Kids donate their birthday money to the Nature Conservancy of Canada
On April 27, my two sons, Finn and Bodhi, had a "toonie party" to celebrate their joint birthday. In lieu of gifts, my husband and I asked their friends and other family members to bring each of them a toonie to save or spend on something special, and another toonie for the boys to donate to a charity of their choice. They decided to donate to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), and they collected enough toonies to make a $50 donation. We have done this type of party for them every year, and this is their second year donating to NCC.
As parents, we have noticed the wasteful ways in which we as a society celebrate events. We often stay to clean up after birthday parties, holiday parties and staff functions, where bags and bags of packaging, gift wrap, plastic cutlery, Styrofoam and plastic cups, party favours and more accumulate after being used once before heading to the landfill. We want to try to change that and show our children another way.
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Of course, like any kid, our sons sometimes protest our ideas, but they quickly become inspired and excited once they have chosen a charity to donate to. This year I showed them the Landmark Campaign video on NCC’s website, and they were sold.
To have a more eco-friendly birthday party, we served finger foods, so that we didn't need cutlery, and served water in reusable cups. We also used compostable plates and napkins that were added to our compost bin after the party.
The kids and a few friends also collected approximately 18 kilograms of trash at our local park area on Earth Day (April 22), which is my eldest son’s actual birthday. Each year, we try to get out for a cleanup on each of our birthdays to take care of Mother Earth and acknowledge that she has taken care of us for another year. Our kids are great sports, and we have many friends who willingly come along with their bags and gloves too.
In the grand scheme of things, our efforts are a drop in the bucket. We are far from perfect, but it feels good to know that we are doing something. Instead of acquiring many items that don't mean that much to us, we would rather have fewer items and primarily items that we feel more reverence and appreciation for.
We also wish to teach our kids to consume less in order to use fewer of the Earth's resources for the production, transport and packaging of items.
As parents, it is not easy to teach the values of simplicity, minimalism and sustainability when we and our kids are being bombarded by advertising and messages of consumerism at every corner, but we are trying. We are proud of our kids for being willing to work with us to try another way and hopefully inspire others as well.