Earth Day Resources for Your Family

images (15)

Today is Earth Day!
images (1)CitizenKid a series of books inspiring kids become global citizens has added a new book to its collection Planet Ark: Preserving the Earth’s Biodiversity. 

earthEnvironmentally Themed Movies for Families

images (12)Visit Recycle City a computer game from the Environmental Protection Agency

images (2)Read OxFam’s Grow Method and booklet Fighting World Hunger at your Table

images (3)Consider bringing TerraCycle to your school or business

images (4)Use Preserve Products: Nothing Wasted, Everything Gained.

images (5)The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation is dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water.


Visit my Creation Care Board over on Pinterest. I spent way too much time last week trying to gather the best of the best ideas.

Visit my friend Leslie’s DIY Pinterest board. Leslie is a talented crapter (she up-cycles regular stuff into fun crafts).

images (2)

Head over to the website The Story of Stuff Project. They have thought provoking videos about creating a sustainable world.

images (5)

Read the story of creation with your family.

Genesis Chapter 1: In the beginning… God created all we have. I think we have a responsibility to care for it!

Check out some the great earth day books for kids above: The Curious Garden, Compost Stew, Curious George Plants a Tree, Michael Recycle, The Magic School Bus Climate Challenge, Fancy Nancy Earth Day is Everyday, Biscuits Earth Day Celebration, Gabby and Grandma Go Green.  


What is your family really great at when caring for the earth? 

Give Back over the Spring Season!

spring giving

Spring is coming. (Not as fast as I hoped it would.) Dirty gray snow please melt away…

10 Easy Ways to Give Back over the Spring Season! 


1. My Family’s Favorite Spring Treat: Bird’s Nests, make them together and double the batch to share. Here is the recipe:

  • One 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme  
  • 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 can of chow mein noodles (3 cups)
  • 1 cup of chopped M&M’s Plain
  • Peanut M&M’s or other candy to fill the nest.

Combine the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and butter. Mix well. Add noodles and plain M&M’s. Fill the nests!


2. Spring Craft: Purchase some small, plain terra cotta flower pots. Get out paints and help your kids hand decorate the pots. Deliver them with a packet of seeds as gifts to others.


3. Try Composting: Read this guest article by my sister-in-law Jen for ideas of how to get started.

images (12)

4. Family Recycling Activity:  Explore Recycle City with the whole family. Make a list of ideas you can implement into your home.


Image courtesy of [Just2Happy], 

5. Plant: Take time to plant something new this spring a tree, bush, strawberry plant, seeds, a small flower.


6. Garden Donations: If you garden and have excess consider donating some of your crops. Sometimes churches allow members to offer their excess to other members. When you visit the farmer’s market this summer, consider dropping a gift off to someone who might need a little extra.

IMG_22727. Family Time is Important: Get outdoors together as a family: take a bike ride, a hike, a nature scavenger hunt, play in the beach sand, visit a new playground. Whatever you choose, do it together!


8. Did you know you could recycle this stuff? Spring clean with purpose. 

  • Paint. Habitat for Humanity Restores take latex paint to remix and resell. Find a location near you. 
  • Crayons. They can be recycled into new crayons. Learn more here.
  • Batteries. Visit Call2Recycle for a location near you.
  • Visit and type in any search for an object and see if there is a place to recycle near you.


9. Family Raking: Head out on a Saturday morning and clean up your yard as a family. While you have your work clothes on, help a neighbor or someone who needs assistance do spring clean up.


10. Deliver: Drop off a bouquet of spring flowers to a shut-in or someone who is ill. Set aside time to visit too.

How do you give back during the season of spring? 

World Food Day for Families

Oxfam USA World Food Day is October 16. Oxfam works together to end poverty and injustice around the World.

World Food Day is a great opportunity to serve as a family!

Our planet produces enough food for everyone, yet nearly one billion of us (1 in every 7 people) still go to bed hungry.

Your family can make a difference!


How can your family be involved? 

Learn about the Grow Method

Visit the Grow Method Page and read the booklet Fight World Hunger Starting at Your Table as a family.

Write down a practical application for each category that your family can work on.

Our family choose the following:

  • Save Food: have a leftover night where we try to use any and all leftovers.
  • Shop Seasonal: visit our local farmer’s market to learn what food is seasonal.
  • Less Meat: weekly have a breakfast for dinner night with pancakes and fruit, or beans and rice.
  • Support Farmers: visit our local’s farmer’s market for produce.
  • Cook Smart: work as a family to plan our meals for each week.

