A Brief History of Earth Day and Earth Day in Waldorf Schools April 22 2015

Earth Day is Every Day in a Waldorf School!

Everyday is an "earth day" within a Waldorf school but since 1970,  April 22 has been formally observed as "Earth Day" across the nation. With every day that passes, the ill effects of modern civilization on the environment has become more and more evident. Climate change, air/water/ocean pollution, shrinking wetlands, deforestation, habitat destruction, ozone depletion, and water shortages are just a few of the issues facing the planet today.

Back in the early 1960’s, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin began noticing that the condition of the environment was not being recognized on any political agenda despite evidence of degradation. In 1969 he witnessed the devastating effects of the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California – and an idea was born. He announced the idea of a “national teach-in on the environment” to the media. He then built a staff to promote events across the country that would educate and build awareness around environmental issues. On April 22, 1970 the first Earth Day was observed and an estimated 20 million people demonstrated across the nation. It was a grassroots explosion that sent a message to public officials that would eventually lead to legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

At Home
Earth Day is an opportunity to teach our kids the message of conservation and to help them understand it is not just one day, but a reminder of what we should be doing all year long. Children learn by our example and there are many ways to instill reverence towards the environment and our planet. Below are some easy ways to begin:

  • Carpool or walk whenever possible to reduce fuel emissions
  • Turn off lights when you’re not in a room
  • Properly inflate your automobile tires
  • Don’t litter and pick up rubbish whenever you come across it
  • Raise the temperature a degree or two in the summer, reduce it a degree or two in the winter
  • Create idle free zones at school
  • Use reusable bags when shopping
  • Learn how to drive for fuel economy
  • Start an indoor worm bin or compost
  • Shine furniture with natural polish that you can make yourself
  • Make your own green pesticides & repellents
  • Paint your roof white
  • Learn how to use a rain barrel
  • Dry laundry outside on an old fashioned clothes line
  • Take your own cup to your favorite coffee house
  • Make sure your shower head is water saving model
  • Ride your bike to work/school at least once a week
  • Take public transportation at least once a month
  • Use energy efficient window treatments
  • Avoid dry clean only clothing and explore wet cleaning for those pieces you do have
  • Clean your windows with a green window wash that you make yourself!

Remember to talk about why earth–saving practices are important while doing these things. It is our responsibility to guide our children and to make them aware of the fragility and magnificence of our great planet.

In Waldorf Schools
Waldorf Schools strive to build inner habits in children that will connect them to the earth on a deep instinctual level. These habits and practices are embedded in all aspects of the Waldorf curriculum from daily nature walks to farming and gardening blocks. Because of Waldorf's strong environmental connection, most students graduate with an ingrained understanding of their individual role in the environment and it's perfect design of natural systems.  Many, if not most, Waldorf schools take part in community clean ups, ecology fundraisers, community tree planting, composting, and recycling to name a few.