Green Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day typically means hearts and flowers.  But rather than the usual paper cards and store-bought posies, you and your family might choose to go green rather than buy red this year. Here are a few ideas: An earth-friendly gift, an outdoor game and a kids’ book chock-full of great green projects.

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1.  Grow Your Own: Prepare for spring planting by starting indoors.  All you need are a packet of seeds (flower, tomato, herbs such as chives), a bag of soil, several flower pots and a sunny window.  Your bits of green will soon sprout even as the “wintry mix” continues to fall outdoors.

2.  Go on a Red-and-Green Hunt: On a walk through your neighborhood or hike through the woods, look for flashes of red (male cardinals, holly berries) and green (pine trees, running cedar).  This is a playful, pre-Spring activity.  Be on the watch for the small, shy leaves of the first crocus.

3.  Pick up a copy of Girls Gone Green by Lynn Hirshfield (Puffin, 2010, ages 9 and up): Author Hirshfield has gathered information on dozens of environmental projects  founded and run by girls and young women all over the country. Their ideas may jump start a family project or inspire your children to act upon a concern or to initiate an activity on their own.  The girls (and even a few green-conscious young celebrities such as actress Ellen Page and singer/songwriter Michelle Branch) offer advice in getting started and share helpful resources and websites.

A sampling:

  • In California, Adrienne Boukis, 13, designed a reusable lunch bag that she now uses as a fundraiser for worthy causes.
  • In Texas, second grader  Stephanie Cohen created pins and collected signatures to help raise awareness of the plight of the endangered manatee.  Now at the age of 16, through the national nonprofit she founded, Kids Making a Difference, Stephanie brings together and helps inform young people desirous of having a positive impact on the world.
  • Elizabeth Severino, 18, spearheads efforts to clean up the Bronx River in New York.
  • Mollie Passacantando, 10, of Virginia, advocates for polar bears and honeybees through her blog, protest rallies and letter campaigns.

A big green Valentine to these girls and all other kids (and to your family, too) who may be making a difference in big and small ways. As Mollie says, “If someone tells you that you’re too young … or that you can’t do anything to help the planet, prove them wrong.  I did.”

More Valentine’s Day Fun: