Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hunt For Water

This week is full of opportunity to have fun with your children while they hunt for water! This game is such a great way to introduce awareness and action to your children while they help the environment.

Water is sadly wasted everyday. We are not always paying attention to what is around us to see how water is being wasted in small and large ways. Ask your children to try to find ways to save water everyday this week and weekend.

For example, do they hear any leaks in your house? That kitchen faucet in the middle of the night? If so, your child can inform you of one successful find on this Hunt for Water and you can get that leak fixed.

Another great example is for your child to keep an eye out while you are on a trip this weekend for any wasted water, such as those large fountains in the middle of malls, plazas, and especially found in Las Vegas. Hopefully these fountains continually use the same water, but might it be better to use that water for another purpose. Your child can be a detective on the Hunt For Water by speaking with the manager at the location of the fountain to find out if this water is reused and if there might be a better purpose for that water. This teaches your child advocacy skills as well - of course you will be with your child to help with this conversation. Your child can even write a letter if s/he is not ready to speak up at this point in their development.

Another example is unfinished food thrown in the trash. It is estimated that uneaten food wastes more water than gardening and washing combined. The amount of water it takes to grow vegetables, fruit, nourish cows, etc... is much more than we know. When we don't finish our food and throw it out, we are wasting all of that water. Your children can help on the Hunt For Water by ensuring the grocery list has only what will be eaten, finishing their meals with portion sizes they can manage, and donating any food to those in need rather than throwing it out. Composting can help to turn leftover produce into a help for the earth as well.

So, now that you have some ideas, get started and see what else your child finds on the Hunt For Water this week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Hour is Upon Us!

Celebrate Mother Earth by turning off your lights tonight at 8:30pm on March 26th! Wherever you are, at 8:30pm on 3/26, turn off your lights for one hour. Last year, Earth Hour was celebrated by 128 countries and lights went out at major symbolic places such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.

This is an impetus, a point of change for each of us. This is a great way to introduce your children to ways to help the earth. We can use this hour to reflect on how we can help Mother Earth everyday. Some simple examples include: using less electric during the day, using cotton tote bags instead of plastic, walking or bicycling to work or the store, and gardening for your veggies and fruits. Just adding one of these to your year ahead will make a huge difference when it is multiplied by the millions of people in the United States and the billions of people around the world.

Check out Earth Hour and WWF Earth Hour for more info!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Greener Veggies and Fruit

Now that you have completed your new and improved grocery list with items that are earth-friendly and delicious, it is time to learn about how to keep those fruits and veggies healthy for you and your family. A rotten apple can spoil the bunch!

Organic is the way to go! Try to find organic produce, especially ones that are more absorptive to chemicals and pesticides even after washing, such as: nectarines, spinach, potatoes, pears, apples, peaches, strawberries and bell peppers.

Second, if buying organic produce is too expensive for your budget, then grow your own! We are now into Spring and it is time to research your climate and find out which produce will grow best in your area. You will find that growing your vegetables and fruit organically is not at all difficult. Introduce ladybugs into your garden so they can eat aphids and mealybugs, and plants onions around your garden to keep away gophers and moles. No need for chemicals at all! You will harvest more fruit and vegetables than your family can even eat in one season which means you have saved a ton of cash by growing your own.

Third, and just as important, eat the fruit and veggies raw. Cooking and boiling vegetables and fruit takes most of the nutrients and vitamins right out of them. If you cook, then try steaming or grilling for a very short period of time to keep in as much of the healthy parts of the produce as possible.

Enjoy your healthy veggies and fruit this week!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mission Green Food Week!

Green food does not refer to wheat grass, broccoli, or even "green eggs and ham." Rather it means seeking out ways to feed yourself and your family in earth-friendly ways. This week we will explore how easy it truly is to eat green food.

For Monday, take one simple step - create a shopping list that includes the following:

1. Foods with no or little packaging - for example, cereal, grains, oats and beans from a bin or barrel straight into your own cloth bags. Sprouts and local food co-ops sell grains, cereals, nuts and beans in large bins from which you can scoop or pour what you need into one of your eco-friendly totes.

2. Produce from your local farms - visit those farms or catch them at the weekend farmer's market to grab some delicious organic tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, apples, and other vegetables and fruit that will make your mouth water.

