I like celebrating Earth Day. It can be fun, colorful, and messy in an earthy grounding way. I never really feel like I have celebrated Earth Day until I clean some dirt out from under my nails, reminding me how much I love this planet. And I’m certain it’s the same reason why the spawnlings love Earth Day too. Choose any of our Make/Play/Watch/Read activities and I know the kids will join in. Though, word of advice, start with the seed bombs and wash your hands BEFORE doing anything else.
What Is “Earth Day”?
We shouldn’t need a special day to celebrate our planet, but looking around at the state of things, it’s kind of clear that we do. We need to take care of the Earth and we need to be reminded to do so. There are so many amazing achievements happening within environmental studies. I could spend the entirety of Earth Day geeking out about them and still not cover everything! That’s why we have Earth Day. It is a special day, supported by UNESCO as to celebrate and honor our one and only planet, Earth.
This year, the focus is on restoration. With so much loss over the years, it is time to look at how we can rebuild our work, supporting the natural regrowth and allowing our environment to recover. As an Australian, restoration is a big deal for us as we struggle to restore our bushland after the devastating bushfires in 2019/2020. The same can be said about the California wildfires, the horrific burning of the Amazon, and the deforestation happening all around the world. At least 2020 has shown us that recovery, restoration, and positive environmental change are achievable. For example, many cities have taken the downturn in tourism and made it an opportunity to restore their environments, supporting the planet and responsible development in the future. Earth Day is the perfect day to take this inspiration and make your own changes at home.
To learn more ways you can help with Earth Day, visit the official website with contacts and suggestions. If you are still in lockdown or self-quarantine, here are a few ideas you can do at home.
Make: DIY Seed Bombs to Restore the Earth (Well, Your Garden)
These are a simple and fun way to get your hands dirty! Seed bombs are also known as Bee Bombs because the majority of “bombs” include wildflower seeds which, in turn, will attract bees and other pollinators.
- Plain Flour
- Soil or potting mix (mix in a bit of compost to give it a boost)
- Mixing Bowl
- Seeds – Aim for seeds/plants indigenous to your local area, to support our native local environment, and not add to existing week problems. We want to restore our environment, not invade it
- Mix 1 part flour with 10 parts soil.
- Gradually add some water and mix slowly until it becomes a sticky dough. Take it slow because you don’t want this to be too soggy or it will never dry out as a “bomb.”
- Roll into small balls, about the size of a table tennis/ping pong ball.
- Line a tray with the seeds.
- Roll the mud balls around until covered with seeds. Repeat with the other mud balls.
- Leave the balls to dry in the sun for a day or two and then throw them in the garden.
You can make a few variations on this. For example, instead of rolling into a ball, try shaping into a small, shallow star or tree shape. Some recipes include shredded paper, however, I found the soil/flour mix helps the seeds to grow a lot better than the paper mix. Think of it as a helping hand with a dash of fun. And while I love the idea of throwing these everywhere for a bit of “guerilla gardening,” you will gain the best results if you crumble them over ready-to-go dirt. Don’t let this stop the kids from having fun and throwing their seed bombs all around the garden!
Play: Photosynthesis (Tabletop)
Once you have washed your hands thoroughly (clean hands at the table, thanks), practice your reforestation with a game of Photosynthesis, published by Blue Orange. This game is super popular and sells out quickly. Do not be afraid to ask your local game store to restock ASAP. This game has become such a hit, it is pretty much a permanent fixture on everyone’s “reorder” list.
Photosynthesis is a tabletop game designed for 2-to-4 players. It is a competitive turn-based game played across two phases. Action points are collected in the first phase (the “photosynthesis”), which are then used to trade for seeds, trees, or composting. The goal is to score points by taking your trees through a full life cycle, collecting when the largest tree eventually dies and is removed. For a full game review, check out GeekDad Jonathan’s review.
This game is beautiful to look at and beautiful to play. The artwork is gorgeous, with the kind of little features you might discover on a nature walk through the forest. The balance between strategy and accurate life-chart for trees is very good, with only a few questions from our hyper-observant 14-year-old biologist. What I especially loved was the mechanic of the sun moving around the board; it encourages you to think about the interaction between your trees and those around you. It also encourages you to space out your strategy, forcing you to… well, stop and watch the trees grow. Photosynthesis compliments the in-depth thought process we need to employ when we are considering restoration and reforestation. If you are looking for “what to play on Earth Day,” Photosynthesis will encourage some great discussion with your geeklings.
