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By Melanie Viso | April 20, 2021

Earth Day–celebrated on April 22nd of each year–has come a long way since its beginning in 1970. It has grown to become an international day of action supporting environmental protection. Over 20 million Americans mobilized for a better environmental future on the first Earth Day in 1970, but now the environmental movement has mobilized over 1 billion people worldwide. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Restore Our Earth.”

As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Earth Day is a reminder that everything cannot just go back to normal. The ongoing battle against climate change is still very important, especially after seeing the Earth taking a small break to recover from human activity as a result of coronavirus lockdowns across the world.

The plan for Earth Day 2021 will actually consist of three days of climate action. Starting on April 20th, there will be a global youth climate summit, consisting of panels where key youth climate activists such as Greta Thunberg will participate. The “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit will also take place on the same day. The event will focus on addressing environmental justice and connecting the climate crisis to not only pollution issues and the current pandemic but also different social problems such as poverty and police brutality, all of which will be discussed under a racial justice framework. On April 21st, a climate action summit on climate literacy, “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit,” will highlight the vital role of educators in the fight against climate change. Finally, on April 22nd, EARTHDAY.ORG will present its second Earth Day Live digital event, where activities will focus on this year’s “Restore Our Earth” theme.

This year, the Restore Our Earth campaigns feature five primary programs: The Canopy Project, Food and Environment, The Great Global Cleanup, Climate Literacy, and the Global Earth Challenge. Learn more about Earth Day, these programs, and ways to get involved by visiting the official Earth Day website. Many resources for your classroom such as the new “Restore Our Earth” Toolkit and advocacy packets are now available as well.

Even with challenges brought by the current pandemic, Earth Day’s collective power and significance are stronger than ever, showing that while it may be an annual day of celebration, its main goals should be pursued every day. In addition, Earth Day is a great opportunity for educators to introduce and develop concepts of sustainability, preservation, and conservation into their classrooms throughout the school year. Journeys in Film has shared free multiple discussion and curriculum guides of films such as Jane, Landfill Harmonic, One Strange Rock, and River of Gold, to bring inspiration on Earth Day. Edutopia and the Project Learning Tree have also compiled an extensive list of resources and activities, respectively, that educators can use to incorporate Earth Day into their classrooms.