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Earth Day Activities in most schools drive me crazy because I don’t think they are very environmental at all. Three common examples are turning off the lights, picking up litter, and bringing “Litterless Lunches.” Turning off the lights for an hour delivers the wrong message to children (see video below), picking up litter in the school yard is a weak environmental initiative, and “Litterless Lunches” mostly focus on moving the trash from school to home.

Here are a few ideas for activities that avoid the ones mentioned above:

Turning the Lights Out for Earth Hour…what a bad idea!


The Copenhagen Consensus released this video that aims to pick apart what Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish academic, (author of the 2001 book The Skeptical Environmentalist) believes to be Earth Hour’s errant messaging—and its prevalence in our schools.

Swap Your Toys Event

Children bring in their old toys, video games and books and trade them for something else of interest. The idea is that we all have too much stuff and we can trade/recycle what we have as an alternative to always buying more new things.

Choosing Recyclable Products

Make a list of commonly used products that are recyclable or are made from recycled materials.

The recycling symbol with a number inside is found on many plastic items that are not actually recyclable in municipal Blue Box programs. Find out what the numbers mean and then find out which types of plastic are recyclable in your area and which ones cannot be recycled.

Teacher reference sites



Excess Packaging 

What is “excessive packaging”? Consider the reasons (health, safety, consumer satisfaction, price, are examples) why packaging exists. Find some examples of excess packaging and talk about why these products qualify.

Staying Away From Bottled Water


A college student’s 5 minute video on why we should stop using bottled water on campuses.  Nicely done and easy for school-age kids to understand.