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6 Ways to Get Your Kids Involved with Helping the Earth this Summer

06/05/2014 at 09:00 AM ET

Summer Tips for Getting Kids Involved in EnvironmentCourtesy Bambooee

Shocked to learn that only 7 percent of the Brazilian rainforest was left intact, mother-of-two Irene Krasniansky decided it was time to lay down the law: no more paper towels.

Prompted by the pledge, her entrepreneurial husband, Noam, set out to develop a product that not only replaced disposable paper towels, but was also composed of a sustainable and renewable resource.

The result: an “un-paper” towel that replaces up to 286 paper-towel rolls.

The couple, inspired by TOMS’ shoe-donation campaign “One for One,” then took their mission one step further by vowing to plant a tree for every roll of Bambooee sold.

To date, their pledge is responsible for over 70,000 new trees being planted. Also nearest to Irene’s heart is teaching future generations how to care for their planet.

From planting summer veggies to visiting a local beekeeper, she’s sharing her fave tips for getting your kids involved in the cause.

Cool It Down
Planting trees helps cool the planet, so encourage your child to help you put down some new roots in your front or side yard. You can buy seeds or seedlings at your local gardening store or online. I suggest Moringa trees because they’re fast growing with super-nutritious leaves. Just remember to water every few days during the summer, then only once a week once established. Or better yet, wait to transplant them in the fall.

Bees Are Our Friends
You’ve probably heard about “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) or “vanishing bee syndrome.” This is no small problem; its affects could be disastrous. Bee populations are at an all-time low in the U.S. and we all need to take some responsibility and help in our own way. How? Plant clover in your garden. Bees love it, and clover makes an attractive and robust ground cover. There are many organic varieties available.

Another way to help is to install a small bee hive on your property or hang a bee block. You can also tour a local beekeeper’s hives with the kids — teaching children the interdependence of living creatures can be educational and inspiring, and is something that will stay with them forever.

Get Veggie-licious
Winter squash, corn, cucumber, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes love lots of heat and sun so these are perfect to plant and grow during the summer. If you are new to growing your own veggies, I suggest buying organic seedlings at your local gardening store, instead of trying to grow from seeds and water them daily.

If you have limited space and can’t build raised beds, fabric containers work just as well. If pests are a problem, zap them with organic Neem oil, which doesn’t harm the beneficial bugs. Only spray if you see half-eaten leaves and fruit. The kids can help spray the plants, since Neem oil is not harmful to them either.

Chicken Out
Chickens are so much fun and so little work. For the kids, it’s important to pick the right breed, however. My Barred Rock hens are docile with the kids and do well in the hot Los Angeles weather. Faverolle is another docile breed that is good for cold weather. Our chickens don’t mind being picked up and petted by our children.

We feed our chickens all of our kitchen scraps, which helps reduce how much trash we have to throw out. I let them out of the coop on weekends so they can search out and the eat bugs in the garden. I also recommend giving them organic feed, usually called “layer mash.” It’s good for them and makes for extremely nutritious eggs.

It’s also best to have a covered run and fill it with sand, so that when it rains, the chickens aren’t wading in mud. And you can compost the chicken droppings and use it as fertilizer for your garden as well.

Ditch Water Bottles
2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars are thrown away a year. With such an assortment of cute, reusable bottles for sale nowadays, there’s really no reason for this sort of waste. We have a water filter on our sink and fill bottles of water at home to take with us when we go out. It’s so great not having to buy bottles all the time.

We also make a variety of homemade iced teas instead of buying bottled drinks. For parties, serve a few different-flavored drinks in large dispensers with reusable cups, instead of individually bottled drinks. Have the kids pick which flavors to serve. They love it!

Homemade Is Best
Palm oil is also a major contributing factor in deforestation, animal habitat degradation, and climate change. Yet it is found in most store-bought baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste. We love to bake at home, so use butter or coconut oil with almond or coconut flours. And for sweeteners, we use honey or stevia instead of sugar.

We also make homemade cleaners, shampoo and soap. The kids love to pick their favorite flavor and make their soap as a fun weekend project.

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