The following is another contribution from Chris Long of Home Depot. As a Chicago area Home Depot sales associate, he likes to share his knowledge about lawn care and gardening projects and often publishes articles on the Home Depot blog. Chris also likes to share tips on sustainable living topics, such as, raised bed gardening and composting.
How to Make an Earth Day Advent Calendar
There couldn’t be a better time of year for celebrating Earth Day than April. The days have become noticeably longer, the air is shaking off its winter cold and all around you the trees, plants and flowers are budding and blossoming in celebration of the spring. And starting around April 1st, environmental organizations around the world are encouraging everyone to gear up their green practices in anticipation of Earth Day on April 22.
Amidst the Christmas season, your family may be using an Advent calendar to count the days until Santa comes. But how do you get your family to celebrate Earth Day with the same excitement (or at least a portion of it) that they have for Christmas? While we try to encourage our kids to recycle, turn out the lights when they’re not using them and conserve water, do they really know why we’re asking them to do this, or is it just more nagging in their ears?
Well, it will probably sound like nagging to them no matter what we do, but we can at least share the reasons for our earth-friendly actions. And one family-friendly way to do this is with an advent calendar.
Making an Earth Day Advent Calendar
While most people associate advent calendars with Christmas, these calendars can be used in anticipation of just about any event by using simple daily reminders and, of course, candy.
And while advent calendars can be made out of just about anything, it seems appropriate to make our Earth Day advent calendar out of recycled materials. For this homemade calendar, you’ll need the following:
- A paper grocery bag (or any used paper sitting around the house)
- Twine, yarn or string
- Decorating materials such as crayons, paint, markers, glitter, etc.
- Twigs from the yard
- A base such as a vase or sturdy Mason jar
Step 1: Make your advent tree
- Using the twigs you gathered from the yard, bundle them together so that the tops splay out like a tree.
- Place the base of the bundle in a sturdy vase or Mason jar. If the jar wants to tip over, weigh it down with rocks or dirt, pack in old cloth or find a taller jar to support it.
- Place the advent tree somewhere around the house where your family will see it every day.
Step 2: Make the advent days
- Take your paper bag and cut it into 22, 6-inch squares.
- Fold each square in half, unfold it, fold it in half the other way and then unfold back into a square so that you’re square has two intersecting fold lines.
- Turn the square over and fold the corners to the center, using the fold lines as a guide. You should end up with a square half as big as the one you started with.
Step 3: Write in your advent facts
- Unfolding your square, write a different advent fact and activity/question inside each square. You can come up with your own or use the suggestions at the end of this article.
- Fold three of the four corners back in and tape these together, leaving one corner free to make an envelope.
- Decorate the envelopes as you wish, making sure the date is written on the back of each one. This is a great chance for your kids to get creative with their design skills!
- Fill the envelope with a candy of your choice, making sure there’s one for each family member, and then tuck the last corner back in or tape it closed.
Step 4: Hang your calendar
- Using your twine, attach a loop to each envelope. For this tree, we tied a loop around the envelope and then made a loop around the top to hang it with, but you can use any method you like. If you have leftover Christmas ornament hooks, for example, you can use these instead. Just make sure that the top, unsecured flap is at the top so no candy falls out.
Step 5: Start your Earth Day celebrations!
On April 1, pick a time when everyone will be home – probably around dinner time – and choose a family member to open and read the first envelope. After everyone has a chance to answer or discuss the day’s fact, distribute the pieces of candy. It’s a great way to teach your family about the importance of protecting the environment, as well as a fun way to get them excited about celebrating the Earth!
Earth Day Fact and Activity Suggestions:
- The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, and 20 million people participated. How would you celebrate your first Earth Day?
- Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the same year as the first Earth Day. What are some things the EPA does?
- Every hour of sunlight on the Earth creates enough energy to meet our planet’s energy needs for one year. What is solar energy?
- The beginning of the environmental movement is credited to the first Earth Day. What is an example of the environmental movement?
- Americans receive more than 100 billion junk mail letters every year. What’s something else you can do with junk mail?
- More than 166 million tons of potentially recyclable/compostable items were tossed away last year. What makes an item recyclable?
- A solar cell is made of materials called semiconductors. Do you know how semiconductors work in solar cells? (See physics.org for a good answer)
- When it comes to recycling, we save up to five times the energy it take to make a new product. What can a tin can be recycled into?
- Solar panels are used to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to useable electricity. Where are some places you would find solar panels?
Chris Long is an on-the-floor store associate at a Home Depot in Illinois. He is also a frequent contributor to the Home Depot website, providing DIY advice on a wide range of topics, including electrical and solar panels, decor, millwork and home security.