When we think about environmental literacy, we think of classroom lessons and outdoor field trips. But environmental literacy can be practiced outside of educational settings, specifically at home in your community! According to Jason Morris, the Senior Program Officer for Environmental Education at Pisces Foundation, the 3 key components of a strong environmental education ecosystem are experiences at school, experiences in programs, and experiences at home and in local communities. By implementing green practices at home, families can spark conversations that advance environmental literacy and help them better understand their connection to the natural world around them – one of the core goals of environmental literacy! If you are looking to incorporate environmentally literate activities at home in your community, look no further.
One of the easiest ways to advance environmental literacy at home in your local community is to get outside! Exploring your neighborhood is a great way to discover the positive environmental practices already occurring within your community. Keep an eye out for community gardens, monarch butterfly waystations, and local trails and parks – these sustainable living locations can become the catalyst for your neighborhood to transition into a greener community.
As you explore your neighborhood, take note of the natural flora and fauna you witness. Encourage children or other family members to carry a nature notebook – capturing their thoughts about the butterflies they see, what flowers they land on, the colors of their wings – taking notes about experiences in your community is a great way for children to relate to the natural world around them. Apps such as iNaturalist, allow explorers to act as citizen scientists, capturing images of the plants and animals they see in their communities to help naturalists identify and protect the many plant species we have on our planet. Joining a network like iNaturalist is an easy and exciting way to get involved in your community, learn about your surroundings, and continue conversations about the environment outside the classroom.
Another way to encourage environmentally literate members of your community is through utilizing public transportation or taking a bike ride to the grocery store! When taking these alternative forms of transportation, you can start a conversation with your family about how you have lowered your carbon footprint and how the environment benefits from these small acts. Bike riding and using public transportation is also a great way to explore new areas of your community that you may usually avoid due to busy parking lots, fares for parking garages, or ease of accessibility. Creating a neighborhood carpool group is also a great way to lower your carbon footprint while also bringing environmental literacy practices to more families in your community.
A fun and tangible way to introduce environmental practices into everyday home life is to introduce recycling processes into everyday actions. Take a look at your community’s recycling policies: Do they separate plastics? Do they accept glass? If you start a conversation at home about how you can improve your community’s recycling policies, families and neighbors can come together to write a letter to local governments to update policies in a way that best fits the needs of your community. You can also introduce programs such as Terracycle, which utilizes school recycling centers and encourage recycling through a school rewards program!
There are many ways to incorporate environmental literacy activities at home in your community. Creating exciting conversations surrounding actions and observations in your neighborhood is a great way for children to actualize the way their experiences are a part of the natural world. Children are more likely to connect with the natural elements around them when they are introduced to practices at home and in their local community, as well as in the classroom. Learn more about how you can take action and support the advancement of environmental literacy among children in your community through the links below.
Humans use as many ecological resources as if we lived on 1.6 Earths. The Ecological Footprint is the only metric that compares the resource demand of individuals, governments, and businesses against Earth’s capacity for biological regeneration. Calculate your Carbon Footprint today!
Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. iNaturalist shares your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe.
With scavenger hunts, word games, matching pictures, and more, you can find Junior Ranger activities online. The National Park Service is building this page with more fun stuff, so check back often to see which parks add more activities to this page.
Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall.
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
California parks include California State Parks, National Parks, and local community-operated city and community parks. There’s lots of “parking” going on at these natural assets that locals need for healthy living and tourists come to see their amazing attractions such as the world’s tallest trees, the world’s oldest tree, the world’s biggest tree, and much more.
TerraCycle® is a social enterprise Eliminating the Idea of Waste®. In 21 countries, they tackle the issue from many angles. They have found that nearly everything we touch can be recycled and collect typically non-recyclable items through national, first-of-their-kind recycling platforms.