Don't let your child think that their voice and actions don't matter, because they do matter a great deal. There are many things children can do to help save the planet. Each small step adds up.

What Can I Do to Help Save the Planet?

Whether your child is in elementary school or already in high school, there are large and small things they can do that have a big (or small, but small is good too) impact on the earth. Here are some things they can do (and you can help them with).

1. Plant a Tree

Planting a tree, no matter what type it is, is a great way to give back to the earth. There are often parks that allow patrons to plant trees, or you can plant one in your own yard. Of course, make sure you plant a tree that is native to your area.

2. Walk Instead of Asking for a Ride

Planet earth

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Put fewer toxins into the air by walking or riding a bicycle. Teach your children the joys of walking and enjoying nature – maybe they'll choose to walk two blocks to their friend's house instead of asking for a ride (and help you save on some gas money too).

3. Start Recycling

In many homes, it's actually the kids that teach their parents the importance of recycling. Depending on your local recycling program, you can have one bin for all recyclable or keep your papers separate from metal and plastic. You can also come up with great craft ideas to use some of your trash for, like using cereal boxes to make journal covers!

Recycling trash into crafts is a great way for your kids to learn how to reuse things – plus they might come up with some great things to gift or sell.

4. Collect Cans

Start a local can drive. You can donate the money you get to a good cause (if you live in a state with bottle refunds). Otherwise, you'll still be helping people learn to recycle. There are also craft ideas that use old cans and bottle (plastic and glass).

5. Pick Up Trash

Pile of brown garbage

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You don't even have to “adopt-a-highway” in order to clean up some trash on the roads. Pick up any garbage you find when you're walking around the block. Parents can take kids to local beaches and parks and pick up trash left by vacationers.

Learning to regularly pick up trash they see on the sidewalk, road, or in yards is a great way to work on teaching children the importance of not littering. They will get a chance to see what it does to the landscape and wildlife, firsthand. There are also some great ideas for crafting and art with “found objects” that might let your kid put some of that “trash” to good use.

6. Waste Less Water

There may be a ton of water in all the lakes and oceans, but it's not something that will last forever. In states where droughts are common, it is extremely important to learn how to conserve water. Kids can help the environment by taking baths (or shorter showers), have a bucket to rinse dishes in (if you have a single sink), and by going to the public pool or water park instead of using a sprinkler at home.

Make sure kids understand that water isn't free – many people in the world don't have access to it, or at least not to clean water. If you live in the city, you pay a water bill. And, bottled water isn't cheap (and it's bad for the environment).

7. Start Composting

Composting is a great way to have fewer kitchen scraps and gives kids something to do with some of the leaves they rake each fall as well. Compost can be used for flower beds and the family garden, to help grow bigger flowers and vegetables.

You'll want to help them with composting and do some studying on what is safe for the compost pile and what isn't. Raw meats can cause gasses and bacteria that can be harmful to breathe.

8. Grow Your Own Food

Speaking of gardening – this is another fun thing that kids can do. You can have an outdoor garden or an indoor one, or both. Growing foods helps enrich the soil in your yard, and it gives you healthy homegrown foods to enjoy.

9. Use Less Electricity

Teach your children to shut down their electronics at night, and even to shut off the power supply (or unplug) to use even less energy. Ensure that every single person in your household knows to shut off lights in the rooms no one is occupying. Invest in power supplies that have the on/off switch to make it easy for kids to shut all of their entertainment devices off with one click.

10. Get a Library Card

Bookshelves on library hall

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Library cards save money and save space in your home – plus, they ensure that fewer books and other entertainment items end up in landfills. Libraries carry more than just books – so your child can get all the entertainment they need there. Check out books, movies, video games, and even CDs. They can also find books on how to be more environmentally conscious at the library!

11. Donate!

Is it time for your kids to start cleaning out some of their old toys and clothes they've grown out of? Teach them the importance of donating old items that still have some life in them, instead of throwing them into the landfills. You can donate to thrift stores, homeless shelters, and more – save new items that are still in their original packages for events like Toys For Tots.

12. Say “No” to Straws

Straws are made of plastic and plastic takes a very long time to break down in landfills. Every single time you eat at a restaurant, they give you a straw – and when you get a refill, they bring another one. When you place your drink order, tell the waiter you don't want a straw.

13. Volunteer

There are lots of volunteer opportunities that revolve around helping the planet.

  • The Arbor Day Foundation – This foundation is all about planting trees because they know that trees help fight air pollution and climate change. They also make homes for all sorts of wildlife. Do a little research with your kids and find out how you can volunteer to plant trees through this foundation.
  • Visit a Local Farm – Take your children to a local farm to volunteer with the animals and clean up for a day. They will learn about where some of their food comes and how much work goes into growing food.
  • Cleanup Crew – There are all sorts of cleanup crews in any city – from cleaning the roadsides to cleaning the riverbeds and beaches. Do some volunteering with your kids to help clean up your own hometown.

14. Consume Less

Woman putting red apple in a grocery basket

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By teaching your children how to consume less, you not only save money, but you also help save the environment. Part of consuming less means buying less clutter for the home (ask them if they really need a tenth stuffed toy), but it also means consuming less food – and making sure you use the food you do buy and cook. Don't throw leftovers away.

What Else Can Be Done to Save the Planet?

The fourteen great tips above will have your child doing so much to help the planet, but there is more they can do. Aside from practicing each of these things, your child can do so much more by telling other people about the ways they are working to save the planet.

Teach them to talk to their friends about changing their wasteful ways. Don't discourage them from talking about all of the eco-friendly projects they've been working on – they could be educational topics at the next family get-together. By spreading their knowledge, they'll be teaching more people to make a positive impact on the world around them.

When to Do These Things

Don't wait until Earth Day each year to encourage your children to do good things for the earth (and your wallet). Talk to them when they ask “What can I do?” Give them ideas that will start them on the path t being for environmentally-conscious individuals. These are all wonderful lessons that your kids will take with them into adulthood.

Featured image by Stephan Seeber by Pexels.