The summer is the perfect time to take it easy and offer your kids some fun and eco-friendly activities. My kids love the traditional kids' toys or activities and let's face it, they are often not the most eco-friendly activities. Over the years I have found some earth-friendly alternatives to some of the most popular summer pastimes as well as a few other eco-friendly activities to entertain them!
1. WATER BALLOONS
My kids LOVE water balloons. The eco-friendly conscience person in me hated using them (and lets face it, picking up the tiny shrapnels from the grass!). My kids would see the tiny balloons in the store, never failing to ask why they can't ever have them. This past year, I was finally able to say YES to the water balloons when I came across reusable crocheted water "balloons" on Etsy, sold by Miss Crazy Handmade! I gave each of my kids 3 of the crocheted balloons and a bucket of water. Once the bucket was empty, refilling it continued the fun for several hours!
While I wouldn't consider the popsicle itself directly harmful to the earth, they do produce waste in the form of packaging and frankly, I don't often care for some of the ingredients included in them. Ever since my kids were little, we have made it a summer tradition to make popsicles. We'll use organic juice or puree our own fruits. Sometimes, we'll even stick chunks of whole fruit in there for a frozen surprise! I was given several sets of plastic popsicle molds long before I had kids, but if you need to buy some Amazon.com sells a variety of molds from plastic, to silicone and even some stainless steel ones. If you prefer recipes for popsicles, Pintrest is your best friend. I found a tasty yogurt-based recipe on there we had to try!
Producing your own food is probably one of the most earth-friendly activities you can do. Not only do you know where your food comes from, but you also control what is put on your food, how it is grown and reduce the carbon footprint of transporting the food from farm to table. Whether you have your own garden or volunteer at your community garden, working in the ground and with the plants is good for the soul. Now that school is out, it is the perfect time to involve your kids in the gardening process. my kids both enjoy helping plant seeds, water, and harvest. Nothing warms my heart more than my kids running out back and picking cherry tomatoes to snack on from our garden. Often times the garden is tended to when they are at school, but during the summer I can teach them the techniques I use to protect the plants from animals and diseases. If you don't have space or time for a full-size garden, planting a few herbs or vegi's in containers around your patio is a great alternative. Herbs are typically easy to grow and require little maintenance. Still not keen on gardening? Visit your local farmers market for locally grown produce!
4. UPCYCLE CRAFTING
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Sometimes it isn't possible to reduce our carbon footprint, so reusing is the best option. I prefer to have useable upcycle projects for my kids to participate in (otherwise the craft still winds up un the recycle bin or trash can). We have upcycled cans and jars into flower pots (we planted the indoor thriving Golden Pothos), old discarded terra cotta pots into bird feeders, shirts into reusable bags, the options are endless!
5. MAKE A SOLAR OVEN
This has to be one of my most favorite projects we did. Unfortunately, I cannot find the pictures I took when we did this project.
We created a solar oven using the method San Diego Family wrote about. We used an old pizza box, but a donut box with one of those clear plastic windows would work wonderfully for this as well.