Saturday is Earth Hour- will you celebrate with us??

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20 SIMPLE IDEAS FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS TO HELP CHILDREN TO GO “BEYOND THE HOUR”, AND HELP SAVE OUR PLANET!

At the centre of the Earth Hour is the symbolic collective action of lights out on March 26.
Yet Earth Hour is about much more than just switching off the lights. It’s about switching to a more sustainable lifestyle. Being mindful, using less, making everyday choices to reduce our environmental footprint.

If you want your kids to be environmentally responsible when they grow up, you’ve got to teach them while they’re still young

Here are some tips for going beyond hour. Big or small, through all our efforts combined, these changes will help make a difference.

Turn off lights and appliances at the wall when not in use
Explain to children that lights, TV’s and computers use energy, and that it is in short supply! This is an easy way to reduce wasted energy and carbon. If you switch off just one appliance at the wall you could save 99 pounds of greenhouse gas! Ask your child if he can imagine what 99 pounds might look like, and show him/her some examples – like twenty 5 pound bags of potatoes!

Stop using plastic containers
Explain to your child that every bottle they throw in the trash sits in a big pile at the local dump. Have your child help you pick out fun, brightly colored refillable or reusable containers.

Make recycling fun!
Make recycling fun by inventing games such as tossing non-breakable recyclable items into trashcans at a short distance! Use recyclable materials in craft projects, for example use cardboard to make masks, or paper to make airplanes! Create art projects such as paper mache and mosaics. And donate discarded items to charity!

Have a candlelight family and grab a blanket if it’s cold!
Once a week, have a candlelight family hour and tell stories or play games instead of watching TV. And if it’s cold, wear an extra layer of clothes or snuggle up under a blanket to read books.

Use the sunlight to warm up a room
The house pet knows this and you kids will enjoy it too. Open blinds and drapes on a sunny but chilly day and enjoy the glorious warmth that pours in through the windows!

Close drapes and blinds when it’s too hot!
In the summer heat, turn down or off the air-conditioner to save energy by teaching children how they can keep from getting hot and sticky by closing the drapes and blinds to keep the room cool. They will enjoy their playtime better and parents will save money too!

Watch your water use
Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and of that, two-thirds is frozen in glaciers and polar ice-caps! Teach kids water-wise habits at home at a young age. Turn off the water while brushing teeth, take shorter showers, and no water-hose fights in hot weather!

Throw a green birthday party
Kids parties generate a lot of trash. Email invitations; choose reusable kid-friendly cups and plates; and create a craft activity for kids to take something home instead of wasteful goody bags.

Walk more
Walk to pre-school with your kids! It’s fun to spend the extra time with your children, great exercise and you save on gas too.

Take public transport when you can
Buses and trains ease congestion, reduce emissions, and allow you to relax with your kids. Relax and read a book together instead of driving the car!

Car pool
Double the efficiency of your car by carpooling to pre-school!

Buy earth-friendly back-to-school products
It’s always fun shopping for supplies. Choose recycled pencils and notebooks, PVC-free shoes, hemp backpacks, organic cotton clothes, or re-used clothing where possible.

Take a reusable cloth bag when you go shopping – decorate bags with your kids!
Did you know that American use 380 billion plastic bags every year? In addition to being manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels, plastic bags degrade extremely slowly. Buy a canvas bag, and decorate it with recycled items!

Buy local, seasonal produce
Take the kids for a fun morning out and buy produce at your local Farmer’s Market! Explain how far much of the food you buy has travelled before it reaches your table. Food produced locally costs less to process and transport, and it’s fresher and better for you.

Cut down on meat
Try to eat a little bit less meat by having the children help you to make one extra vegetarian meal each week. It takes only about 723 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of wheat, but 3250 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of beef.

Plant natives in the garden
Enjoy some fresh air with the children in the garden and plant native plants! Kids might like to have their own miniature size garden box to tend! Use native plants, they require less water, care and maintenance. Plus, you will be creating the ideal conditions to attract native species to your backyard or balcony by creating a habitat for them.

Start a compost
What kid isn’t fascinated with worms? Create a worm composter! Almost 75 per cent of household waste is compostable. Composting not only saves landfill space, but recycles material and saves money on fertilizers. Worms to speed up the process. Ask the children to fill the composter with food scraps and in a few months, they will see how the “garbage” becomes rich dirt they can help you spread around to make the garden grow.

Grown your own fruit and vegetables
Watching things grow is exciting! Reduce your footprint and have your kids help you grow their own veggies. Let them choose seeds, plant and tend them together. Fresh veggies are good for you and for the earth. No packaging and no food miles!

Install a rainwater tank
See how much rain you can catch! Secure your own water supply and collect water for use in the garden. Rainwater is free, so parents, that means a reduction in bills too!

Share your tips with friends!
Have a weekly contest with friends to see who did the most to help save the planet!

Earth Hour 2011 will ask the world to:
·      Switch off your lights for Earth Hour at 8.30pm, Saturday 26 March 2011 and celebrate your commitment to the planet with the people of the world
·      Sign up and Share stories of your actions that benefit the planet on earthhour.org <http://www.earthhour.org/>
·      Sustain your actions beyond the hour – www.beyondthehour.org <http://www.beyondthehour.org/>

In a bid to extend the message to young children and their caregivers, the Earth Hour organization has appointed the globally loved animated character Pocoyo as the first Global Kids’ Ambassador of Earth Hour, Beyond the Hour.  Pocoyo will reach out to millions of preschool-aged fans across the globe, fostering “Learning through Laughter,” to inform children about environmental issues.  
 
Parent and their caregivers can find a fun activity book, promo, screensavers and wallpaper at http://www.pocoyo.com/earth_hour_2011.html

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About the author: I’m a 30-something mom to three, brand ambassador. content creator, social media maven, blogger extraordinaire, earth lover, butcher, baker, candlestick maker (or something along those lines) – love word games, crafting, cake decorating or shooting pictures.

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