07 apr 2023

Eco-friendly Activities for High School Students on Earth Day

As a teacher, you have the power to inspire your students to make a positive impact on the world around them. With Earth Day approaching, it’s the perfect time to look into some eco-friendly activities for high-school students that can instill a sense of environmental responsibility in them and help create a brighter future for our planet. Here are some ideas to get your students involved! 

Clean-up Challenge 

If you live in a town or city with multiple high schools (or at least more than one), why not engage a neighboring school in a clean-up challenge to celebrate Earth Day? 

Not only is it great for the environment, but it’s also an opportunity for students to meet and spend time outside for a change. Additionally, educators can network and exchange ideas and experiences. 

The more schools you can engage, the better! Reach out to colleagues from other schools, determine the rules of the competition, and set a date and location for your clean-ups. Spread the word and promote the challenge as widely as possible on social media.

Plogging: Good for Health, Great for the Planet!

If no school was brave enough to take up the above challenge, there’s an even better alternative—plogging! Besides, it’s super easy to organize. 

Plogging is a relatively new fitness trend that started in Sweden in 2016. As you probably guessed, it combines jogging with picking up trash. The name originated from the Swedish verb “plocka upp” which means “to pick up.” 

Eco-friendly Activities for High School Students: Plogging

In terms of the benefits it offers for both health and the environment, this one is very hard to beat. Additionally, apart from fighting pollution and saving some money on the local budget, a nice big plogging party attracts a lot of attention, which makes an ultimate triple Earth-Day combo!

So, pick a nice route around your neighborhood, and grab some gloves and trash bags. Asking your students to post about it on social media wouldn’t go amiss either.

Volunteer at a Local Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

If you are lucky enough to have a wildlife center nearby, organizing volunteer work for your students there can be an amazing way to celebrate Earth Day. Working with animals can provide a firsthand look at the impact of human activities on the natural world better than anything else. 

Eco-friendly Activities for High School Students: volunteer at a local wildlife center

It’s one thing to talk about it, but seeing animals that have been injured or orphaned due to habitat destruction and climate change can be eye-opening and help your students truly understand the importance of environmental conservation. And, as always, spread the word by sharing photos on social media to help raise awareness. 

Play EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) distributes funding for a range of environmental programs and initiatives. Looking into what the agency does, how it works, and how to get involved might be a terrific Earth Day activity. All the more fitting because the first Earth Day ever in the US led to the creation of the EPA. 

Learning about how things work at a high level and how federal funding is distributed can showcase that it is indeed possible to make a difference. So this Earth Day, why not play EPA with your students? For example, divide the class into committees: 

  • Pollution prevention and reduction
  • Environmental education and outreach
  • Clean-up and restoration 
  • Research and development 
  • Enforcement and compliance

The idea is that each committee should present a project in its respective category, with the best being chosen by voting. The authors of the best project can be rewarded with a trophy or get a chance to present it in front of the mayor. 

Upcycling Contest 

According to the UN, in about 30 years, the human population will hit 10 billion, a number that many scientists consider to be Earth’s maximum capacity. This means that we have very little time to radically rethink how we use materials and deal with waste. 

With this in mind, Earth Day is an excellent occasion to bring up the subject of upcycling in class and plant the idea that it’s everyone’s responsibility to develop and sharpen our upcycling thinking. Arranging a contest for the best upcycling project can be a great way to celebrate Earth Day. 

Eco-friendly Activities for High School Students: upcycling contest & upcycling workshop

Alternatively, you could organize an upcycling workshop. There are plenty of everyday things you can upcycle together in class:

  • Old clothing and textiles could be used for reusable market bags, napkins, pillowcases, or rugs.
  • Glass jars can become storage containers or vases for flowers.
  • Old vinyl records and CDs can become clocks, shelves, coasters, or wall art.

Have your students share their work on social media to generate interest. 

What Goes Around Comes Around

It might be a great idea to dedicate a lesson to some of the amazing achievements of environmental activists and wildlife conservationists. It’s uplifting and might help boost student motivation to do something for the environment. 

There are plenty of examples of what eco-activists have managed to achieve throughout the years. Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, for example, the ozone hole is expected to fully recover within 20 to 30 years. Species like the giant panda, black rhino, snow leopard, humpback whale, and many others are in a much better situation now thanks to conservation efforts. 

You could give students an assignment to look up examples such as these to present in class on Earth Day. After all, it’s a great way to showcase that every effort counts!

Tech-Forward for a Greener Earth

Nowadays, we have some amazingly simple solutions that can help us contribute to a more sustainable future with little to no effort on our part—mobile apps! You could make an assignment out of this—like making a list of the best eco-friendly mobile apps—that your students will definitely like. 

There are plenty of examples in multiple categories.

Moreover, you could make a contest out of this where the author of the optimal list gets a premium subscription to the app of their choice. 

You CAN Move Mountains with a Feather

Sadly, a lot of people still abstain from taking action because they believe that their efforts are futile in the grand scheme of things. Climate change might seem too big of a problem for an individual contribution to make a difference. 

Luckily for all of us, it’s very far from the truth. There’s plenty of evidence that small, consistent efforts can bring tremendous results in the long run. For example, if every student in the US abstains from printing one assignment, it will save 50 million sheets of paper. That’s roughly 40 football fields of forest land.

There are also quite a few inspiring books that convey this idea:

  1. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  2. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  3. Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
  4. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
  5. One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

You could use several chapters as a reading assignment for Earth Day. Ask students to write an essay with some ideas of small changes in our everyday lives that could make a huge difference. Have them speculate about how different the world would be if, for example, everyone went paperless or if plastic bags were banned. An exercise like that can be very useful for developing an eco-friendly mindset. 

All in all, there are plenty of eco-friendly activities for high-school students. We hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing!