April 22, 2020 officially marks the 50th year of celebrating Earth Day. Even during this period of social isolation, people are taking a thoughtful look at the natural world around them and the consequences of human action (and inaction).
Urban dwellers are hearing birds sing and the flapping of wings. Los Angeles has had the longest stretch of clean air in countless years. Less noise pollution in our oceans is a welcome relief to sea life. Research has shown that ambient noise from ship engines can increase stress-hormone levels in marine creatures.
Creating awareness and encouraging sustainable action to support a healthy environment is a major part of the Earth Day celebration. Here’s what you should know about the holiday, and some ideas for how you might commemorate it.
Quick Earth Day Facts
- The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and was organized by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin). Nelson wanted to raise awareness about environmental issues.
- 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day. People took to the streets, college campuses, and towns and cities around the USA to launch a wave of action.
- Due to this action, the U.S. government created the EPA and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were created. Other countries started to adopt similar laws.
- By 1990, Earth Day was celebrated by people in 140+ countries.
Earth Day 2020
- This year, Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22.
- The Earth Day 2020 theme is climate action.
- Due to the pandemic, the world is shifting to celebrate online.
Resources for Celebrating Earth Day
Scroll to the bottom of the web page for stories, quizzes, and Earth Day tips.
Celebrate Earth Day with these tips for helping our environment.
Good Housekeeping has some a-little-goes-a-long-way ideas when it comes to being greener.
Promote environmental awareness with these teaching ideas, lesson plans, and student activities.
Check out the Earth Day Toolkit containing resources, visuals, videos, and ebooks.
Free COVID-19 access to six math and science games for class, home, or remote. Teachers will need to create an account.
10 Earth Day quizzes to try.
Check out this 2:55-minute YouTube video on the history of the day.
More Earth Day Resources for teachers and students are available here.
My blog post from 2019 has picture books, videos, TED-Ed videos, and so many more resources
Three Simple Things You Can Do Today
1. Stop Drinking Out of Plastic Water Bottles
Replace your single-use plastic bottles with a plastic, glass, or stainless steel reusable bottle. The cool thing about using a reusable bottle is you can bling it out with stickers and such. At my house, we buy our drinking water from a local water company in two- and three-gallon containers, only $4.50 for nine gallons of water.
2. Turn Off Your Lights When You Leave the Room
I have become the light police at my house during the pandemic. I walk around the house shutting off lights that no one bothers to turn off. Yes, I have turned into my mother and father.
3. Turn Off the Faucet
Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth and washing your hands (often!).
My Earth Day Challenge to You
Nature Appreciation Walk or Drive
Try to get out of your house and take a walk. Listen for birds singing, trees budding, and flowers blooming. If you are lucky enough to live in Central Texas, take a family drive and check out the Indian Paintbrush, Bluebonnet, or the Indian Blanket wildflowers along the roadside.
Earth Day and Zoom
If you are meeting with your students in Zoom, have them share out about a nature walk or an Earth Day-actionable item they are trying at home. For the littles, maybe they can draw a picture or build a flower out of LEGOs.
You might even give a fun Earth Day quiz using the Zoom chat feature with the yes/no options. Another idea is to use the Zoom Whiteboard and play Pictionary with Earth words: tree, flower, cloud, ocean, recycle, compost, bees, rainforest, Earth, paper, plastic, glass, seeds, reuse, and pollution.
Along with my turn-off-the-lights duty, I am using my ceramic coffee mug, filling the dishwasher full, and planting perennials instead of annuals. Perennials are the way to go as they keep coming up year after year. Feel free to drop a note in the comments as I would love to hear how you and your students are celebrating Earth Day 2020.