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20 Eco-Friendly Activities for the Whole Family to Enjoy

The United Kingdom, with its stunning blend of rich history, diverse culture, and exquisite natural landscapes, offers an array of possibilities for families to embark on eco-friendly adventures.

In an time where environmental consciousness is becoming increasingly important, exploring the UK’s beauty through sustainable and responsible activities is not just a leisurely pursuit—it is an opportunity to connect with the planet and foster an enduring commitment to its preservation.

The UK’s beauty extends far beyond its bustling cities and historic landmarks; it is a country where the landscapes are as varied as they are breathtaking, created naturally over thousands of years. From the rugged majesty of the Scottish Highlands to the tranquil beauty of the Lake District, from the windswept coastlines of Cornwall to the lush greenery of the Welsh valleys, this island has something to offer every nature-loving family, all without having to get on a plane. 

But what sets these eco-friendly activities apart is not just the visual brilliance of the UK’s natural beauty; it is the potential for families to become active participants in the ongoing narrative of conservation and environmental stewardship. 

Eco-friendly adventures in the UK are not only about the thrill of discovery but also about taking tangible steps towards protecting the environment. As families, we share a collective responsibility to ensure that the landscapes, ecosystems, and wildlife that define this country continue to thrive for generations to come. These activities are a tangible way to make a difference, to move beyond words and into action.

For families, these experiences have the added benefit of forging stronger bonds, creating lasting memories, and instilling values that will endure a lifetime. The United Kingdom’s natural wonders provide the backdrop for moments of joy, learning, and connection. Whether it’s the laughter of children exploring a forest, the quiet fascination of observing a rare bird, or the sense of accomplishment that comes from participating in a beach cleanup, these eco-friendly adventures have the power to shape both individuals and families as a whole. 

1. Hiking and Nature Walks

  • Location: All over the UK, from national parks like the Lake District to local nature reserves.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Hiking and nature walks encourage physical activity and a direct connection with nature without a significant carbon footprint. Spending time walking in the fresh air can also help us feel energised and helps your mental health
  • Tips: Research the area’s trails and wildlife before heading out. Ramblers website is a good place to start if you’re completely new to nature walks and hiking. It’s important to be safe and ensure you have the necessary equipment. 

2. Wildlife Watching

  • Location: Various wildlife sanctuaries, reserves, and national parks such as the Scottish Highlands or the RSPB reserves.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Observing wildlife in their natural habitat promotes conservation awareness and generates support for endangered species.
  • Tips: Bring binoculars and a field guide for identification. Keep a respectful distance from animals to avoid causing stress and ensure you stay safe. 

3. Beach Cleanups

  • Location: Coastal areas all over the UK, including popular beach destinations.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Removing litter and plastic from the beach helps protect marine life and maintain the beauty of the coast.
  • Tips: Bring gloves, bags, and a willingness to pick up litter. Join local beach cleanup initiatives, like the Great British Beach Clean or organise your own with a group of friends and family. It can be really rewarding and it’s a great way for little ones to get some fresh air, while the TV and tablets are all left at home. 

4. Camping and Glamping

  • Location: Campsites and glamping locations across the UK, including the New Forest and Dartmoor.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Camping is a great way to immerse families in nature and minimises environmental impact when done responsibly.
  • Tips: Choose eco-friendly campsites that promote sustainability. Great options could include local farms and enjoy the great outdoors. Some places offer family friendly accommodation and some are adult only, ensure you check this before you book. 

5. Tree Planting and Reforestation

  • Location: Participate in tree-planting programs across the UK, often organised by conservation charities.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Planting trees helps combat climate change and supports the restoration of natural habitats. This is a great eco-friendly activity that the whole family can enjoy
  • Tips: Check for local community tree-planting events and volunteer opportunities. Learn about the native tree species and the importance of reforestation. The Tree Council have their flagship event, Tree Planting week, where people get together from up and down the country to participate and plant trees. 

6. Bicycle Tours

  • Location: Various scenic routes, such as the Camel Trail in Cornwall or the Loch Ness 360 trail in Scotland.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Cycling reduces carbon emissions and provides a green mode of transportation. Bring your mountain bike but don’t forget you’ve got your family trailing behind!
  • Tips: Rent or bring bicycles suitable for the whole family. Plan routes that are safe and enjoyable for all ages and skill levels. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of nature

7. Organic Farm Visits

  • Location: Organic farms open to the public throughout the UK, like Mossgiel Organic Farm Visits or Daylesford Organic.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Learning about organic farming methods and sustainable agriculture can foster an appreciation for locally sourced, eco-friendly food and the different ways on how it’s having a positive impact on the environment. You could also learn about seasonal produce and their low carbon footprint. 
  • Tips: Schedule a guided tour, participate in workshops, and shop for organic produce to support sustainable agriculture. Make sure you ask a lot of questions and wear suitable clothing, depending on the weather, it could get a little cold and/or wet!

8. Geocaching

  • Location: Anywhere in the UK, as geocaches are hidden all over the country.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt that promotes outdoor exploration and adventure.
  • Tips: Download a geocaching app, bring a GPS device or smartphone, and respect the natural environment while searching for caches. 

9. Birdwatching and Bird Feeding

  • Location: Your own garden or local park and nature reserves with bird hides.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Birdwatching encourages an appreciation for local wildlife and can promote responsible bird feeding practices. This is a fun activity for little ones to spot the different species of birds.
  • Tips: Set up bird feeders in your garden, keep a bird identification book handy, and create a comfortable birdwatching spot at home. There are many creative ways to make your own bird feeder, a fun way (and easy way) to entertain the kids. You could check out the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch where you record the number of species of birds you see so the RSPB can keep a record of birdlife in the UK.

