- Importance of green exercise
- Sussex Green Living Treasure Hunts in the countryside
- Self guided walks in the Horsham District area
- What is Green Art?
- The Green Club
- Green birthday parties
- Green party idea
Participating in physical activities and experiencing nature both play an important role in positively influencing our health and wellbeing. Yet physical activity levels have dropped dramatically, and inactivity results in 1.9 million deaths worldwide annually, roughly one in 25 of all deaths. The cost of inactivity in the UK is 8.3 billion per year, equating to 5 million for each PCT. It is also well established that exposure to natural places can lead to positive mental health outcomes, whether a view of nature from a window, being within natural places or exercising in these environments.
Green space is important for mental well-being, and levels of interaction/engagement have been linked with longevity and decreased risk of mental ill-health across a number of countries. Thus green exercise, comprising activity in green places (in the presence of nature), is predicted to lead to positive health outcomes, as well as to promote ecological knowledge, foster social bonds and influence choices.
Research suggests that attention should be given to developing the use of green exercise as a therapeutic intervention (green care), that planners and architects should improve access to green spaces (green design), and that children should be encouraged to spend more time engaging with nature and be given opportunities to learn in outdoor settings (green education).
Some of the substantial mental health challenges facing society, and physical challenges arising from modern diet and sedentary lifestyles, could be addressed by increasing physical activities in natural places. If children are encouraged and enabled to undertake more green exercise, then they are more likely to have active exposure to nature embedded in their lifestyles as adults and will reap the associated health benefits. This will lead to enhanced connectedness to nature and increased environmental knowledge (green education).
So get out there and explore the great outdoors with your children, connect them to their planet and all the other wildlife we share this planet with. Learn more about the importance of play for children and how Dr Peter Gray compares human children to Carnivores and herbivores!
Or here you can learn about Project Wild Thing which is a growing movement of people concerned about the need for nature connected, free-range, roaming and outdoor playing kids in the 21st century. You can see a trailer to the Project Wild Thing documentary and more information about an ap they have developed to try and get kids outdoors.
Do you love getting out into the countryside? Inhaling fresh air, feeling the wind and sun on your face? Do you need to occupy and exercise your children but be mindful of your weekly spend? Well you can achieve all this and get some mental and physical exercise for your family by simply going for a walk in our wonderful countryside. Then why not try geocaching?
What is geocaching do I hear you say? It is the modern day equivalent of a treasure hunt. Children and adults alike absolutely love geocaching, it ticks all the boxes above, it encourages exploration of the world around them, its great for boosting an interest in geography, science, ecology and enhancing team-building skills. What’s not to love?!
Periodically Sussex Green Living arrange Walk with Nature geocaches and Trash or Treasure geocaches. Walk with nature will focus on the nature all around you, using trees and nature as your prompts when searching for the cache or treasure. Trash or Treasure geocaches will also take you off into some stunning countryside with the end caches or treasures testing your knowledge about recycling. If recycling seems a strange connection, then think about it….what is paper and cardboard made from? Trees. What is plastic made from? Petroleum from deep down from Planet Earth. Everything around us is made out of natural resources from our planet, we must treasure these materials, reuse or recycle them. These trails will help to connect you with the wonderful planet on which we live.
Learn more about Geocaching here.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get out and walk, because you don’t know where to go, or if the paths will be good or accessible. Help is at hand; there are 14 self guided walks available here for downloading, on Horsham District Council website.
Just log on to this web page and the maps and descriptions are all there, please help yourself.
Walking is a great form of exercise; everyone can do it, the kids love getting out and looking at the countryside, running up and down the paths and generally having a good time. Fresh air is a great benefit to families; it can help de stress mums and dads and help the kids sleep better. Walking is also free and you don’t have to have any special kind of kit; comfy shoes and old clothes are best.
If you like walking with other people and families, then there are lots of free led walks for you to choose from; just log on to www.horshamhealthwalks.co.uk, and join in.
- It is the use of rubbish – we call it treasure – to create toys and incredible inventions. Good green art demonstrates good ecological practices – respect and a love of nature, recycling and reusing lots of things which would otherwise just get put in the bin. This is a great way to allow children to explore different materials and mediums in their own time and at their own pace. As you look to nature for inspiration, you will be strengthening your commitment to do your part to save the earth. As you create treasures out of trash, you will open your eyes to all sorts of possibilities for using things that would otherwise end up in the landfills.
Why not take a look at our Green Club.