Side-note: Our 7-year-old prefers cooperative games over-competitive, especially with her older teenage brother who is obsessed with taking his parents down. Fellow GeekMom Jenn gave me the perfect suggestion with My Little Garden from Haba. Unfortunately, I am still hunting for a copy (also very popular)! I love the Haba range. The quality is always amazing, with heavy durable cardboard and solid-wood game pieces. Most of the games are designed to be introductions for kids to gaming, although our Haba games are still pulled out regularly by all ages. Jenn has a full review, and I am totally convinced to add this to Zaltu’s birthday list.
Watch: The Lorax (Netflix)
When I first heard they were adapting The Lorax from the book into a movie, I was initially confused as to how. I really didn’t think the book was long enough to warrant a movie.
I was wrong.
It is such a lovely movie with a full storyline and characters given the precious time to really flesh them out properly. It was never the blockbuster or award-winning movie we kind of expect from everything today. However, it is filled with a message of support, love, and care. A whole lot of care.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax
The Lorax is a 3D computer-animated film released back in 2012. The story starts with Ted, a 12-year-old boy who lives in Thneedville, a walled city with no real plants of any kind. They are all artificial. Ted has a crush on Audrey and wants to impress her with a “real tree,” but has no idea where to find one. Following his grandmother’s suggestions, Ted finds the Once-ler in the barren wasteland outside Thneedville. The Once-ler promises to tell him the story of the trees, but it must be over multiple visits. The stories feature The Lorax, the guardian of the forest who “speaks for the trees.” But alas, the Once-ler did not listen to the Lorax and now the region is uninhabitable, the trees are all gone. So how will Ted find a “real tree” for Audrey? Surely, there is no hope left… unless…
Yeah, yeah, I know and you know how this story goes, but the movie shows us in a way that is captivating and motivating. Every time the spawnlings watch this movie, they are energized to do more in the garden and local area. Now, the book is great! I love the book, a favorite regularly pulled down from the shelf. However, the movie has Betty White. Nothing beats that. (It’s worth reading GeekMom Corrina’s interview with Betty White to promote The Lorax.) As a complete package (plus Betty White bow on top), The Lorax is the perfect movie to watch on Earth Day.
Read: Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth by Rachel Sarah
GeekMom Sophie is preparing an amazing list of books to read for Earth Day (as she does every year). This year, I peeked over her shoulder and caught a glance at this one: Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth by Rachel Sarah. I fell in love immediately and needed it for me!
Over the last couple of years, I have attended a few protests with my kids, trying to make a difference with environmental action. There is plenty we already do at home and even more the kids are doing at school. The 11-year-old is especially focused on ways he can be more active in making a difference. Sometimes he believes adding his voice to a protest is the only way to make it loud enough to be heard. Sometimes he questions even that.
Whenever Nefarious feels lost and insignificant on this issue, I like to show him he is not alone. I like to show him the courage and actions of many kids just like him, some older, some younger. Girl Warriors has come at the right time, giving us a collection of bios for 25 amazing girls and young women who are striving to make a difference.
One feature I love is the organic nature in which this book was made. Sarah explains in the introduction how her list of activists grew from talking with each of them. When talking about their inspiration and motivation, the interview would mention another young activist, encouraging Sarah to reach out and learn more. They have created a network of brilliant people and subsequently expanded the network to include anyone who reads this book. It is such a powerful vessel of knowledge and encouragement, especially for reminding Nefarious (and all of us) how we are all part of something bigger.
Truth be told, GeekMom Sophie has a comprehensive list of books to read on Earth Day. Girl Warriors is simply one of many. Stay tuned closer to Earth Day for the complete list.
Earth Day has grown into a symbol of action and hope to honor our planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the impact we have on our environment, and, subsequently, the responsibility we must take for it. The theme for 2021 is RESTORE. All we have to do is give the Earth a bit of support.