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Environmentally Friendly Activities for Kids: Plant a Tree!

Washington Youth Garden

By Jackie Edwards

Fun Conservation Activities for Kids

Statistics have shown that the national tree cover in the US across urban and community spaces now stands at 42.2% which is a decrease from 42.9% over five years. Tree loss and the gradual decrease in the size of forests is a global problem. And the even sadder fact is that we are all affected by the loss of tree cover in the world even if we do not contribute to it. Without doubt, big corporations and industries have the largest negative impact on forest cover and are the biggest danger to our trees. However, we cannot wait for corporations to change without doing anything ourselves, we need to join the whole Washington community in activities and programs that are dedicated to conserving the environment. Conservation is immensely important and it is necessary to get our kids involved early on.

Getting Kids Excited About the Environment

The thing with tree cover loss or the rampant deforestation of our forests is that it doesn't just affect those responsible for it but everybody else as well. And the impacts themselves are devastating not just for the present but for the future. You can link the gradual loss of our forests to reduced water levels across the globe as the catchment areas are degraded. It can also be connected to the changing weather patterns and the increased carbon dioxide levels in the environment which contributes to global warming. However, not all hope is lost as there are a number of conservation measures implemented across the globe that are credited with forests flourishing despite the degradation. However, there is still room for more to be done and this is where kids come in.

Teaching Through Art

The first step in any successful move to get kids to be more environmentally conscious is to help them understand the importance of the environment. While this can be done at school, or even through flyers and nature shows, this is not enough to truly connect them with the environment and conservation on a personal level. One way to bridge this gap is through art. This can be used for children across all ages. A good example would be to ask to create a play on why trees are important or to make a painting of how trees make the world better.

Set Up a Tree Planting Drive

Planting a tree is one of the best ways for kids to learn the value of trees. It creates a sense of connection with a tree which ultimately creates more concern for trees in general. To make the exercise fun, you can pair it with a scavenger hunt around the area you’d be conducting the drive. You can place facts about trees and forests around the area and have kids look for them. You can then offer prizes to those who can find and remember most facts and bonus gifts to those who had more facts to bring. This should make the drive both fun and informative.

Valuing trees is one of the greatest lessons we can teach kids today. Raising a generation that values its environment will ensure that the state of the world’s natural resources improves.

Guest Spotlight: Eco-Friendly Gardening Checklist

Washington Youth Garden

By: Dalton West

For many people, gardening is a quiet, relaxing hobby that helps them feel closer to nature. However, many gardening practices don’t positively affect nature to the extent we may believe. For example, Americans use nearly 7 billion gallons of water per day on landscape irrigation, which is about one-third of all the water Americans use each day. Using that much water puts a strain on water supplies and impacts natural resources in other areas. Gardeners also impact the environment in unintended ways by planting non-native plant species, which can affect populations of local plants and even wildlife.

Eco-friendly gardening is becoming more popular as people across the country look to enjoy the benefits of gardening while reducing the harmful effects it may have on the local ecosystem. Through careful planning and good habits, backyard gardens can be a boon to the environment as well as their owners’ mood and well-being. A rain barrel can be kept close by to collect rainwater for watering a garden without depending on outside water supplies, for example. Planting certain types of wildflowers also can help attract birds and helpful insects that can eat harmful pests, which reduces the need for chemical pesticides.

Environment-friendly gardening is easy and just as much fun, while having the added benefits of helping preserve the ecosystem. The tips in the accompanying checklist can help you practice eco-friendly gardening in your backyard. Take a look and see what you can do to make your garden more of a help to the environment

Kids Activities for the Colder Months: Eco-Friendly Furniture

Washington Youth Garden

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By: Jackie Edwards

Teaching Kids How to Craft Eco-Friendly Garden Furniture

Building with blocks and other play materials helps children develop gross and fine motor skills while also improving cognition and creativity. Seeing as only 62% of high school students in DC complete their secondary schooling in four years due to lack of resources and creative outlets, this seems especially important. Why not turn construction play into real construction? Allowing children to craft their own eco-friendly garden furniture will add a special touch to the garden's atmosphere and help make the space more comfortable. When used as a learning exercise that incorporates the benefits of gardening, crafting eco-friendly garden furniture is a great way to develop life-long skills while also promoting sustainability.

What Kids Should Understand about Eco-Friendly Furniture

Teaching kids how to make sustainable furniture will not only lay a great foundation for construction skills, but it is also a good way to encourage an understanding of sustainability and recycling. Sustainable furniture is made from materials that may be recycled, re-purposed or easily replaced, such as bamboo, which grows back quickly. Once children understand this basic concept, you might ask them to go around the garden, yard or a nature reserve and try to find sustainable materials that could be used in the construction of furniture.

Deciding on the Perfect Type of Furniture to Build

After cultivating a thriving, vivacious garden, encourage children to take a look at the layout and ponder what types of garden furniture would fit within the space. You can make a lot of furniture out of semi-constructed materials such as pallets, which can be a more practical option if you are trying to do this activity with younger children. This is actually one important aspect of sustainability that children should learn about. Ensure that they understand that any furniture that increases efficiency by providing greater utility allows them to use fewer materials, take up less space and solve more than one problem.

Safely Constructing the Garden Furniture 

During this process, try to use as many natural materials as possible, since they will be safer for both the children building the furniture and safer for the environment. For a simple project, you can craft a “green railing” that uses slim planters to create a short railing around a patio or deck. If you are going to look for green building materials, you can ask around at local construction stores in order to recycle what they might be throwing out. You can also do things like making homemade lanterns that hold candles instead of using lights outdoors, or even create rainwater buckets to catch and save rainwater. Building eco-friendly furniture for a garden doesn’t always have to mean creating furniture to sit and lounge on; the more creative you can get, the better!

Like gardening, learning how to craft is a great way for children to participate in sustainable hobbies that benefit the environment and allow them to learn skills that benefit their development. Creating eco-friendly garden furniture can be a fun activity for the whole family or an after-school activity that fosters creativity and gives kids a chance to create something they’re proud of.