About the event
International Mother Earth Day (also known simply as Earth Day) recognises that the Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance. It also aims to raise awareness that humans have a collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature and to balance the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.
Originally inspired by an oil spill off the coast of California in 1969, Earth Day was founded to demonstrate support for environmental protection and promote love for the planet. Set at the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere the first day was held in 1970 in the US, with the day going international in 1990.
With 20 million people joining on the original day, Earth Day has consistently seen some of the largest mobilisations of people in recorded history. 100 million were reportedly involved for 2020. All this began with a small group of committed activists in California. This is a day to marvel at the power of collective organising, to celebrate our planet and to fight for its protection.
How to approach it
There are two key things to focus on for Earth Day. Firstly, cultivate a love and understanding for the environment. This can be done in many ways. You could watch any of the excellent nature documentaries about animals, plantlife or weather systems. You could take students on a trip outside to the local beach, forest, park, or community garden. You could teach a lesson that relates to your subject such as the science of climate change, an introduction to ecology, the love of nature in literature or the history of environmental protection. Importantly make sure you highlight how interconnected human and social systems are with the natural ones around us. It is often wrongly thought that ‘nature’ is far away from us; show students they interact with natural systems everyday, everywhere.
Secondly, encourage thinking about how the planet needs to be protected and how we can go about ensuring this. You could explore past environmental movements such as the origin of Earth Day, GreenPeace or the history of the COP environmental conferences. Look into the proposed solutions for the climate and ecological crisis with your class. For example, more public transport, renewable energy technologies, permaculture farming or rewilding. Show students that the solutions are out there, and that continued collective action can help us implement them.
Did you know that practically everything you touch, everything you eat and everything you use is made up of things that came from the Earth? From the metals in your phone to the wool in your blankets. Everything we have, everything that we are, we owe to the natural world around us. That's why its so important to protect it. Which of Earth's gifts are you thankful for?