Hoping to show Mother Earth a little love this Earth Day? Although our world deserves love every day, Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to spread that love. If all of us in the Academic Year in America (AYA) community were to choose just one small thing to do for the planet (and not for ourselves), we’d have the power as a group to truly make the world a better place. On Earth Day, we can start with at least one of the ideas below.
Here are 10 small ways to volunteer and make a difference this Earth Day:
1. Clean up a local beach.
Over 14 billion pounds of trash are dumped into the ocean each year. To put that into perspective: there are more pounds of trash in our oceans than there are people on Earth! Help change that by cleaning up a local beach for a few hours and leaving it in a better state than when you started.
2. Plant a garden at your home or school.
Another fun way to give Mother Earth some love this Earth Day is planting a garden at your home or school! If your school already has a garden, you could either plant a new garden at home or add to an existing one.
3. Scan your neighborhood for litter.
Even if you don’t participate in an organized trash clean-up, keep an eye out for trash in your neighborhood. Pick up any stray piece of litter you see and encourage your friends and/or family to do the same! Small steps make a big difference.
4. Sign an environmental action petition.
What’s one environmental cause that you’re passionate about? Earth Day is the perfect time to sign a petition about a cause you believe in.
5. Start a conversation.
Aside from signing a petition, you could also talk to your exchange student(s) or host family about environmental actions that their local community has taken. By starting a conversation, we open up the floor to new ideas and positive change.
6. Help restore bird habitats.
Make your community friendlier and more inviting for all creatures – not just people. Research ways to restore bird habitats in your local area and get a group together to enact change.
7. Buy a reusable water bottle.
Did you know that more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day? If you haven’t yet made the switch from single use water bottles to reusable, make a change on Earth Day. Bonus points for telling your friends to do the same!
8. Plant a tree.
Get your hands a little dirty and plant a tree! An especially great activity in urban areas, tree planting volunteer activities help restore the balance between natural habitats and the communities of people living in them.
9. Clean vacant lots in the community.
Have you noticed any vacant lots filled with litter in your local area? Buy a few trash bags and spend a half hour cleaning a vacant lot. You’ll be surprised by how much accumulates, how much is ignored, and how rewarded you’ll feel afterwards.
10. Unplug and spend time outside.
Most importantly, be sure to spend time outdoors this Earth Day! Volunteer to leave your phone at home, unplug for the afternoon, and enjoy some fresh air. Go on a walk, a bike ride, or sit on a park bench and simply admire the world around you.
Perhaps if we all appreciate our planet a bit more, we’ll be more motivated to take steps to protect it – and to improve it from the state we found it in.
Are you an AYA exchange student, Local Coordinator, or host family? Have any volunteer activities planned this Earth Day? We’d love to hear from you – click here to share your story with us!