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Zooey Deschanel has become more and more passionate about protecting the environment as she's grown older, but one major life change has had the biggest impact on her advocacy, she says: becoming a parent.
"Having kids made me very aware of environmental issues," the New Girl actress and mom of two, 41, tells PEOPLE. "I want the world they grow up in to be a healthy one. She shares son Charlie Wolf, 3, and daughter Elsie Otter, 5, with ex-husband Jacob Pechenik.
"I have grown a lot as I learn more," she admits of her environmental activism, "but [my kids] are exactly why I'm passionate about it."
The She & Him musician, who is dating Property Brothers star Jonathan Scott, recently teamed up with home fragrance brand Air Wick, who has committed to helping the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) seed one billion square feet of native wildflower habitat over the next three years.
"Not only are wildflowers pretty, but they are very important for our ecosystem," Deschanel says. "They provide critical habitat for pollinators, can improve soil health, prevent erosion, increase yields, make better foraging conditions for livestock and even improve water quality. They're essential."
Deschanel says her knowledge of wildflowers and their pollinators grew after she made a series with Attn: called Your Food's Roots, which she hosted and taught viewers about where their food comes from.
"We made an episode about honey and honey bees, and that sparked my initial interest in wildflowers and the importance they also have to our environment and animals as well," she says.
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Now, she admits she's not the most avid gardener — "I do not have a green thumb," she jokes — but she and her kids do like to grow things in their garden at home.
They recently planted some wildflowers, she says, admitting, "They're really easy to grow and we have had so much fun watching them sprout up."
She's also been incorporating more eco-friendly practices into their home, teaching the kids the importance of sustainability along the way. "There are so many things to do at home to make your household more sustainable — small things like using reusable bags and water bottles to larger things like investing in solar panels to power your home," she says.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for everyone, Deschanel admits that being able to stay home and spend quality time with her kids — gardening, crafting and playing — has been an undeniable blessing.
Zooey Deschanel /Twitter
"I love being home with my kids so much," she says. "A house full of kids laughing is the most joyful house."
"I do love working though and it will be nice to get back to some semblance of normalcy," she adds, sharing that she and Scott are "working on a lot of different projects with friends" and that her new show, Celebrity Dating Game comes out in June. "But I'll always cherish the time I've had with them."