Can you believe it’s already February? Last year seemed like the longest year and yet it also flew by so quickly! With February already in full swing, there are lots of things we can do this month to kick start our goals for an environmentally friendly New Year!
VALENTINE’S DAY– Yes, yes, I know most people think this holiday is a marketing ploy, and I gotta admit, brands probably make tons of money for this holiday. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, I think it’s a fun tradition to begin or continue with your children. The colors of Valentine’s Day is quite festive – reds, pinks, lavenders, and even blues. But how do we make this holiday more eco-friendly? Candy wrappers are bound to be thrown into the trash along with other plastic and not so easily recyclable items. Here are some tips to keep it eco-friendly:
Send e-gift cards. This might seem less sentimental, but you don’t have to send gift cards to only your significant other. You can send them to your friends, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, teachers, and the list goes on! Electronic gift cards are fast and don’t require any shipping via mail or using those pesky unrecyclable plastic cards.
Purchase locally grown flowers or from family-owned farms. Locally grown flowers require less carbon footprint to ship and flower farms owned by small families usually have more unique and fresher varieties.
Try making a vegetarian feast for Valentine’s Day with these dishes: – Exotic mushroom pasta by using oyster mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, or Enoki mushrooms. You can find the more exotic versions at Asian grocery stores and natural grocery stores. – Heavenly Layer Dip, which uses red tomatoes, red bell peppers, sour cream, light shredded cheese, olives, and strawberry jam (or any berry flavored jam). – Chocolate covered fruits such as chocolate-covered strawberries, peaches, mangoes, or any other unique fruits.
Most children love to be spoiled on Valentine’s Day! Gift them with homemade heart shaped cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries and mangoes, and a special trip to a local zoo or museum (if they are open in your area).
CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR – This year is the Year of the Ox so it’s important for those born under the Ox sign to be especially aware. Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is a huge celebration every year. But with the pandemic and safety concerns in mind, families might have to celebrate with only their immediate household. Traditionally, there are parades, firecrackers, and huge family and friends gatherings, so you would have to see what your state, country, and city have restrictions on. To make it eco-friendly this year, here are some tips:
Red envelopes are traditionally given to children or unmarried young folks. It’s still okay to give cash as cash is a recyclable and reusable commodity.
Celebrate the traditions of Chinese Lunar New Year by reading books. There are some great books that children can read to learn all about this holiday. Include books with pictures to make them more festive.
Decorate with paper decorations. Red is the traditional good luck color for the new year. You can find paper decorations at specialty Asian stores to decorate your house with.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH – During Black History Month, it’s a great way to teach children about historical and iconic leaders who helped change the world. Purchase books with pictures that can be read every year.
VEGANUARY – The month of January was to celebrate Vegetarians and Vegans. But we could still continue with this tradition through February. Try to include at least one vegan or vegetarian meal during the week. Vegetarian dishes are fairly easy to make and don’t have to be just salads. You can make vegetarian pasta, vegetarian soup, and vegetarian tacos. Reduce the amount of animal protein to up to 3 times a week. Meat production is one of the largest polluters in the world and one of the biggest hidden pitfalls in carbon dioxide consuming our planet.
CAMPUS CLEAN UP – Depending on where you live and the safety protocols at your school, you can host a campus cleanup day. With the permission of the school principal, teacher, or an environmental club, pick a day where students can go around the school campus to pick up trash and or/pick weeds. A campus cleanup day promotes environmental awareness of trash and how students can help keep our schools and communities clean. Be sure to wear gloves while doing the cleanup.
SPRING PLANTING – With the spring season sneaking upon us, now is the best time to start your indoor seed planting. When you plant your own vegetables and fruits you get the full quality of your bounty and children can learn the growing process from seed to harvest to eating them! Easy plants for children to grow include: Peas, beans, beets, carrots, radishes, and sunflowers. Planting your own garden also helps with cleaning the atmosphere, reduces carbon footprint, and promotes healthier eating. Start by planting the seeds indoors and then transplant them outdoors when it’s warmer.
Start off the year with a goal to be more environmentally conscious in everything you do and buy. Take small steps if you’re just starting out and soon you’ll become an advocate for the planet!
*photo courtesy of Arbor Day Foundation, Food&Wine magazine, KidsGardenNews
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