why you can't go car-free other days of the year. Choose a day the same week as Earth Day to go car-free and walk, cycle or take public transport instead.

11. Hold a Book/Toy Swap with your friends: Pick out all the books, toys, games and CDs/DVDs you no longer want, and hold a toy/book/video swap with your friends. Everyone gets to go home with something new to him/her, and you get to share resources and prevent waste!

12. Replace disposable items with reusable and sustainable ones. Earth Day is a good day to break out of your old habits of carrying and using tissue paper or buying things that come in Styrofoam packaging or plastic bags. This Earth Day, form new and better habits of carrying reusable shopping bags, refillable water bottles, washable food containers and handkerchiefs with you everywhere you go. Give yourself a star on a chart each time you remember to bring your own drinking water, handkerchief, reusable shopping bag or food container whenever you go out of your house.

(Sources: http://www.creativefamilyfun.net/2013/04/10-ways-to-celebrate-earth-day.html)

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