Visit Pinterest (Look a great excuse!)

Oxfam GROW method is on pinterest here. Follow their board. Look through the recipes as a family and choose a few to try together.

Do you use Instagram?

Post a photograph on October 16 of your World Food Day dinner. Tag the photograph with #WFD2012 and your photo will join others around the world. Visit the Oxfam website to see photographs from around the world.

A World Food Day Dinner Discussion Guide: 

Oxfam has a printable World Food Day Dinner Discussion Guide here. Use this free resource to guide your dinner table discussion. After the kids go to bed, parents can continue the discussion.

A Children’s Book Resource:

Hungry Planet What the World Eats By: Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

This book would be a great resource for a family story time after dinner. Beautiful photographs archive families all around the world surrounded by what they eat in a month’s time. Discuss the similarities and differences you recognize with each family.


Praise your kids for taking time to make a difference as a family. Make sure they know their efforts combined with others, do make a profound difference!


Terracycle is a company that seeks to eliminate the idea of waste. They take products that are difficult to recycle and make them into new products. Every product that is upcycled creates less energy to produce.

The website is easy to navigate

After you sign up you can download a free collection kit to get started. Here is a sampling of what you can recycle: candy wrappers, cheese packaging, chip bags, cell phones, cleaner packaging, drink pouches, personal care and beauty, scotch tape.

After you collect your objects you can download a shipping label and send.

Most brigades are free and will pay $.02 per unit of waste to your charity or school of choice. Recycle as a group and you can earn funds together! Like terracycle’s facebook page or join their twitter and you can be alerted to even more opportunities to earn extra funds for your school or charity. Also check out their contest page where you can learn about opportunities to earn even more funds! 

Lessons plans are available for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

A team of scientists and designers work on the products they recycle and upcycle. Some of these products make unique gifts. I liked looking through what they were able to create: fences, totes, backpacks, picture frames, park benches, picnic tables, bike racks, garbage cans.

The website also features two fun reads. Revolution in a Bottle: how terracycle is redefining green business and ReMake It! 



I think I am often not very conscious about how my decisions affect the environment.  So, I want to share one EASY way for consciousness to fit into your everyday life. Easy is good. I can do easy!

Last week I wrote about the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, I learned about the initiative on the back of a fruit bar box.  I can eat a lot of Popsicles (and ice cream, and junior mints).  Simple things are sometimes a revelation to me. Many products that we use everyday embody a commitment to being good stewards of resources. Often, if this is the case, they are proud of the efforts and display that on their products.  I encourage you to take a closer look at the things you use most often. Company websites will also share what they are up to and how you might become involved.

Another example is Stonyfield Farms, a part of preserve products.

They provide resources to recycle #5 plastics often not received in local recycling centers.  Their recycling efforts go into products like yogurt cups to toothbrushes and take-out containers to razors.

I love their tag line: Nothing Wasted. Everything Gained.

What products do you use because of their commitment to care for the Earth’s resources?  I’d love to feature more examples periodically. 

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

Part of our role in serving others is connecting people to resources.  I love learning about exciting initiatives that make a difference,  even better is being able to share these programs with others who might find their gifts aligning with something new. I hope we can keep learning about as many initiatives as possible so when the opportunity arises we can pass on information to others.

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation is a non-profit. They seek to plant and help others plant 18 million fruit trees across the globe. These fruit trees benefit God’s creation and also provide a healthy food source.

Their website:

Here are six programs they work through, maybe one will interest you:

  • Fruit Tree 101: planting at public schools
  • Communities Take Root: planting in community gardens and city parks
  • Fruit Relief: planting in low-income neighborhoods and international hunger relief sites
  • Reservation Preservation: planting at Native American reservations
  • Roots of Recovery: planting at Health Centers
  • Orchards for Animals: planting at Animal Sanctuaries

Provided on the website is an application download for anyone who might want to bring an orchard donation to their area or organization.

The Story of Stuff


The Story of Stuff Project is a website you will want to visit.

So many resources are available through their work.

The founder of the project, Annie Leonard has a book that is an informative read.

The byline: How our obsession with stuff is trashing our planet, our communities, and our health- and a vision for change. 

The Story of Stuff Project is best known for its easy-to-share videos.

  • The Story of Stuff’
  • The Story of Broke
  • The Story of Electronics
  • The Story of Cosmetics
  • The Story of Bottled Water

The website also offers curriculum for all ages.