3. Get those glass milk bottles back - you will be amazed to find that there are one or more milk delivery options for your town. Google search your town's name and the words milk delivery to find out which local businesses deliver organic milk to your door in glass bottles, and then pick up those bottles to use again. These companies sterilize the bottles for reuse and by doing so cuts down on the millions of cardboard boxes and plastic containers that are used every year for milk. One could argue that the carbon emissions created by the delivery of the milk is indeed a problem itself, but with the coming of the electric vehicle that will help in time.

Stick with these 3 items for your grocery list planning this week and feel better knowing that you are eating healthier produce, supporting your local farms, and cutting back on unnecessary packaging.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Family Time Continues

Especially in light of the crisis in Japan, I can think of nothing more important to encourage than to spend time with your family. Our families are the core of our lives. In looking at the news, I see husbands searching for their wives, parents searching for their children, and people who know that in a moment of absolute crisis, the only thing that truly matters is family.

So, simply, share time with your family this week. Laugh, play, draw, sing, be loud, be quiet, be yourselves and enjoy each other. Please don't just limit Family Time as a mission for this week, keep this as a core value of your daily life every week of every year.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Family Garden Time This Weekend!

Gardening with your children is a wonderful way to teach them values of compassion, respect and care. They will also love getting their hands dirty and planting colorful blooms! While gardening with your children you can teach them math skills, work on their fine motor skills, help them to identify colors and learn names of plants. The learning opportunities are endless when working in the garden with your children!

This weekend, if you don't already have Family Garden Time, then it is time to start! Simply find a good area of your yard to do some planting. Be sure to check out which produce grows best at certain times of year in your climate. The following link will help you with that at The Vegetable Garden.

Then, find out from your children which plants and fruit they would like best to plant by showing them pictures and asking them to choose their favorites, or by taking them to the Farmer's Market to identify which fruit and vegetables they think taste the best. Once you have your chosen seeds or seedlings, sketch out the plot to determine where and how many rows of plants you will have. If your child is old enough to help you with the math and drawing of this, then praise her for that!

Once you have your sketch, begin to plant! While you are planting be sure your children have little hats, sunglasses and gardening gloves and a shovel that are their size and kid-friendly. A great site for such products are at Gardening with Kids.

Your children will be excited to check in on and take care of their garden each day and especially on the weekends as you continue this Family Garden Time activity. Once the flowers bloom they can clip some for a vase in the house, or to give as gifts to teachers. Once the produce grows they can help to come up with and/or cook a meal with the delicious harvest or donate the fruit and veggies to neighbors or local soup kitchens.

Some great books to read to learn more about gardening with your children are below! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Family Time Tuesday

A wonderful green family activity to do together today is to sort through the items in your children's rooms that may no longer be used and ready for recycling or donating.

Make it a fun game for them. Set out three boxes, one for save, one for donate, and one for recycle. Talk with your children about how some people may benefit from the books or toys that your children no longer play with. The items that your children are attached to, but perhaps no longer use, can be placed in the save box and put in your home storage closet to be rechecked in a year for sentimental value at that time. This way your children know that they can keep certain things they aren't ready to part with.

The value in this activity is that children can feel good about themselves knowing they are helping to give toys and books and clothes to children in need. Also, you are teaching them how to organize and not waste what they have. This weekend, as long as it is safe for the age of your child, be sure you all go to the local homeless shelter, group home or Salvation Army to donate your children's items so that they can see how they truly are helping those in need.

This is also a great activity to do during the holidays when local firemen and police departments accept donations for Toys for Tots programs.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Green Family Time

Each day this week, make time for Mission Green Family Time!

For Monday, make up a little contest to see who in the family can find the most ways to save water.

Start the day, before your kids go to school with the idea. This will give them the opportunity to ask friends at school for ideas. Then, when they are home from school write down each idea they have come up with. Of course, practice those ideas that evening and from now on!

If your children are having a hard time, when they get home from school ask them to walk around inside and outside of your home to see where there is water. Then, ask them to think about how to save that water. For example, they might identify that water comes out of the hose. Ask them if there is a drip in the hose. Or ask them how many times a week the family waters the lawn and if the family could water less? The more active and interactive you make this game the more your children will enjoy and remember it!