On April 22, communities across the world will celebrate Earth Day. Students can seize this opportunity to raise awareness and educate their parents and friends about the importance of caring not only for the planet, but their local community as well. Here are some high-impact ideas for students to make a difference this Earth Day:
Plant a tree
Leaves trap and filter pollutants; they also provide cooling shade in hot urban environments. Here’s another fun fact: An acre of mature trees can potentially absorb the CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles!
Do you know a neighborhood in need of trees? If you live in the Detroit area like we do, you can help “green” your community by applying for The Greening of Detroit’s Community Tree Planting Program. If you live in another part of the country, visit sites like Arbor Day Now, Trees for the Future, or ForestNation for more information about planting a tree.
Promote environmental responsibility through your student organization
Your student groups may not yet be environmentally conscious, but we’ve got a simple way to change that:
Encourage your student organizations to hold a tree kit fundraiser! Selling tree planting kits raises awareness, supports environmental efforts at home and around the globe, and raises money for school organizations at the same time. For every tree kit planted, another tree is planted elsewhere. This is made possible through a partnership between The Earth Day Network and ForestNation.
Buy in bulk—or better yet, skip the packaging altogether
Instead of purchasing individual packages, try to buy in bulk. Better yet, support a local organic garden and buy food without packaging. Purchasing fresh food not only decreases packaging, it keeps you healthy and reduces waste. Urban farms reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of miles food must travel to make it to a grocery store thereby decreasing fuel consumption in the shipping process.
Take part in community spring clean-up efforts
This one is easy, free, and requires little equipment beyond a good pair of gloves. Snow is melting, revealing our long winter’s dirty secrets - trash. It’s everywhere. Go pick it up, even if it’s not yours. Check your community newspaper to find clean-up initiatives in your area.
Take care of your local wildlife
Birds are perfectly capable of building their own nests, so why should we build homes for them? It’s unfortunate, but as a result of deforestation and human development, animals are increasingly losing their homes. Helping birds find a new home is easier than you might think. All you need are a few supplies, most of which you’ll probably have lying around the house. Below you’ll find instructions for building your own birdhouse.
What you’ll need
- One empty half-gallon cardboard milk carton
- Approximately two feet of wire—light enough to bend, strong enough to hold the weight of the birdhouse
- Two nails and a hammer
- Dried grass
- Waterproof packing tape
What you’ll do
- First, completely open up the top of the carton and wash it with soap
- Take the scissors and cut a hole about the size of a doorknob in one side of the milk carton, a few inches below the top folds. This is the “door.”
- On the other side of the carton, make two holes—one above the other with a nail. The top hole should be about 1/3 of the way down from the top. The bottom hole should be 1/3 of the way up from the bottom
- Now put the wire through the top nail hole, along the inside of the carton and out the bottom hole
- Make a bed for the birds by putting dried grass inside
- Close the top of the carton and seal it with tape
- Find a pole or tree outside that’s not surrounded by other trees, poles, or buildings
- Bang the nails in with the hammer, about a foot apart, one above the other
- Hang the birdhouse on the nails by wrapping one end of the wire around one nail, and the other end around the other nail. Make sure it’s good and tight so the carton will stay up!