In case you forgot, Earth Day is just around the corner! To help you celebrate, we’re sharing three activities from a book we’ve been reading called The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth.
Pack a no-garbage lunch
You may not know it, but lunch trash is the second-largest source of waste in American schools! Every year, Americans discard 380 billion plastic bags and nearly 2.7 billion juice boxes—and just think about all of the other items that we turn into trash every day!
To cut down on waste, try packing a no-garbage lunch. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use a brown paper bag. When you’re done with it, save and reuse for tomorrow’s lunch
- Even better, pack your lunch in a lunchbox; you can reuse a lunchbox for years!
- Carry a sandwich or other food in a reusable container
- Save your zip-lock bags; these can be rinsed and reused
- Buy snacks in large packages instead of individual ones. Not only do you get more food, you also get less packaging
- Bring more natural snacks. When you eat apples and bananas, your “packaging” is always biodegradable
- Bring your milk or juice in a reusable thermos
- Instead of using paper napkins, bring a cloth napkin
Be a Water-Leak Detective
Even a tiny leak can waste a lot of water. For example, a leak that fills up a coffee cup in 10 minutes will waste 3,000 gallons of water in a year! Cutting down on water waste is not only good for the environment, but it can also be a useful learning activity at school.
For example, students at the Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School in Bel Air, Maryland investigated their school to find leaks; then they analyzed how much water was being wasted by leaky faucets in their school. After crunching some numbers, the students all wrote letters explaining the problem and sent them to the faculty to find solutions.
Here’s a simple way to check toilets for leaks:
- Take the top off the toilet tank. Now put about 12 drops of red or blue food coloring in the tank
- Wait about 15 minutes. Guard the toilet so no one uses it while you’re waiting
- Now look in the toilet. If colored water shows up in the bowl, you’ve found a leak!
Raise awareness about endangered species
When students hear about “endangered species,” many of them think about animals that are thousands of miles and many continents away. Unfortunately, there are many endangered species in our home states. In Michigan, where we live, the northern long-eared bat, the Kirtland’s warbler, the Hine’s emerald dragonfly and the piping plover are all on the endangered species list—and these are only a few of the species listed! So what can students do about this?
- Sign the Endangered Species Act Legacy Pledge
- Find out about an endangered species living in your area
- After learning about the species, draw a picture of it, write an accompanying letter, and send it to your congressperson.