By Mary Gadek, Master Gardener
FAMILIES: TAKE ACTION ON EARTH DAY
APRIL 22, 2022
Every April 22, the world celebrates the Earth and raises awareness about taking care of our environment. Kids of all ages can work together with their families and friends to make a positive impact on the environment right in their own gardens and communities.
Why do we need to act to help the Earth?
Climate Change – Climate change is the process of our Earth heating up. Not “it’s time to go to the beach!” heating up, but, instead, our weather has become more extreme and unpredictable. Events, like severe heat, droughts and floods, are hard on the survival of our plants and animals. Emissions from fuel from our usage of cars, trucks, machinery and power facilities all contribute to climate change.
Plastic Pollution – Plastic waste, from disposable water bottles to grocery store plastic bags, is ending up in our water all across the Earth. Marine wildlife end up eating the plastic, which is harmful to their bodies, or get tangled up in the plastic, making it difficult to function or even live.
Earth’s Unique Habitats and Creatures Are Vulnerable – When the planet fails to take care of itself, its different areas are negatively impacted. For example, it is estimated that about 15 billion trees in the world are cut down each year. Without trees, the earth has trouble cooling down and can cause the weather to change and be more extreme. Trees shade our homes to help keep us cool during hotter days, resulting in less energy use. Plus, trees can give shelter for many animals and insects. Bees and butterflies are insects that pollinate plants which other animals depend upon to eat. Also, bees pollinate over 35% of our farms for food we eat. Native bee and butterfly populations have been quickly diminishing each year so we need to take care of them.
Take ACTION in your own garden:
- Plan and plant a garden or even just one more plant in your yard. Every plant in your yard, whether in the ground or in a pot, contributes in a good way to the interconnected world of plants, insects and animals, called an “ecosystem”. See below the Earth Day seed paper project as a fun way to plant seeds in your garden. When planning a garden, consider plants that grow successfully in Minnesota and attract bees and butterflies to create a pollinator garden. This article provides more information on pollinator gardens in Minnesota.
- Make a plant-based Bee Hotel. In the Fall during yard cleanup, collect hollowed stems of dried plants and put them into a pile in sunny spots. Bees will winter in these natural shelters. In the Spring, the bees will emerge to buzz around your garden. Replace the hotels every Fall.
- Plant a tree. To help replace the billions of trees cut down every year, plant a tree in your yard to help the Earth and make your landscape more beautiful.
- Reduce. Use solar lights in your landscape, instead of electrically wired ones. Reduce the amount of water used on your lawn by paying attention to the weather: less if it rains, more if a drought.
- Reuse. When you buy a new plant, clean and save the plastic pot to reuse in the winter to grow plants from seeds.
- Recycle. Throw any unused recyclable products into the recycle bin. Using gloves, pick up garbage at your neighborhood park. Use a reusable drinking bottle, instead of disposable ones.
- Walk or Bike. Get some fresh air and exercise and walk or bike in your community, instead of driving in your car. Walking or biking lessens the emissions being sent into the air.
- Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. Grow your own fruit, vegetables or herbs in your own garden. By not driving to the store, you reduce sending emissions into the air. Bonus: In season, locally grown food is even more delicious because it is freshly picked and eaten right away.
- Buy local! If you are not able to grow your own food garden, buy from the local, community farmers’ markets. The farmers’ farms help create more oxygen in our air and their plants take in carbon dioxide, which is good for our air. Plus, driving shorter distances to distribute food, the farmers decrease climate change impacts.
- Be a Plant Advocate. Tell your neighbors about why Earth Day is important and how to take action. Make and give seed paper to spread the word!
READ these books to learn more about Earth Day.
Here we are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers. A beautifully illustrated children’s book showing all the Earth and how we need to be nice to it.
Dakota County Library: ISBN: 9780399167898. On Amazon at this link.
Every Day Is Earth Day by Harriet Dyer. A bright children’s book inspiring the readers to take action everyday like it’s earth day. On Amazon at this link.
DO: Earth Day Seed Paper Project
Supplies: 1 cup of scrap/shredded paper from your recycling bin; 4 shallow dishes; 1 cup water; 1 round cookie/biscuit cutter; heavy felt or thick, old towel; old sponge; vegetable food coloring; about 1 tsp of flower seeds (suggest using pollinator type plants seeds).
- Put the dishes on top of an old towel; Separate paper into 3 (of the 4) dishes.
- Add water, little by little, into each dish and combine with paper until fully wet and lumpy.
- Add 3-4 drops of blue food coloring to one dish with wet paper and combine. Do the same with green food coloring in a second dish. The third dish will be left without any coloring. Suggest: wear work gloves to avoid staining your hands.
- Set the cookie cutter in the fourth dish. Carefully take a pinch of the blue wet paper, squeeze dry and then squish into 2-4 different spots inside the cookie cutter. Repeat with green and plain wet paper.
- Sprinkle seeds on top of the paper circle.
- Take the sponge and push on the wet paper inside the circle until excess water has disappeared.
- Let dry for a few days. Make several of these and give to friends and neighbors as a way to celebrate our Earth!
- To grow the seeds, set in a pot of soil, seed side up and in a sunny spot. Spritz the paper with water to moisten it. Cover with plastic wrap until you see the first sprouts. Remove plastic and let the seedlings grow. Once the seedlings are at least 4-6” high, they are ready to plant in your garden.