We have all got caught up in the cycle of ‘over consumer consumption’ in relation to children’s parties. We have all been sucked into consumer-led birthday parties with one-time use paper cups, plates, tablecloths, birthday banners and plastic party bags with lots of one-time use plastic toys from China in them!
On 19th February I decided to demonstrate a greener birthday party. These are the elements of the party and how I made it a greener party.
Invitations – Rather than purchase invitations to be posted, incurring delivery packaging and all the associated transportation carbon footprint, my 4 year old son and I designed little A6 Super Marios invitations. These were hand-delivered to nursery friends and walked to local friends, invitations only – no envelopes. Children loved receiving these miniature cards!
Decorations – We used a Christmas multi-coloured central table decoration and added little Super Marios which were printed on the back of used paper and stuck onto the Christmas stars.
Banners – We made a Happy Birthday banner out of paper plates strung up with ribbon. The plates can be redecorated each year and eventually put in the recycling bin. I have also seen people making flags out of old maps and stringing them up, they look pretty neat!
Cups and Plates – Rather than using Super Mario one-time use paper cups and plates we used existing every day plastic colourful plates.
Table cloth – No plastic one-time use Super Mario tablecloth in our household! We used a white paper tablecloth which the children decorated as part of the party fun. Paper tablecloths, as long as they are not wet or covered in food, can go in the paper recycling. If they are wet or dirty then tear them up and put them in your compost bin.
Secondhand presents – This might not work so well with older children … my son has a cousin who is 2 1/2 years older, he often gets hand-me-down books and toys. So I suggested a rather magnificent world educational globe, which was likely to be handed down any day, was wrapped up and given to him as his birthday present. I have decided not to buy any plastic toys new now, only secondhand. Lots of the plastic toys are made in the far east, so due to the transportation they come with a high carbon footprint.
My son wanted a castle for his birthday. We found a beautiful ELC Castle of Doom from the Cancer Research charity shop for £10, rather than £80 new. This just makes such sense, a fantastic charity gain £10, a wonderful wooden castle gets a second lease of life and our son enjoys many years of fantasy fun. It is surely a win, win situation.
Alternatively, a lovely present and a way of connecting children with the great green outdoors is to join them up to the Nature Detectives Club or why not buy them a butterfly kit, find out more here.
Wrapping paper and cards – We have agreed within our family that we are going to use “paper for life” or as long as we can make it last, passing it to and from each other for birthdays from year to year. The same theory will be practised with Christmas and Birthday cards.
Party bags – Avoid plastic party bags at all costs, they get opened, emptied, put straight in the bin and then go off to the landfill! This makes no sense. I was going to use colourful tissue paper which could at least go in the recycling bin, however my husband bought me a beautiful Valentine bouquet which was wrapped in a sheet of clear plastic and several sheets of red and orange tissue paper. We cut this into oblongs and selotaped it into little bags, sticking on a Super Mario character printed onto the back of some used paper.
Party bag contents – This did not consist of the typical one-time use plastic toys from China. They included a little paper colouring book, once used they could go in the recycling bin. The boys had a little superman model which came from a jumble sale (I hasten to add they were washed in sterilising fluid first). The girls had the equivalent!
Party Games – These included pass the parcel of course, using secondhand wrapping paper from an earlier birthday party. Lots of outdoor games thanks to some unusual February mild weather.
Food – Most of the food was bought locally from the market and small supermarket, avoiding packaging. Where packaging was required we selected products with recyclable packaging.
Thank you cards – We saved the birthday wrapping paper and made our own recycled thank you cards.
Green Party ideas…
Why not enjoy an environmentally friendly and stress free alternative to children’s birthday parties and support a good cause?
Sussex Wildlife Trust at Woods Mill, Henfield, offer outdoor parties, with activities including pond dipping, shelter building, woodland games and treasure hunts followed by use of the classroom for party food (provided by yourselves).
Two hour session and use of classroom for food etc
£10 per child. Minimum charge £150
For further details, please contact the Sussex Wildlife Trust Outreach Officer on 01273 497513
Rather than giving another plastic toy, which to be honest most children do not need, why not adopt an endangered animal or pay for a tree to be planted? Through this scheme for just £9 you can pledge a tree to be planted in Kenya, Africa. These reforestation activities are being lead by a small community based project team called Escarpment Environment Conservation Network.
All trees that are planted are native to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, and will be carefully planted and managed to live their natural lifespan and meet their biodiversity targets.
Each tree planted helps to offset your environmental impact by “breathing” in CO2 as it grows. The trees also replenish sustainable habitat for wildlife and will enhance the natural landscape with native trees. Learn more here.