As parents, we have a lot of responsibilities towards our children. Making sure that they are fed, clothed and educated can be a time-consuming process on its own. One aspect of raising children that is sometimes overlooked is teaching them to give back to the community. There are many community-based projects that they can get involved with, but are there some that benefit the environment? Yes! If you are looking for a way for your child to give back to the community while also learning a valuable lesson about the environment, here are a few eco-friendly service projects that you might consider.
River Cleanup: One of the best ways to get kids to appreciate nature is to encourage your local school to get involved with cleaning up local rivers. Check out AmericanRivers.org for more information about the National River Cleanup project.
Plant a Butterfly Garden: Does your school have a garden area or a wild space that needs some attention? Consider collecting donations or hosting a fundraiser to plant a butterfly garden. Pollinators need all the help we can give them, and most kids love digging in the dirt. Once you have researched and purchased the plants, have the kids weed, plant and water regularly to keep the garden healthy.
Host a School-wide Garage Sale: Garage sales are a great way to find new homes for old items that may otherwise end up in the trash. Request that families bring their donations to the school so that the students can sell them to earn money for supplies, field trips, library books, etc. Older students can even work the garage sale with adult volunteers. At the end of the day, anything left that has not been sold can be donated to charity.
Sneaker Recycling Drive: One thing that kids go through a lot of is sneakers! Host a sneaker recycling drive and give those old sneakers a new life. Check out Soles for Souls or the Nike Reuse a Shoe campaign to find out where to take your donations. These organizations will either donate used shoes to underdeveloped countries or shred them to make playground surfaces.
Old Cell Phone Collection: Cell phones get upgraded on a regular basis and the old ones often get tossed in the drawer, never to be seen again. Old cell phones can be donated to a number of organizations to help the poor, elderly, victims of domestic abuse or other struggling individuals. By collecting and donating old cell phones, you keep them out of landfills while also providing to someone who really needs them.
Collect Used Holiday Cards: Card giving is popular year round, but those beautiful cards usually end up in the trash or recycling bin. Get your child's school, scout group or other organization involved in collecting used greeting cards. Send them to the Recycled Card Program and they will use them to create new cards that will be sold to earn money for a number of charitable organizations. You keep cards out of landfills AND help raise money for worthwhile organizations.
Do you have any other eco-friendly service projects to share?
Photo courtesy of Diane Hoffmaster.