Earth Day 2018: Ending Plastic Pollution

Earth Day is Sunday, the 22nd of April. This year’s focus is on changing behaviors about plastics. Organizers of the Earth Day campaign explain:

“From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.”  

What are you and your school doing to celebrate and educate this Earth Day? If you’re haven’t decided yet, we have some ideas and activities you might consider!

Make The Case

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Help students to understand the importance of ‘thinking green’ and incorporating Earth-friendly behaviors into their every day lives. We might only celebrate Earth Day once a year, but sustainable living is something we can and should practice every day.

Share stories that illustrate the ways in which the planet sustains us and inspire awe in the beauty of nature. Titles like The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth will excite younger students to investigate what the Earth is actually made up of and what's under the surface we can see. The Story Tree and Other Nature Tales is a collection of nature-inspired stories that are delightful for the whole family and will help to foster a love for the planet. Older students may be spurred into actions by titles like This Moment On Earth, in which Senator John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry share research findings and personal observations about the environmental movement in America.

Plan Your Actions

Walk through your day and identify areas for ecological improvement. This can be a fun and illuminating activity for all ages. Start with opening your eyes in the morning and make a careful examination of your routine daily habits. Brainstorm ways in which you can make changes to reduce your plastic waste and make considerations for the environment.

Young children can identify how an action like using a reusable water bottle reduces the number of disposed plastic bottles. Make these impacts more concrete with visual aids. If each student in your class used just one bottle of water each day, how many bottles would that be? How many is that in a week? How much space do all those empty bottles take up? Collect recyclables to make a visual demonstration. 

Older students can evaluate their own opportunities for making an impact. Encourage them to research the lifecycle of every day plastics and disposables to better understand how changing their behaviors can impact the planet. Does your school support planet-friendly behaviors? For example, if students bring reusable cups or water bottles to school, are there fountains or bottle filling stations? If not, maybe your students can work to petition for change. Change can start small, like hosting bake sales to raise funds for a set of reusable water bottles for a sports team.

Have you heard of The Last Plastic Straw Movement? Over 500,000,000 straws are used each day in the US and the vast majority are thrown away after a very short useful life. Making a small change, as simple as saying, "no straw please" can make a big impact on plastic pollution.

Be the Change

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Once you’ve identified opportunities for change, put your plans into motion and create ways to keep each other accountable. To keep interest high, try listening to a story (fiction or non-fiction) that keeps the planet and nature front and center. Even fictional stories help maintain focus and re-invigorate commitment to change plans. 

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