Each year, April 22 is set aside as Earth Day, a chance for us to appreciate our planet and make sure it's still here for years to come. But at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, every day is earth day. Kathy Johnson, manager of teacher and student programs, says this year, we should make Earth Day about more than recycling.
"Get out and appreciate the best things about our earth," she says.
Here are some of her ideas for celebrating Mother Earth:
Go fly a kite. Maybe it's not as serious as visiting a recycling plant, but setting a kite aloft can be just as illuminating. Or hit the shores of Lake Michigan for some beachcombing-you never know what beautiful shells or sea glass you'll come across. "We can play with the earth," Johnson says.
Take a hike. Whether you head to the Botanic Garden or your local forest preserve, there's much to be seen this time of year. Johnson says to keep your eyes peeled for "spring ephemerals," wildflowers that show off before the trees have started to leaf out. Check a field guide out from your library and see what you discover.
Green your thumb. It's a little early to tend your tomato patch, but you can still try your hand at planting. Johnson recommends larger seeds for your kids' little hands such as the nasturtium, which produces vibrant flowers. "Things that have showy flowers make kids feel really proud of what they've done," she says.
Sing in the rain. If April 22 dawns wet and dreary, you're not off the Earth Day hook. Johnson says to pull that umbrella out of your hall closet and go for a walk to see worms wiggling in the dirt. "That's another way of experiencing the wonderful things about the earth," she says. And if you really hate the idea of getting wet, there are a bunch of greenhouses in the area to visit.
Team up. Take the opportunity to think about what you can do as a family to care for the earth. Johnson says it can be as easy as thinking of a way to remember to bring those reusable bags to Jewel, reducing the amount of stuff in your house, or helping to put the dishes away after dinner.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.