Earth Day Lesson Plans - Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Earth Day began in 1970 as a teach-in at universities across the country amidst concerns about pollution and sustainability. In some way or another, we all rely on natural resources. That means we all have a responsibility to use sustainable habits and avoid unnecessary pollution. Our Earth Day lesson plans give students easy strategies they can use to reduce their waste and live more sustainably.
Luckily, the waste hierarchy of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle gives us a framework for doing this. While recycling is important, ideally it is not the first approach we take to reduce our waste. It’s better that we first reduce the amount we use, and reuse things we can, before deciding to dispose of something by recycling it.
Not only are there many steps students can take to save water, electricity, plastic, and paper, many of these ideas can engage students’ creativity.
Learning to Save Electricity
We rely on electricity for just about everything. That means there are many different ways we can change our habits to use less electricity.
It takes a lot of energy to heat and cool a home, for example, let alone a bigger building such as a school or office building. There are many steps we can take to reduce our reliance on central air and heat while staying at a comfortable temperature, such as by dressing differently, opening windows or using space heaters.
Many of the ways we entertain ourselves also use electricity. TV’s, computers and phones all typically require electricity to be powered. Reducing the time we use these items is a good habit. But we should also consider unplugging unused appliances, as they use electricity if they stay plugged in. One way to make this process easier is by using power strips.
Just by taking simple steps at home, students can celebrate Earth Day by saving electricity.
Different Ways to Save Plastic
Ask your students to think—how many plastic products can you think of in 3 minutes?
We could all think of ways to use less plastic. We can start by reducing the amount of single-use plastic we use. Just by opting not to use disposable cups, silverware, or water bottles, we can significantly reduce the plastic waste we create.
One reason it’s important to reduce plastic waste is that plastic is harmful to animals and the environment. Plastic takes many years to biodegrade and can be harmful to animals in a variety of ways. It’s estimated that over 90% of seabirds have mistakenly ingested plastic!
The durability of plastic, though, makes it easy to reuse. What could students do to reuse plastic in their homes? Get your class thinking today!
Reducing Your Water Use
Water is an essential ingredient for life and covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface. But about 97.5% of water is salt water, and only a percentage of freshwater on Earth is readily available to us. This means we must be very careful about how much water we use!
Easy ways for students to save water include keeping showers short and turning off water while brushing teeth or washing dishes. Maximizing space in your dishwasher and washing machine are two other ways to use water more efficiently.
Water’s a natural resource that we all rely on. By taking just a few simple steps and educating others on the importance of water-saving habits, we can all make a positive impact on Earth Day.
Teach Good Habits with Earth Day Lessons
The spirit of the original Earth Day was to teach others the importance of using good, sustainable habits and limiting pollution as much as possible. This created additional environmental awareness, and that same year the Environmental Protection Agency was also formed to address the issues Earth Day raises.
We hope these Earth Day lesson plans can inspire your students to work to protect the environment!