If you’re a fan of nature and the environment, you’re probably already doing things to take care of the planet – on Earth Day and every day. This month, I’ve shared ways kids (and families) can help protect wildlife and oceans. Today I’m focusing on ways kids can help save trees.
Forests cover almost a third of the Earth’s surface, including some 700+ million acres in the U.S. alone. They’re home to a huge variety of plants and animals, provide people all over the world with food, fuel, medicine and more.
But perhaps most important, forests provide us with oxygen and ensure that the Earth’s temperature is livable. What can we do to return the favor? Here are some simple ways kids can help save trees.
1. Use paper wisely.
We can save trees from being cut down by using less paper. How can kids help?
- Make a space for reusable paper. Dedicate a spot in your home for paper that’s blank on one side. Then reuse it before you recycle it. Put the kids in charge!
- Use scrap paper (preferably recycled, too) for coloring, drawing, sketching, etc.
- Use both sides of paper (this one works great for homework).
- Use cloth napkins.
- Choose a reusable lunchbox instead of a paper bag, complete with reusable containers, metal utensils, a cloth napkin and a reusable water bottle.
2. Play and create with trash.
The Explorers love playing with cardboard boxes, empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls – even shoeboxes. Boxes can become forts and superhero headquarters, toilet paper rolls turn into binoculars and bird feeders, and paper towel rolls become spotting scopes and periscopes.
3. Borrow, share and donate books.
We read a lot around here, which translates into tons of books – and therefore lots of paper. The library is a great alternative to buying new, as are friends who are willing to swap books. Instead of holding on to books when your kids have outgrown them, donate them to a used bookstore, library or reading program.
4. Plant a tree.
Although planting trees is a popular Earth Day activity, fall is the season to plant trees and shrubs. Do your homework to make sure you pick the right tree for your space.
5. Visit the forest.
Our favorite way to pay homage to trees and forests is to spend time with them. Visit a local state or national park – many of which feature protected forest lands. During National Park week, admission to all 401 national parks is free.
6. Stay on the trails.
When you visit the forest, stay on marked trails. This will minimize your impact on wilderness areas, preserving them for future generations.
7. Get your Smokey on.
Remember Smokey the Bear? He’s still around, helping to prevent wildfires – which, by the way are one of the greatest threats to forests. Smokey’s message is worth repeating:
- Only you can prevent wildfires,
- Always be careful with fire,
- Never play with matches or lighters,
- Always watch your campfire, and
- Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it.
Resources to Help Kids Discover More About Forests
- Arbor Day Foundation
- Discover the Forest
- EcoKids (start with the tree planting basics)
- Smokey the Bear
Plus, a few things I’ve written about trees here …