This year, celebrate Earth Day with students by creating change through environmental action.
As April 22 draws near, people around the globe are preparing to celebrate the 46th-annual Earth Day. What began in the United States on April 22, 1970 with approximately 20 million Americans has grown into a global day of environmental action as more than 1 billion people around the world participate in Earth Day change, according to the Earth Day Network.
Environmentalism always resonates with students, so help focus and capitalize on their enthusiasm by doing some of these activities in your classroom.
Dear Earth Day Diary
During the days leading up to Earth Day, discuss with students the different steps they can take to make a positive environmental impact on Earth Day. Ask students to record a detailed account of their Earth Day activities. Tell them to remain open to finding unplanned ways to help the environment throughout April 22 and record those as well. During the class following Earth Day, ask each student to read his or her entry to share the knowledge they acquired, stories of anyone whom they might have touched through their works, and plans they might have already developed for the 2017 event.
Clean Up Crew
Challenge students to collect litter that they find around the school and their homes on Earth Day. Outline supplies they will need, including protective gloves, a trash bag, and safe disposal site. Advise students to collect only items that are safe to pickup, such as bottles, cans, food packaging, newspapers, and magazines. Teachers who live in states that return bottle deposits at recycling centers should encourage students to collect refunds from these items and donate the proceeds to a reputable environmental-protection cause.
Start a Movement
As young adults, high school students are paying attention to world issues, such as politics, social changes, and environmental threats. Encourage students to start an environmental protection group similar to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which can work with the school to implement more eco-friendly policies and educate fellow classmates regarding environmentalism. This group’s first task should be to raise money for supporting the Earth Day Network’s donation drive. The organization is collecting funds to plant trees in different communities. For every dollar raised, the organization will plant one tree — a small cost for big environmental impact.
Saving Pollinator Habitat
In addition to planting trees, students can help fight the decline of our pollinator population by building habitats for these important creatures. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provides information regarding how to create an environment in which bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats can thrive. The Pollinator Partnership is the world’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to saving pollinators and preserving their habitats. Students can contact the organization to learn more about issues that are threatening pollinators and how they can become involved in saving these beings that are crucial to the ecosystem.
Becoming Social for Earth Day
We all know the power social media has to spread news and share information at a fast, viral rate. Ask students to use their social media accounts for good while performing their Earth Day activities. Whether they use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumbler, students can expand the reach of their Earth Day activities through sharing these efforts via social media. For maximum exposure, remind students of popular Earth Day hashtags, such as #EarthDay, #EarthDay2016, #EarthDayEveryDay, and #24Seven — a tag that allows posts to be included in NASA’s all-day social media Earth Day campaign. Other hashtags that students can use are #GoGreen, #GlobalGoals, #ZeroWaste, #SustainableLiving, #Environment, #Pollinators, and #TreePlanting, if a post relates to a specific environmental activity.
The key to Earth Day efforts having a lasting effect is to observe it each day. Check in with students during the weeks following Earth Day to encourage continued attention to promoting the Earth’s wellness. Talk about environmental issues like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch regularly in your classroom to increase students’ awareness and impact the decisions they make every day.