By Larraine Roulston:
During the 1960s, a small but vocal group of environmentalists began spreading the word about soiled beaches, unchecked pesticide use, polluted waters and toxic waste. This action led to the creation of Earth Day on April 22,1970. The activities that fired the imaginations of citizens quickly expanded Earth Day to become Earth Week. This year, to celebrate its 45th anniversary, people are encouraged to become actively involved in helping the not-for-profit Earth Day Network to continue its year-round mission of education and to reach 2 billion Acts of Green.
Teachers and students can get involved by creating earth-friendly crafts from scrap materials, cleaning up school yard litter, planting a tree, setting up nature displays, bringing waste free lunches, and inviting environmental guest speakers to share their passion. If a school doesn’t already have a nature garden, Earth Week is a great time to “dig in.” Parents can coordinate a Walk-to-School week to instill a desire to obtain more sunshine and exercise. During the week, Earth Day skits with eco-information are a great way to develop speaking skills. A workshop class can build a school composter or a classroom worm bin. Students enjoy a toy and games swap day. They might design posters explaining why idling car engines is detrimental to the environment as well as our health. Both teachers and students can tote their own trash around with them for a day, allowing them to see just how much garbage is discarded. At the end of the experiment, make a goal to reduce, reuse and recycle.
At home, take a nature hike and join a community cleanup or a tree planting expedition. Take out environmental books from the library. Develop the habit of turning off electrical gadgets when not in use. To save even more energy, hang dry your laundry and have a candlelight evening. Make a birdhouse. Plant a native tree, flowers and milkweed in your yard to attract pollinators. Set unwanted items with a “Free 2 You” sign at your curb. With a little promotion, the whole town can become involved in a week of curb shopping.
Host a neighborhood environmental tea party to discuss problems and solutions.
If your community is planning an Earth Day festival, become a volunteer. City employees usually provide a hazardous waste day collection as well as promote backyard composting by selling composters at subsidized costs and including free compost to citizens who bring pails and shovels. Any group can organize a clothing drive.
At work, challenge colleagues to pack waste free lunches and lug-a-mug for all beverages; if possible, walk, carpool or take public transportation; post eco-facts on a bulletin board; if you haven’t already done so, set up a container to collect batteries and unwanted e-waste; install more recycling containers and reduce the number of garbage cans. Earth Week is a great time for garden centers to demonstrate composting. Posting a special “Earth Week Meal by Candlelight” consisting of locally grown, organic, fair trade, and ethically sourced dairy and meat is an option for restaurants. In other words, every business or organization has a unique opportunity to be creative and promote its company’s green philosophy.
Solutions range from our efforts to lessen pollution of the air we breathe to cleansing our oceans. As a friend of mine (a nuclear energy watchdog) once claimed, “If everybody just took on one environmental issue, the earth would be a better place.” Some events require preparation, while others are a change of habit. Are we ready to make every week Earth Week?
Larraine authors the children’s adventure series Pee Wee at Castle Compost.