Earth Day, Every Day
With Earth Day 2023 right around the corner, we want to inspire our youth in the noble cause of conservation. If you live in Port Arthur, or anywhere along the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, you know we have so many resources worth protecting. We celebrate Earth Day once a year– this year it’s April 22nd, but we believe climate literacy, planting trees, reducing plastic and simply enjoying the outdoors is a way of life.
Here are 10 ways you can help your family connect with the environment, bring back the awe and invest in our planet:
1. Sign up for Earth Day Activities in Port Arthur
The Great Global Cleanup day is Saturday, April 22, 2023. This year, join the global movement by getting involved in your own backyard:
- Chamber of Commerce Procter Street Clean Up: Seafarer Center, 11am, Friday April 21st
- City of Port Arthur Earth Day 2023: Port Arthur Pavilion, 8am Saturday, April 22nd
- Shangri La Botanical Garden Eco Fest and Butterfly Release: Saturday, April 22nd 10am – 3:30pm
2. Display a World Map in your Home
Here’s an easy start. Prominently displaying a world map and/or globe in the home is a simple way to bring global awareness to your family. Kids want to know where they are in the world. From there, point out various states and countries as your family discusses world events, history or cultural conversations.
3. Get Involved Throughout the Year
One of the best ways to increase awareness is to get involved in an organized clean up throughout the year. Organized events are great for family units, small groups and even the individual looking for service opportunities and community involvement:
- Texas Adopt-a-Beach: Volunteer to Keep Texas Beaches clean during their spring and fall campaigns around the State.
- World Cleanup Day: Unite with 190 countries on September 16 in global effort towards a waste free world.
- National Cleanup Day: September is National Cleanup Month. The 2023 theme is Good, Clean, Fun! Join a cleanup on September 16.
- Big Thicket National Preserve: You can plant trees, pick up trash or volunteer as a paddle assistant all year long
- Mid County Victory Garden – Grow food, share love. That’s what happens at MCVG all year long.
Pro Tip: If you can’t catch an official clean up day, pack an extra trash bag (or two!) on your next family outing. Save 20 minutes to walk and gather nearby trash. This is a great way to instill self-respect and pride in your kids. Ever heard of “Don’t Mess with Texas?” That’s a statewide initiative to promote a litter free world.
4. Get Outdoors and Go on Nature Walks
Let’s change the narrative. Instead of viewing time in nature as a leisure time, look at it as a necessary element to your child’s growth and development. Free time spent wandering, dreaming and exploring in the outdoors plants a seed of curiosity and care for the world around them. Pretty soon, your kids will want to understand what they’re looking at. Desiring to name a plant, tree or wildflower is the first step in kids becoming naturalists.
Interested in the Texas Master Naturalist Program? Learn more about the Sabine-Neches Chapter here.
Pro tip: Even if you can’t get to remote areas or hiking trails, taking an afternoon walk in your own neighborhood is a great alternative. Urban areas offer ornamental trees, manicured gardens and plenty of backyard birds, squirrels, raccoons and the occasional opossum!
5. Watch Family Nature Documentaries
With all the mindless content swarming the internet, why not swap family movie night for an intentional learning and entertainment experience? Since the Monarch Butterfly is the state insect, we recommend starting with Protecting the Monarch Butterfly above. Here is a free resource that offers high quality nature and conservation documentaries:
6. Visit the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s first floor exhibits
The Museum of the Gulf Coast’s first floor permanent collection covers the natural history of the Upper Texas Gulf Coast. From the first settlers, to the discovery of oil and all of the native plants and wildlife in between, it’s a great place to introduce your children to what we know about our natural history in a friendly, safe and interactive space.
Pro tip: Visit their Education and Outreach information center for details on how to plan your day trip, join a Free Family Fun Day or sign up to volunteer.
7. Visit Gardens and Nature Discovery Centers
Southeast Texas is chock full of gardens, nature centers and parks. Here, your family can learn about our area’s conservation efforts, enjoy our diverse ecosystems and safely explore the wild. Read here to learn more about this summer punch list:
- Buu Mon Buddhist Temple and Gardens
- Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Discovery Center
- Tyrrell Park Botanical Gardens, Nature Center and Cattail Marsh Birding Site
- Big Thicket National Preserve
- Sea Rim State Park
- Village Creek State Park
8. Plant a Native Pollinator Garden
It’s time to pull up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You might think planting a small native garden is just that, a small effort. But once you plant 3-5 natives in your yard, you’ll witness hundreds of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds flock to your neck of the woods. This is big stuff!
Here’s our go-to short list of what we recommend in Southeast Texas:
- Texas Sage: Silvery foliage and purple flowers adorn this beauty, dubbed the Official State Native Shrub of Texas.
- Indian Blanket: Another option is the Firewheel. They can take the heat.
- Black Eyed Susan: Deadhead to keep them blooming.
- Loblolly Pine: Needles and cones make excellent mulch.
- Southern Wax Myrtle: This evergreen can reach 20 feet with a spicy fragrance. In colonial times, the waxy covering made candles.
Pro Tip: If you’re mowing and spot a crop of wildflowers, leave a patch for the birds and bees to enjoy for a while. If you’re want to become a Texas Master Gardener, join the next local cohort in August. A great site for research is the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
9. Read Earth Friendly Children’s Books
Sharing books with kids about our natural world—and especially about what we can do to take care of it—is important all year long, but it’s especially relevant and impactful around Earth Day. These books explain the different ways we can protect our planet, share some of the amazing eco-friendly feats others have achieved, and delve into the history of Earth’s climate. Check out this list of 45 Earth Day books for Kids to share with your young environmentalists.
10. Study a Second Language
We know what you’re thinking. How does learning a second language relate to saving the environment? Simply put, learning a second language expands your knowledge, appreciation and compassion not only for the world at large but for the people who inhabit it. In this way, we learn to respect one another and our planet. Not convinced? Here are a few additional benefits of language learning:
- You will meet new and interesting people
- Foreign language opens the door to art, music, dance, fashion, philosophy, film and food
- International travel will become easier and more pleasant
- You will improve your memory alongside as well as your native language skills
- You will participate more effectively in a multicultural world
- It’d fun and rewarding!
Well, there you have it. 10 Ways to Raise Your Kids as Global Citizens. Our advice? Start small. Daily habits and self-awareness go a long way in helping our kids grow to be great stewards of our environment. In the meantime, feel free to reach out or share your ideas with us. Share your good deeds using the hashtag #loveportarthurtx
Lovingly written by our Marketing Director, Callie Summerlin.