By Chais Gentner
Although kids have been anticipating it for the past 180 days, for parents, summer break is nothing to look forward to. Frantically trying to fill up your child’s day with something beyond naptime, TV time and snack time is difficult. However, if you include activities that are both fun and environmentally conscious, maybe summer break won’t be so challenging after all. Here are some tips to help your kids go green this summer!
Add Green to your Red, White and Blue
Stay away from disposable party ware this 4th of July and host an eco-friendly party instead. Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times! Instead, use a tablecloth you can wash and reuse and encourage your guests to bring their own plates and bowls to the party to cut back on waste.
Should you use propane or charcoal for backyard grilling? A recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review shows that “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.” Moreover, most U-Haul locations will refill your propane tank for less than $3.29 per gallon, which also cuts down on waste.
Involve the kids! Make American flags from recycled paper, create eco-friendly sparklers with directions from Crafting a Green World or bake with vegan ingredients.
Build a Solar Oven
Take advantage of the sun this summer by building your own solar oven for creating tasty treats. Try this science project that uses only household items and a pizza box. Make simple snacks like cheese rolls ups, chocolate fondue, s’mores, nachos, roasted apples with cinnamon and more. Your kids won’t want you to cook for them ever again! For full instructions, visit homesciencetools.com/a/build-a-solar-oven-project
Lava Tubes – Flagstaff
Flagstaff is the perfect summer getaway when you don’t want to go far to get away from the heat. A quick two-hour drive to the beautiful Ponderosa pine forest leads to one of Arizona’s own volcanic destinations. The lava tubes, located in Hart Prairie, include a 700,000-year-old tunnel filled with molten lava. During a mile-long hike through the tunnel, temperatures cool down to 35-45 degrees, even in the summer. Grab a few, cheap headlamps from Target for $12.99 before you go.
Create your very own floral journal this summer! Few wildflowers bloom in the Arizona summer because the rains are more sporadic and localized than during winter and the soil dries up from excessive heat. However, the rare ones that do blossom are worth seeking. Explore the Valley to discover and observe these flowers and note their habitats and origins: devil’s claw (proboscidea parviflora), Arizona poppy (kallstroemia grandiflora), firewheel (gaillardia pulchella), prairie zinnia, (zinnia grandiflora) and cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus). Jot down descriptions in your flower journal and try drawing your own sketch of each bloom. When you get back home, you can do your own internet research on each flower you were able to find.
Plastic Bag Hammock
Some of us are guilty of hoarding endless amounts of plastic grocery bags in our kitchen cabinets. You could drop them off for recycling, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, recruit your kids to make an innovative, summer project: Create a recycled hammock, made entirely out of plastic bags. This DIY craft needs approximately 500 plastic bags, so ask friends and families for donations if your collection is too small. You will also need two spring-link carabiners and six feet of rope. In simplest terms:
- Braid the bags
- Create side supports
- Attach hooks
- Make the back support
- Connect body pieces
- Knot the body of the chair
- Make the bottom support
- Connect the side pieces
For more elaborate instructions, visit instructables.com/id/Up-swing/
Recycled Succulent Planters
Recycling is vital to our life now and for our future because our planet has fewer resources every year. When planting your succulent arrangements, use an old paint can, soup can, mug or any other type of container as a recycled vase. Then get creative! Have the kids doodle on recycled paper and glue their drawings onto the recycled cans. Alternatively, use chalkboard paint to decorate the vase, then kids can use chalk to create new designs whenever they please. There are many ways to get creative when it comes to using recycled [materials. Challenge your children to be environmentally conscious in everything they do.
Find more green kids articles at greenlivingaz.com/greenkids.