Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held in 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally, including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries.

On Earth Day last year, over 100 million people around the world observed the 50th anniversary in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilisation in history.

Climate strike protesters marching in Birmingham city centre in 2019Adam Yosef
Climate strike protesters marching in Birmingham city centre in 2019

For the 51st Earth Day this year, the theme is Restore Our Earth and features five primary programs: The Canopy Project, Food and Environment, Climate Literacy, the Global Earth Challenge, and The Great Global CleanUp.

Events and activities to mark the awareness day will be held from April 20, ahead of Earth Day on Thursday.

Earth Day 2021 begins today with a global youth climate summit led by Earth Uprising, in collaboration with My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs and hundreds of youth climate activists.

The virtual global youth summit will consist of panels, speeches, discussions, and special messages with today’s youth climate activists including Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villaseñor, and Licypriya Kangujam.

Also today, the Hip Hop Caucus and its partners will present the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit. This digital event will examine climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality, and the pandemic, all within a racial justice framework.

Hundreds of climate strike protesters in Birmingham's Victoria Square in 2019Adam Yosef
Hundreds of climate strike protesters in Birmingham’s Victoria Square in 2019

Help to restore the planet on Earth Day

Activists like Greta Thunberg are joining this year’s 48 hours of global action. And as former primary school teacher Abby Milnes of education resource experts PlanBee shows, even the youngest children can get into the spirit of the day with simple activities near to home

A whopping 70 percent of teachers said say they don’t feel they have been properly trained to teach about climate change, with 40 percent saying it was rarely even mentioned in their school, according to a recent poll by TeacherTapp.

According to organisers, “It’s all the more important that we can join the movement to educate ourselves, and our children, on the need to protect the global environment.”

Activists like Greta Thunberg are joining this year’s 48 hours of global action for Earth Day Adam Yosef
Activists like Greta Thunberg are joining this year’s 48 hours of global action for Earth Day

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day provides a way for people to demonstrate support for environmental protection and to teach each other about environmental issues.

It was first held in 1970 in the US and has now grown to international dimensions, with events across the globe. These aim to encourage people to come together and join the world leaders to discuss what we can do to prevent the potential disasters which could result result from climate change.

They include a global youth summit which consisting of panels, speeches and discussions featuring today’s youth climate activists, including Greta Thunberg.

Students outside the Birmingham Council House as part of global Climate Strike protests in 2019Emily Lowes
Students outside the Birmingham Council House as part of global Climate Strike protests in 2019

This year’s theme is ‘Restore Our Earth’.

April 21st will focus on the education of children in schools and the crucial role that educators play in ensuring that future generations have a good knowledge of what climate change is, and the steps that can be taken to combat its effects.

On the 22nd there will be an online global climate summit with workshops, panels and performances on topics such as climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, equity and environmental justice, citizen science, cleanups, and more.

Hundreds of Climate Strike protesters marching through Birmingham city centre in 2019Adam Yosef
Hundreds of Climate Strike protesters marching through Birmingham city centre in 2019

Why join in?

Earth Day offers everyone, young and old, a chance to join together in a common cause: to make changes to combat the effects of and reduce further climate change.

It is the perfect opportunity to help to educate the younger generations on steps we can all take to help our environment in the short term, as well as changes we can make to our lifestyles to make changes in the long run.



How can I join in?

Your Earth Day activities can be as large or as small as you want them to be.

Taking a walk around your local area to learn more about nature is a good way to mark Earth Day Arek Adeoye
Taking a walk around your local area to learn more about nature is a good way to mark Earth Day

Take a walk

This is something everyone can participate in, no matter their age. Take a walk around your local area and take note of all the different animals, insects and plants you can spot. How many different kinds can you spot? You may like to use these free identification charts for birds to help you.

Or create a scavenger hunt for each other, you could use these I Spy Outdoor Challenge Cards as a starting point.

Encourage younger children to identify where plants are growing, and where they are more likely to find insects – for example, under logs, stones or dark damp spots.

Older children may be encouraged to think about the food chains that they can see. What does a caterpillar eat? Does anything then eat the caterpillar?

This could lead into discussions about biodiversity and what may happen if you took away a food source such as leaves and grass. What would happen to the caterpillars, and their predators?

One of the main focus of this year’s Earth Day activities is cleaning up our environmentiStock/EMPRA/Supplied
One of the main focus of this year’s Earth Day activities is cleaning up our environment

Clean-ups

One of the main focus of this year’s Earth Day activities is cleaning up our environment to make sure waste ends up in the right place. Recycling is becoming easier and easier to do and commonplace in the UK, but there are still some areas that end up covered in litter.

Why not take a look around on your walk and do your bit to clear up litter? Most councils will have litter-picking equipment available to book out to use in a litter pick.

Why not organise some of your local community to help? Or think even bigger and tackle a larger area such as a local park or beach. You can even register your cleanup on the Earth Day website!

Learn new ways to cook meals with meat replacements, or just tasty ways to cook vegetables in different waysNathan Dumlao
Learn new ways to cook meals with meat replacements, or just tasty ways to cook vegetables in different ways

Meat-free Mondays

Everyone has a ‘foodprint’. This is the environmental impacts that are associated with growing, transporting, storing of and producing our foods.

While vegetarian and vegan diets can help reduce your foodprint, you don’t have to give up your favourite foods for good. How about having a meat-free day? Learn new ways to cook meals with meat replacements, or just tasty ways to cook vegetables in different ways!

Do a taste test with your children. Do they prefer roasted, steamed or boiled carrots? Try new fruits for dessert and have your children help you prepare them. Life skills and new experiences in the same move!

Create a garden together to celebrate and protect the environment iStock/EMPRA/Supplied
Create a garden together to celebrate and protect the environment

Gardening

Create a garden together. Whether it is a window box, a vegetable patch or just a single herb plant, teach your children how to care for a plant and keep it healthy.

Even better if you get to use the fruits (and/or vegetables) of your labour in a new recipe!

Save energy and water

Ask your children think about the energy and water being used at school and at home. How can we make sure we don’t waste energy and water unnecessarily? Challenge the children to create posters to put up around the area to remind users to turn off lights or the tap when they aren’t’t being used.

These Waters Scarcity lessons may be a suitable resource for this!

PlanBee is passionate about creating age-appropriate resources to help primary school teachers, and parents feel confident when educating children about climate change. Their carefully designed ESR (Education for Social Responsibility) curriculum challenges children aged five to 11 to explore what climate change is and how it can affect not only humans but the world around us.

Earthday.org has a bank of educational resources to use with children of all ages to contribute to and learn about the environment around them.


To find out more about Earth Day and online virtual gatherings to mark the event, visit: www.earthday.org.

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