The warm weather is upon us, and with the kids out of school (or soon to be leaving the halls of learning behind for a couple of months) you may be racking your brains to come up with a few new ways to keep them entertained so that you don’t have to hear a daily chorus of “Mom, we’re bored!”. And if you’ve adopted an eco-friendly attitude over the last year (or you’re simply continuing along your path to green living) you might be looking for ways to greenify every experience. That’s a pretty tall order for a parent that’s probably plenty busy already. So here are just a few fun family activities that are sure to keep the kids diverted and meet your eco-sensibilities at the same time.
1. Weekly visits to the bookmobile. Instead of blowing your dough at the bookstore, wait for your local library to send the bookmobile to a location near you so you can walk over with the kids and help them select a few new books to read. It will help keep their minds sharp so that they’re not entering the next school year unprepared to work, and it’s a great way to continue building their vocabulary and reading comprehension (under the guise of “fun”). As a bonus, you’ll discourage the printing of new books, which means less deforestation, and you’ll also keep the kids from watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the Facebook day and night (potentially conserving electricity).
2. Camping. Is there any better way to enjoy the fine weather and reconnect with the kids than by going somewhere that their cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices are void of reception? Plan a weekend (or longer) trip to a nearby state park and then leave the electronics home and enjoy the hiking, swimming, and overall relaxation that come courtesy of Mother Nature.
3. Star-gazing. Whether you’re sitting on lawn chairs (made locally from driftwood) in the backyard or heading to the desert to witness an astronomical event in all its glory, gazing at the heavens can be a lot of fun for the whole family. Check out the calendar on earthsky.org to find out when meteor showers, planetary sightings, and other notable events are occurring.
4. Community gardening. If you’ve had a lot of fun in the past creating your own organic produce in your backyard, why not spread the love by starting a community garden? You can petition the city to loan you an empty lot (or other unused public space) and then get your neighbors involved in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the garden. It will beautify your area, contribute oxygen for breathable air, and best of all, provide the community with fresh, organic produce.
5. Day at the lake. Forget about the community pool; it goes through gallons and gallons of water each day due to splashing and evaporation, it demands energy for heating, and it is so full of chlorine that you can practically feel it invading your lungs (there’s a reason so many serious swimmers suffer from asthma). Instead, head to a nearby lake with your toxin-free beach toys, PABA-free sunblock, and a couple of picnic baskets filled with tasty, organic goodies. It will probably cost less than taking the kids to the public pool for the day and it’s a heck of a lot better for their health and the state of the environment.