Monday, April 22, is Earth Day; a day intended to inspire appreciation for and awareness of our earth’s environment. It is a great opportunity to teach our kids about the value of the earth and to instill respect for our natural world. It is important to make Earth Day meaningful and valuable to children. After all, the future of our earth is in their hands!

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The first Earth Day took place over 35 years ago, and concerns for the global environment has steadily grown since then — especially in the face of increasing pollution and environmental threats. However, recent studies have shown that today’s children are spending less and less time outdoors, which means they have less time to experience and appreciate nature firsthand.

Every day can be Earth Day if you are accustomed to incorporating earth friendly practices into your every day routine. However, if taking care of the environment is something you’ve only aspired to thus far, Earth Day is a great day to start.

Children have a special connection with the outdoors so teaching them about taking care of the Earth need not be hard. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

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• Sort the recycling. Explain to children why we shouldn’t throw everything in the trash and what fun things come out of recycled materials – yogurt cups become toothbrushes; tires become playground materials; and juice pouches become cool bags.

• Pack a waste free lunch for Earth Day. Use products such as reusable snack bags or containers instead of plastic bags or foil. Send a reusable water bottle instead of a juice box.

• Go to a park and clean up trash or help spruce up the picnic area.

• Visit a local farm and talk to your children about where food comes from and how it’s grown. Or pick up dinner from a Farmer’s Market. If there are any leftovers, try starting a compost pile.

• Start planning a garden to plant later in the spring.

• Decorate canvas bags to use for groceries instead of using plastic.

• Make pine cone bird feeders: Cover a large pine cone with peanut butter and birdseed, hang outside your window, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bird visitors as they feast. Or, try these adorable bird feeders that Commuter Mom made from our Mom to Mom Blog.

How will you be celebrating Earth Day 2013?

Bright Horizons Family Solutions has been around since 1986 and is now the world’s leading provider of employer-sponsored child care and early education. By managing child care centers for the world’s leading corporations, hospitals, universities, and government agencies, as well as community based centers, they take the guesswork out of the equation so that parents can focus on their jobs and their kids, not worrying about the gap between the two. For more information, visit www.brighthorizons.com

photo courtesy of the Bright Horizons facebook page