How to Go Green at School for Earth Day 2011 - Ideas for Earth Day Activities and Beyond
It can be difficult to know how to plan Earth Day activities that will make a difference and have an impact beyond the day. This article will help you focus your energies and propel the school forward in at least one important way. Take a look at these Earth Day activities that will help your school go green for Earth Day and every day. April 22, 2011 is Earth Day, and the question on the minds of many educators and administrators is how to carry out Earth Day activities that will engage the school community and have a lasting impact on the school and environment. The diverse celebrations for Earth Day mark our evolving relationship with our planet, but are they effective activities? How to go green at school for Earth Day without being simplistic or turning the celebration into a one-day event is a not always an easy task. But finding a niche that your school can focus on will unify efforts and provide a fun rallying point. Here are three niche areas and ideas for their corresponding Earth Day activities. 1. Eco-friendly products Simple choices in school supplies and cleaning products can have a big impact on the quality of the indoor environment and the ecological footprint of the school. Choose products that are non-toxic for cleaner indoor air and to minimize the health risk associated with harsh chemicals. Look for products that are made of recycled materials, and that can be recycled themselves. Products that can help reduce the amount of waste should be preferred over products that generate a lot of waste. Earth Day Activity: Switch from regular disposable markers to AusPen eco-friendly markers and help the students understand the impact of this simple act of green. AusPen dry-erase markers are non-toxic (eliminating harmful toxins), they are made of recycled materials (conserving resources), and they are refillable (reducing waste). Classrooms and schools that make the switch can calculate their waste-savings. An average-size school could save approximately 450 pounds of toxic waste per year from hitting the local landfill. 2. Conservation Focusing on actions around the school to conserve energy and resources can create a school community that is aware of its impact and proud of its accomplishments. A school that uses as much natural light as possible, that uses whiteboard slates instead of scrap paper, and that conserves energy used by electronics can enjoy significant cost and energy savings. Earth Day Activity: Track the lights and energy habits of your classroom, or of the whole school over a period of time. Create teams of students and teachers that can monitor parts of the school, or certain activities like turning off unused lights and electronics or making sure taps are not dripping. Signs can be posted around the school to urge people to think twice before printing or photocopying, and awards can be presented to the classes with the best energy and resource-saving practices. 3. School yard greening A green school yard can offer a natural play space for students, as well as provide a learning environment and opportunity for them to develop their stewardship skills. Class lessons can incorporate school yard greening activities such as tending to gardens, having classes outdoors in the shade, and worm composting, which turns food scraps into high quality compost and fertilizer. Earth Day Activity: Rather than going to the local park to pick up litter, plan for the students to start or build upon school yard greening efforts. Some simple steps would be to lay down mulch in gardens or around trees, plant garden plots that the classes can take turns taking care of, install rain water barrels, or begin a worm composting program in the class. Any fresh flowers, herbs and vegetables grown in the school plots could be used for the school or given to local food organizations. Wherever schools across North America are on the spectrum of eco awareness, there can be little doubt that the environment is a universal concern and schools are celebrating Earth Day in a diversity of ways. The next generation will come less to see Earth Day as a day to remember the plight of the earth as it is an opportunity to celebrate their year-long activities and achievements.