Quick Earth Day Ideas for Middle Schoolers
Shoe drives, homemade paper, can collections, and other ideas to create a more sustainable environment
- Grades: 6–8
Celebrate Earth Day by helping clean up our environment. Use these ideas and activities to encourage your students to keep Earth healthy.
Save Your Sneakers
Challenge students to organize a shoe drive. Rubber soles can be turned into a playground surface, or give old shoes new life on another pair of feet in Africa.
Eat an Earth-Friendly Lunch
Invite students to join you for lunch. When they’ve finished eating, have them divide the leftover packaging into four groups:
- recyclables (glass, plastic, paper, and aluminum)
- decomposables (such as banana and orange peels)
- reusables (plastic containers, thermoses, etc.)
- “throw-away” items that cannot be recycled (styrofoam, plastic wrap, etc.)
Keep track of the items on a chart. Set another lunch date and challenge the class to bring a more Earth-friendly lunch. Graph the results and compare.
By recycling one aluminum can, you’re saving the same amount of energy it takes to light a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for three hours or a television for two hours. How would this translate if everyone in your school — students, teachers, administrators and custodians — recycled one can per day for a week? A month? A year?
Cut Down on Junk Mail
Ask students for their families’ permission to collect a week’s worth of junk mail and bring it to school. Keep a class chart of the quantity and weight of the junk mail each child brings in. Estimate the number of families in your school and how much junk mail your community contributes to a landfill per week, month, and year. Share some ways to reduce junk mail. Students can create brochures to take home or share in the community that tell about the data they collected and how to cancel junk mail.
Making your own paper isn't as difficult as you may think. Follow these easy directions with your class!
- Piece of metal screen
- Wooden frame
- Thumbtacks, at least four
- Torn paper (pick up paper that has already been recycled or save your classroom's recycled paper from a week or so)
- Warm water
- White glue, several tablespoons
- Basin for water
- Piece of felt or flannel, same size as wooden frame
- Drying rack
- Optional: Liquid starch, two teaspoons
- Attach a piece of metal screen to a wooden frame.
- Pull the screen tight and secure with thumbtacks.
- Fill a blender half-way with the small bits of torn paper.
- Fill the blender the rest of the way with warm water.
- Mix on low speed, then slowly raise the speed until there are no bits of paper left in the mixture.
- Add a few tablespoons of white glue to a basin of water, then add the pulp mixture. Mix well.
- Optional: To use the paper for writing, add two teaspoons of liquid starch (this prevents the ink from being absorbed into the paper).
- Scoop the frame into the water screen-side down, sliding it to the bottom and allowing the pulp to settle on top.
- Slowly lift the frame from the water. Wait until the dripping has almost stopped.
- Place a piece of felt or flannel on top. Press to squeeze out excess water.
- Use a sponge to absorb the water on the other side of the screen.
- Slowly lift the fabric from the frame, and the paper should come with it.
- Let the paper dry, then use it for note cards or bookmarks.