Earth Day 2018 :: Making a Difference (Plus Crafts!)

As your local crunchy mama, I’m here to tell you the exciting news: Earth Day is April 22nd this year (and every year — ha)! 

YAY!

This year I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to learn about our planet and how our trash impacts not only our bodies, but the environment around us. Today I’ll be sharing some things I’ve learned, along with fun crafts for you and your kids to do this Earth Day!

Facts About Plastic

  • The FDA has no regulation for how many chemicals can be released in products that are wrapped in plastic.
  • BPA is not the only Estrogenic Activity (EA) chemical you need to worry about. There are up to 90% of EA chemicals in all plastic, most of which are made for children (think bottles, toys, food).
  • Latex, Silicone, and Styrofoam ALWAYS test positive for EA chemicals.
  • By the year 2050, there will be more plastic than sea life in our oceans.
  • The U.S. alone contributes an estimated 38 billion single-use water bottles to landfills in just one year.
  • In certain oceans “Micro-Plastic” (plastic that has broken down to tiny pieces) outweigh plankton 2:1.
  • The U.S. goes through around 2 million plastic bags a minute with the average use time being only 12 minutes.
  • We’ve made more plastic in the last ten years than in the last century.

Check out the facts here.

Easy Lifestyle Switches

  1. Use a reusable shopping bag. I keep a small reusable bag in my purse at all times because I forget to bring my bigger bags with me sometimes. If that’s the case for you too, swing by Whole Foods and grab a reusable bag that comes folded up in its own pouch and keep it in your purse or diaper bag. 
  2. Opt for a bamboo toothbrush and a safety razor. Toothbrushes and razors are some of the biggest sources of waste. These things never break down and are un-recyclable due to the combinations of materials used. Blades for the safety razor run at just around $1 per blade! You can grab a five pack of blades for just under $3 (and they last twice as long)! Grab a refill pack here.
  3. Invest in non-plastic reusable cups and bottles.
  4. Reuse your glass containers. Whether baby food containers or the jar you got your salsa in, there are loads of ways to use empty glass containers. 

Learn Together

Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube all offer documentaries and movies about keeping our planet healthy! Have a fun movie night where you and your kids can learn about our wonderful Earth!

  • For younger children, movies such as Wall-E and Fern Gully do a great job of teaching about the effects our waste has on life around us in a way that is fun and fanciful, while also being entertaining for little minds.
  • For older children, documentaries on Netflix such as Mission Blue and Plastic Ocean break down facts into bite-sized pieces, while using science to show how much plastic affects our entire world.
  • For the whole family, BBC has made numerous documentaries on our wonderful planet, my favorites being Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, Blue Planet, and Blue Planet II. 
  • For those of you who can handle a bit more graphic imagery, I also recommend Racing Extinction on Hulu.

Check Out Your Neighborhood

Birmingham offers a wide variety of different types of shops and local non-profit and for-profit centers that can help you and your family reduce your waste! Shop your local farmers markets, such as The Market at Pepper Place or Woodlawn Street Market. Shop the bulk section at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and The Golden Temple. Ask your local church if they’ll be hosting a farmer’s market this summer. Also, check out Facebook and Etsy to see if there are any local upcycle shops in your area (such as earth creations and SunriseSeams).

If you’re a newbie like me, check out Alabama Environmental Council and visit their RecycAL center where you and your littles can learn all about recycling! At the center you can see what things can and can’t be recycled, along with pulverized glass, and a mountain of cardboard you can climb!

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Earth-Friendly Crafts

Bird Feeder from a Plastic Bottle:

  1. Find a plastic bottle, (If it’s not a water bottle, make sure to wash it out first!)
  2. Gather your supplies. You’ll need scissors, rope, bird seed, and a stick. Remember, if you don’t have something, ask a friend!
  3. Mom: cut two slits into the bottle, near the bottom. This will be where the stick goes. Then cut two openings in the middle of the cup, which will be where the birds get the seeds. Kids: While mom cuts the bottle, go on the hunt for the perfect stick for birds to perch on!
  4. Once the holes have been cut, insert the stick through the two bottom slits. 
  5. Fill bottle with yummy seeds.
  6. Attach the rope to the top of the bottle and then find the perfect tree branch to hang it from!
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Biodegradable Egg Carton Starter Seeds

  1. Next time you buy eggs, grab some in a cardboard package and buy some starter seeds.
  2. Once your eggs are gone, cut holes in the bottom of the carton, and cut the carton by what seed you’re growing (don’t forget to label your sections!)
  3. Grab some potting soil (or borrow some from a friend) and cover the bottom half with soil. Let your kids poke holes into the center to create a pocket for the seeds. 
  4. Place your seeds into the pockets, then gently cover the seeds with a bit of soil.
  5. Water the seeds and place them in the perfect spot (make sure to check the back of the packet to see what kind of sun your seeds need.)
  6. If your seeds are indoors, make sure to place something under the carton to catch the water.
  7. Once your seeds begin to sprout, bury the whole thing in your garden (the egg carton is biodegradable and safe to bury)!
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DIY “Plastic Wrap”

  1. Swing by your favorite health store and pick up some beeswax.
  2. Find something cotton you don’t mind cutting up (it can be an old t-shirt or pretty fabric from a fabric store).
  3. Cut up your fabric into various sized squares/circles (make sure they’re big enough to wrap food items in, such as an apple or a sandwich, or to cover the top of a mixing bowl).
  4. Place your fabric on top of some parchment paper. Then with your cheese grater, grate the beeswax onto your fabric (it should look like cheese on a pizza). The more beeswax you add, the stiffer the fabric will be.
  5. Once your fabric has a nice covering of beeswax, take a second piece of parchment paper and place it on top of your fabric.
  6. Then iron the fabric (keeping both pieces of parchment paper in place).
  7. Remove the parchment paper and enjoy your reusable (and washable) “plastic wrap”!

**Pro-Tip: Add a base oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil to create a more slick surface before you iron. If you don’t have an iron or parchment paper, follow the same steps as above, but place your beeswax covered cloth on top of an aluminum foil covered pan and place inside the oven at 350 degrees for about one minute; let cool and harden.

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Have fun celebrating Earth Day with your families!

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