Involving Family: Composting

A Guest Post by Pastor Jen Petersen

Under our kitchen sink are two containers.  Like any good Dutch home, the garbage can be found behind the left cabinet.  Behind the right, you’ll find a small bucket that used to be white.  Every once in a while, when my mom is over babysitting, she’ll scrub it back to its original shiny white plastic – I have no idea how she does it.

The bucket is now black on the inside.  For several years, we have used it as our compost bucket.  We fill it with coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit and veggie scraps from the kitchen, eggshells and the like.  And a couple of times a week, the bucket gets dumped in the large bins behind the garage.

We’ve been composting for about 5 years, shortly after we moved into our home.  My husband asked his parents if they might be able to get some old apple crates from his hometown.  They rented a trailer and hauled two wooden crates stamped with “Aebig Apples,” the old family apple farm, now sold off to other families.  (I’ve heard that old pallets work really well, too.)

Out of the two crates, we’ve created three separate sections – one that’s compost ready to use, one that’s resting and turning to be next years usable compost, and one in which we are currently collecting our kitchen scraps and yard waste.  Jeff and our two boys turn the compost with a pitchfork throughout the year and each year we harvest enough compost to feed our small back yard garden.  This winter they even built a snow compost man in front of the bins!

Our boys (5 and 3) are wholehearted partners in this composting endeavor.  In the kitchen, they know which items go in the compost bucket, which items go to recycling and which items go in the garbage.  They have, on embarrassing occasions, scolded grandparents (and once or twice even friends we were visiting) for not composting.

And, while we don’t encourage our children to shame our loved ones, I have to say that I’m kind of proud of them for wanting to teach others how to compost.  I’ll say it – I’m a little proud of the fact that, with our family of four, we rarely fill our large City of Grand Rapids garbage bay in a week.

And I also recognize that we have a lot of room to improve.  Eli is in Kindergarten at C.A. Frost Environmental Academy in Grand Rapids.  I’m grateful for a school that will teach my children care for the earth.  I know there will be plenty of times that my children will scold me for my less than stellar practices toward the earth.

Composting allows our kids to learn that all trash is not useless.  They already have a sense that some waste can be reused and some waste just takes up space.  They are learning that, if we want our earth to give us good food, we have to feed it and care for it.

And it’s really not too hard to get started.  All you need is a container with some room for air to flow through and a way to turn the compost.   You need a balance of green (kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc) and brown matter (dried leaves and other similar yard waste, soil, etc.) and you need to keep in moist.  Done properly, compost doesn’t stink or attract animals.  The piles develop a rich earthy smell of dirt, but they shouldn’t smell rotten.

I’m certainly not an expert on composting.  I encourage you to check out your local garden center or recourses on-line for more complete instructions on composting.  This site has lots of good information:


Family Recycling

I love recycling.  I don’t know why.  It just is so simple.  Every time I put something in the yellow city recycle bags I feel like such a good person. I like to feel like a good person. Even when I’m struggling, I can always rinse out my yogurt cup and be like, hey, I’m making difference by throwing this in a yellow bag!

For the last ten years of my adulthood I have been throwing away prescription bottles. Why? I was scared someone standing in the recycle line might see what medicine I was taking. Or maybe robots did the recycling and they would transmit all the label information into the universe or something.  One day, I thought, maybe the label is not so hard to peel off. Guess what? It came right off! Hey, I’m throwing my prescription bottles in this yellow bag!

This is the best part about recycling. Hey, will you please clean up your floor full of  “tickets” for the stuffed animal show?  Hey, will you throw the one hundred pairs of socks under your bed down the laundry shoot? Hey, what about all the dried out carrots under the couch? The animal cracker trail to your bed?  The Legos all over my bed? How about you take this milk carton and put it in the recycling bag? Yes? Oh, I faint with joy. Kids love that yellow bag too. I’m telling you it’s a job they understand, take this finished object and put it in a bag to be re-purposed. Hey, I’m four and I’m making a difference!

I vow to keep finding new things to recycle and sharing them with you. There is no need to fear the recycling robots that sort our goods.

Seems families can feel really happy together when recycling visit here:

This is the National Institute of the Environment Kids Page.

You can play a game called Recycle City together.

If you have an Adobe Shockwave player plug-in you can play a game called Dumptown! I don’t have that. I wish I did, because Dumptown is a really funny name for a game.

Hey, way to go recycling each day! You are a good person and a good family!