Every spring, we tell ourselves that this will be the year we make a difference for Earth Day. Then, spring break and the subsequent scramble upon our return happen. Next comes standardized testing. And report cards. And a zillion different things like, oh, the curriculum. Before we realize it, it’s April 22, and we have nothing planned.
This year we’re making it easy for you. These seven environmental activities are super simple.
Bonus: You can earn a $250 grant to use toward your volunteer project simply by signing up for WE Volunteer Now. It’s a free campaign that is guaranteed to get your students excited about giving back!
1. Help your school maintenance staff.
Check in with your school grounds and custodial staff—do they need any help keeping the campus clean and beautiful? Maybe your students can sort recycling or distribute mulch. This Earth Day activity could be a win-win for you and the staff who always have your back.
2. Pick up trash in the community.
Identify a public space within walking distance where you can do a community cleanup. Students will work together to remove the trash and sort items for recycling. Be sure to take before-and-after photos to show the true change.
3. Decorate grocery bags for Earth Day.
The Earth Day Groceries Project is a free project in which students decorate paper grocery bags with environmental messages. You can contact your local grocery store for large paper grocery bags that students can decorate. A few days before Earth Day, the decorated bags are delivered to the grocery store. On Earth Day, the store will package the bags with the groceries of shoppers, who will surely be delighted by your students’ artwork.
4. Plant a garden to beautify (or feed!) your school.
If your school has on-site gardening spaces or decorative beds, work with your students to plant new flowers or seeds for spring. If no such areas are available, a school garden is an easy project to begin and one that always excites students and staff. Along with your school administration, explore the possibility of planting a kitchen garden in partnership with the cafeteria (à la the White House Kitchen Garden!) or a school community garden, which offers a plethora of living science opportunities.
5. Sign an environmental action petition.
With your students, explore the impact of petitions and letter writing to government entities. Choose online petitions to sign either individually or as a class. Some options include the Earth Day Network’s petition to protect coral reefsand The Nature Conservancy’s pledge to connect with nature.
6. Organize a local creek cleanup.
Rivers and streams provide 65 percent of our nation’s drinking water, but they are often riddled with trash. Enlist your students in a gentle cleanup for Earth Day to not only enhance the beauty of their environment but also positively impact their own water supply. Contact your local parks service if you need help identifying a safe creek in need of cleanup and also reference American Rivers tips for local water cleanup.
7. Help restore bird habitats.
Contact your closest National Audobon Society location (there are 41 centers across the country) to find out how your students can best help restore the bird habitats in your ecosystem. They will let you know if there are specific types of birdhouses your students can help build, which plants your students can grow to help local birds, and what resources your students can put out to help vulnerable bird populations in your area. You can also inquire about field trips with habitat restoration and bird walks that the local center provides!
However you choose to volunteer for Earth Day, be sure to register it with WE Volunteer Now! You will receive tons of worksheets, planning materials, and volunteer project ideas. 600 volunteer projects will be selected on a first come, first served basis to earn a $250 grant to help plan and execute the volunteer idea. Learn more and sign up today!