10. Organic Gardening and Allotments

  • Location: Organic gardening and allotments can be found in urban and rural areas across the UK.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Cultivating your own produce using sustainable practices reduces the carbon footprint of your food and fosters a deeper connection to the environment.
  • Tips: Consider renting an allotment or creating an organic garden at home. Research organic gardening methods, composting, and eco-friendly pest control to yield healthy, chemical-free produce. National Allotment Week is a great place to start if you’re a completely new to allotments. When you’re ready, you can apply for an allotment. 

11. Nature Art and Craft Workshops

  • Location: Art centres and nature reserves, such as the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centres.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Nature art and craft activities teach creativity while using natural materials, promoting a deeper connection to the environment and out natural areas. These can be a fun project for children and some places may even offer a scavenger hunt. 
  • Tips: Look for local workshops or create your own nature-inspired art projects using materials from the outdoors. These will be advertised as schools approach half-term or summer holidays. 

12. Marine and Aquarium Visits

  • Location: Visit aquariums and marine sanctuaries like The Deep in Hull or the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: This is a great opportunity to learn about marine life and conservation can instill a love for the oceans and a commitment to protecting them.
  • Tips: Participate in interactive exhibits and support institutions dedicated to marine conservation. Some aquarium’s will provide children with an activity sheet to encourage children to participate (and keep their interest). When my daughter was little, we used to find all the characters from Finding Nemo

13. Eco-Friendly Farm Stays

  • Location: Various eco-friendly farm stays across the UK, offering organic, sustainable experiences promoting an appreciating towards a more sustainable lifestyle
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Staying on eco-friendly farms can provide hands-on learning experiences in sustainable living, and enjoying the natural green space around you.
  • Tips: Research eco-friendly farm stays, look for organic and sustainable practices. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy farm-to-table experiences. Some places offer family friendly overnight stays and some may be adult only, ensure you check this at the time of booking. 

14. Wildlife Photography

  • Location: Wildlife-rich areas and nature reserves, such as the Cairngorms National Park or the Yorkshire Dales.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Wildlife photography can promote a deeper connection to nature and raise awareness about local biodiversity.
  • Tips: Invest in a good camera or use a smartphone with quality photo capabilities. Study local wildlife and its behaviour for captivating shots. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this page from the Natural History Museum. 

15. Forest Schools

  • Location: Participate in forest school programs held in various natural settings across the UK.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Forest schools foster a love for the outdoors and encourage sustainable living practices.
  • Tips: Enroll your children in a local forest school program or look for forest school-inspired activities in your area. Make sure there is always adult supervision. 

16. Canoeing and Kayaking

  • Location: Canoe or kayak in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas like the Norfolk Broads or Loch Lomond.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Paddling on water is a low-impact, eco-friendly way to explore natural surroundings.
  • Tips: Rent or bring canoes and kayaks. Follow all safety guidelines and practice responsible watercraft use.

17. Nature Conservation Volunteering

  • Location: Numerous opportunities across the UK with organisations like the National Trust or Wildlife Trusts.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Volunteering for nature conservation projects directly contributes to the preservation of ecosystems.
  • Tips: Search for local volunteering opportunities, join conservation efforts, and help protect the natural world and encourage others to do the same. Volunteering also offers the opportunity to meet and make new friends with like-minded people.

18. Eco-Friendly Cooking Classes

  • Location: Attend eco-friendly cooking classes that emphasise sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Learning to cook with environmentally conscious practices can reduce food waste and promote sustainable eating.
  • Tips: It’s a perfect time to look for cooking classes that focus on seasonal, organic, and locally sourced ingredients from local farmers. This will also help you appreciate where and how our food is produced. 

19. Solar and Wind-Powered Boat Tours

  • Location: Experience solar and wind-powered boat tours in various waterways, such as the Solar Heritage in Chichester.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Exploring waterways on eco-friendly boats demonstrates the potential for clean energy alternatives.
  • Tips: Do a little research on eco-friendly boat tours. Once you’ve booked, you can sit back, relax and enjoy a clean and green journey on the water, something you’ve probably never done before. 

20. Upcycling Workshops

  • Location: Participate in upcycling workshops, often offered by environmental organisations or someone who is passionate about upcycling.
  • Why it’s eco-friendly: Upcycling promotes creative recycling and reduces waste by giving new life to discarded items.
  • Tips: Attend upcycling workshops and learn how to repurpose and reuse materials to reduce environmental impact. This can be from repurposing an old pair of jeans into a bag, reupholstering an armchair, creating planters from old boots, using old plastic bags to create a basket, turning an old photo frame into a wipe board and so much more. The possibilities of upcycling are endless, it’s all abut using your imagination. 

In conclusion, the UK provides a wide range of eco-friendly activities for families to enjoy. These activities not only allow families to bond with each other while exploring the natural world but also instil a sense of environmental responsibility and respect for our planet. By engaging in these activities, families can play a massively significant role in preserving the beauty and biodiversity of the UK for generations to come not to mention creating core memories for their children.

Whether it’s hiking in the countryside, exploring marine life, or participating in conservation efforts, there are countless ways for families to enjoy eco-friendly adventures in the United Kingdom.

There’s probably more on your doorstep than you realise!