Honoring Earth Day with your Teen

Girl Holding PlantEarth Day, an international celebration to increase awareness of Earth’s environment, is April 22. Started in 1970, it is celebrated today by more than 500 million people in 175 countries.

One of the latest trends to hit the current teen generation is sustainability, or creating and maintaining the conditions in our environment under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony. Teens are eager to help Mother Earth and are creative in finding new ways to “go green.” Don’t be surprised if you see a teen wearing a necklace made of can tabs or using a wallet made of duct tape in the spirit of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’

We suggest you consider ways you can engage your teen on Earth Day for three great reasons: (1) you will help the earth, (2) you will spend time with your teen, and (3) hopefully, you will find a shared purpose that will encourage bonding between the two of you.

Following are some Earth Day activities that might be just the thing to engage your teen:

Host a used item swap. A swap party is a small gathering of people who come together to trade their gently used items. The goal is for everyone in attendance to trade off some of their unneeded or unwanted items and replace them with goods they do need or want. That way, unwanted items we would have thrown into a landfill are recycled into a new home, and we reduce the need to buy new things. Used items you might want to swap are clothing, baby gear, books, accessories, craft supplies, home décor, toys, kitchen items, etc. For teens, they might want to swap accessories, media, or room décor. When hosting a swap party, you can create a theme (such as only clothing) or let it be wide open. Set the party rules in advance – how many items each person can or should bring, how many they are allowed to take, whether or not you want to organize things by expense, the order for selecting an item, etc. Once the swapping has ceased, any leftover items then get donated to charity, so they will still be reused!

Organize a group to help the community AND the environment. Teens love spending time with their friends. Organize a service project that allows the teens to be social and also impacts the environment for the better. For example, teens can pick up litter off a road, beautify a local park, or use trash or recycled items to make crafts and treasures they can share with a local nursing home.

Garden. Plant a tree in your yard. Grow your own herbs. Create a vegetable garden. Plants clean our air and help the environment. Gardens have the added benefit of reducing the transportation of produce to grocery stores.

Brainstorm ways your family can make a difference for the earth. There are some really easy changes you as a family can make to help the environment, so brainstorm them together, decide which ones to implement, and then commit to following your new plan for a year. Some ideas may be:

  • Turn off all electronics when they are not being used.
  • Take shorter and cooler showers.
  • Once a week, choose to ride your bike to a place you normally would have driven.
  • Car pool to sports practices and other activities when possible.
  • Use a reusable lunch bag and containers instead of paper and plastic.
  • Don’t buy individually bottled water. Invest in a water bottle and refill it instead.
  • Use your own fabric bags when shopping, instead of the plastic bags each store offers.
  • Eat one animal-free meal every day.
  • Cancel sales catalogs.
  • Recycle paper, glass and plastic.


Spending time with your teen for an Earth Day project will instill the value of caring for our earth while also cementing a bond between the two of you. We hope you have a lot of family fun while feeling good about your efforts!

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