Just like Valentine’s Day, I do not understand why we need one specific day to appreciate love for one another, or in the case of April 22nd, love for the Earth! Of course this should be a daily thing that we always appreciate and never take for granted. However, events like Earth Hour, Earth Day, Plastic Free July, Zero Waste Week, and International Compost Day, are great awareness campaigns and inspire new individuals every year to do SOMETHING.
Some I have heard call it Earth Month, and, as a teacher, it is a beautiful time to start talking about the Earth and getting students involved, as it is the time of the year when the Earth is waking up, sprouting its colours, scents, and sounds whenever we step outside. What are your plans for Earth Day? Here are some things you can try; what better time to be inspired?
- start a compost bin this spring, or a worm bin in your class; your soil, the Earth, and thousands of microorganisms will thank you! See Compost Like a Boss.
- start a garden, plant a tree, or grow some veggies in a pot; options are plenty!
- do a community/school pitch-in week to pick up the trash around your neighbourhood/school. Remember to strike up the conversation about how to avoid producing this trash in the first place.
- take a walk in a forest with a friend or with your class; if kids are immersed in nature, they are more likely to care for it because of their connection to it.
- do your lessons outside; easily done with LA, Science, Gym, Art, etc.; they have cabin fever, and we must help!
- Read Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods“, and discover why nature is so important for individuals, especially children, to experience.
- analyze your habits. How much trash do you produce daily? How many garbage bags do you take out per week? How can you reduce this? Can you better your water or electricity usage? How can you make your home more energy efficient? Could you be walking/biking places instead of driving? There are endless possibilities for change.
- hang your clothes outside; the sun is out and warm, no dryer necessary.
- start with the “Man in the Mirror” (shameless MJ reference). We all WANT some form of change, but what are we DOING about it? You are in charge of your choices. You cannot make choices for others, just as others cannot make choices for you, but you can make the choice for yourself; a choice for the better.
- Whether it is Earth Day, Plastic Free July, or August 27th, change one small thing, and that will make all the difference (shameless Robert Frost reference).
Earth Day is not the only thing that inspired me to write. The other morning I had set up the iPad on my kitchen table, sat facing the window, and Skyped with my mom who lives in England. The sky beyond the window was so immaculately blue; I yearned to go outside. The week had been stressful, wearing heavily on my shoulders, so I bid my mother farewell, put on my shoes, and headed out.
Just down the hill from my house lies a beautiful wetland where every spring our Canadian geese return to have their young. I walked along the wood-chipped path, until I came to a bench that overlooked the water. I sat, listened, and watched. The sounds that chimed in my ear were beautiful; the water lapping against the shore, the crunching of the ground beneath feet, a dog bark, and the birds. Birds floated in the water, flew circles in the air, and called to each other. The sounds were amazing, and it that moment I wished I could bottle them up and share them with someone else who was having a rotten day.
My other inspiration was a coffee date with a childhood friend, one I have known since I first stepped upon Canadian soil in 1995. Though we do not meet regularly, every conversation with her inspires me. Not only in her educational philosophy, or her dedication to her passions, but also her strength, mindfulness, and her growing awareness for nature and our effect on it. Every conversation I learn something new, and have new appreciation for the changes I have made, and that others are making.
Have a Happy Earth Day! What will you be doing?