Friday, April 3, 2009

Earth Day 2009

Earth Day is April 22 so I thought I'd put together a "little" mention about that. (It seems impossible for me to write a short anything.) I remember talking about Earth Day in elementary school and getting excited about participating in something that people all over the world were involved with at the same time. It somehow made me feel globally connected. (I didn't travel far outside my hometown of 400 and these were the days before the internet.) I remember that we had a little parade up to Main Street and I "reported" on it for our short-lived faux news channel. In a class of 17 children, we didn't have the resources that kids in the metro area have now. (And we had to walk to school uphill in 2 feet of snow, barefoot.)

Back in 1988-ish, Earth Day was a nice thing to talk about, but it didn't have the urgency that it does today. I remember our main concerns being oil spills and cleaning up litter around waterways. Boy, if those were the only things we had to worry about today. Now, every day during the summer, I have to check the Air Quality Index to see if my child will be allowed to go outside at recess. Oh, and by the way, the arctic ice that helps cool the Earth is melting faster than expected and a new study shows that it could be completely gone in 30 years, so get ready for a heat wave! Ugh.

Last year, we bought her this book, It's Earth Day! by Mercer Mayer at Wal-Mart. We've always loved that author and this seemed like a good way to introduce environmental responsibility. In the book, Little Critter finds out that the polar ice is melting, so he embarks on a mission to help save the polar bears by recycling, etc. We decided that this was an easy, albeit not entirely accurate, way to engage a then two-year-old in discussions about conserving energy. So, whenever she runs the water too long, stands with the fridge open for several minutes, or forgets to turn a light off, we chime, "Anna, we need to save the polar bears!" This is a cause she can get behind. Who doesn't love polar bears?! I saw this link this morning that the Arctic nations are taking steps to help save the polar bears. The KC Zoo is supposed to be getting a polar bear exhibit in the next couple of years, so that is exciting!

We observed Earth Hour on March 28 and it was surprisingly fun, as we played some board games by the fire with champagne (for me), while I Twittered on my new iPhone. We had explained to Anna that this was another way to help the polar bears and she even insisted on going to the bathroom in the dark. She actually got upset when we used electricity instead of flashlights the next morning. My heart swelled with pride last night as she picked up one of Roy's empty pop cans (that he leaves all over the downstairs) and brought it upstairs to put in the recycle bin.

Last year, we bought adorable organic cotton t-shirts from Wal-Mart and they have new designs this year for the whole family, including a maternity version. These range in price from $4 to $6. We had to get ours fairly early last year because they were selling out, so get there soon. This year's designs were all "inspired by" celebrities, including Keith Urban, Jewel, Demi Lavato, Beyonce and Gavin Rossdale.

Wal-Mart has a whole section of their website devoted to Earth Month. Here are a few other products that caught my eye. Sesame Street video, Ziploc Evolve bags, shelving and Planet Earth DVDs (which we have, but haven't watched yet).

Some other ideas I use: recyclable toothbrush, canvas shopping bags for $1 and recycling other plastic bags at grocery stores, Starbucks cup that gets you 10 cents off every time you use it, save leftover fast food napkins to use at home, take old catalogs to Anna's school to use for art projects, Ideal Bite, "An Inconvenient Truth", "The 11th Hour".

There is the related issue of THE HORRIBLE THINGS WE ARE DOING TO OUR OCEANS, but I could write a whole other post on that and this one is getting too long!
I'd love to hear ideas that you use to help save the polar bears!

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