History and Activities for Earth Day!
Well, it’s just about Earth day again, April 22, which means another year of humans being sustained by our large, round, blue-green home. Earth day is the day we set outside to say thanks to this planet and to reflect on what we can do to make this a better home for all of us.
Using this day as an opportunity to inform others and promote activities that help maintain a healthy planet is what earth day is all about, and I highly encourage you to do so. With that in mind, I want to talk a little about Earth Day’s history, and ideas for projects in schools and the workplace to help commemorate the day. In honor of the day you can also enjoy “eco-thriller” ‘Ransomed Earth’ by Leo Coalson on Geeker!
History of Earth Day
Earth day was created to commemorate the creation of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Though there had been many ecologists and individuals who took great pride in the natural world – for example, Teddy Roosevelt and his mass expansion of protected national parks – it was in 1970 that Senator Gaylord Nelson pushed for a national day centered on education and promotion of a healthy earth. Earth Day and its popularity subsequently led to Congress passing the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
– John Muir, Earth Day Quotes
By 1990 Earth Day had gone global and could be seen making waves in over 140 countries. Something about making this planet better just seems to catch on with people.
Today, Earth Day takes on a whole new meaning with the rise of climate change in global debates and the precarious situation the pollution in industrializing nations like India and China are increasingly putting us in.
Earth Day Activities for Schools
Earth Day activities for schools are always some of the more memorable events, especially when they involve taking a trip outside. There are plenty of great ideas for how to get kids and young adults engaged. Outside of community service like planting trees or picking up trash, there is a wealth of fun lessons that can be used to teach about the day and the environment in general.
The EPA website has a whole bunch of Free Earth Day activities, teaching aids and lesson plans available. They include class lessons, coloring books and much more. The grade range is typically k-12 or 6-12. The site also has a great list of community service activities you can do to benefit your community.
Typically, as long as you are promoting understanding of important environmental issues, and distilling a love for nature within the kids, you’ve had a successful day.
Earth Day Activities for Adults
Earth Day activities for adults or Earth Day activities for the workplace can actually be more fun than they sound. Pinterest always has some great ideas and tips for projects like community gardening, home energy audits, and spring cleaning/donation drives. A workplace organic party may even turn some people on to better food or give them ideas on how eating better may be possible.
Motivating people to get outside and just go for a hike may awaken a bit of their ecologist in them. I know I’m guilty of working too often and not getting outdoors as much as I should. The same goes for many others. It’s hard to love something if you never see it.
So, get outside, get cleaning – it doesn’t matter all that much what it is, as long as it’s helping us all take a small step towards a better planet.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
— Native American Proverb
While things like the March for Science are exactly the kind of engagement I think the US needs as a whole, there are many things we can do as individuals to benefit the planet. While many topics seem to have become hot-button political issues, most of us can agree on an enjoyment of nature and the beauty it brings. Meeting someone halfway and just saying “You don’t have to agree to that, but I know you understand the importance of maintaining a clean community.” can go a long way.
Global issues require efforts on a global scale, but sometimes the biggest difference we can make is just outside our front door.