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10 Ways Chemistry Students Can Celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

How can you help ignite change? We've got ideas on how to remind peers and the public that chemistry has solutions for a greener and more sustainable future.

On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million individuals came together in the streets, on college campuses, and in city squares to celebrate the first Earth Day. Organized by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin) and Harvard University Kennedy School of Government graduate student Denis Hayes, Earth Day helped ignite an environmental movement that led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Hayes took the event global in 1990, with more than 200 million people in 140 countries spreading the word about environmental awareness.

With climate change, fossil fuels, and poor air and water quality having great impacts on our daily lives, Earth Day is more relevant than ever. April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of the world's largest environmental movement. ACS is proudly partnering with the Earth Day Network (founded by Hayes) to create resources and programs supporting Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW). Held annually during the same week as Earth Day, CCEW brings ACS members and chemistry enthusiasts together to celebrate and communicate the positive role that chemistry plays in the world. CCEW 2020 will take place April 19-25, with the theme “Protecting the Planet through Chemistry.”

So how can you help ignite change on your campus? First things first: Sign up to pledge support for Earth Day at your school. Then check out our picks for the 10 best ways to remind individuals on your campus, and the public at large, that chemistry can provide solutions to a greener and more sustainable future.

1. Host a community service event

Get students involved in making their community a better place. Here are a couple community service options:

2. Host a hands-on science event

Show your campus and the public how chemists are “Protecting Our Planet through Chemistry.”  

3. Register with MobilizeU

MobilizeU is an Earth Day Network campaign that unites motivated students and administrators around the world in a shared demand for climate action and amplifies their collective action on Earth Day.

4. Organize a teach-in on April 22

Use the CCEW 2020 educational resources and Earth Day Network’s educational resources to host an “Environmental Education Day” teach-in to teach community members about their connection to the environment.

5. Encourage voting and civic engagement

At your Earth Day events, join forces with existing voter registration groups on your campus by  discussing why we should all #VoteEarth.

6. Fight climate change with diet change with Foodprints for the Future

Encourage your college or university to take the 20/20 Pledge with Foodprints for the Future, which plans to replace 20% of animal products with plant-based foods and reduce food waste by 20% in college and university dining systems.

7. Take part in the ACS Program-in-a-Box

The “Future of Food” is the theme for the ACS Program-in-a-Box on February 25. If your ACS Student Chapter missed the Feb 7 deadline to receive ACS Student Chapters can register to receive a box of raffle prizes and resources, you can still register to receive a digital box of goodies.

8. Partner with other clubs

Whether or not they are environmentally focused, working other student clubs, such as the Filmmakers Society chapter or Engineering Club, is a great way to engage new and larger audiences while also incorporating some unique ideas.

9. Plan an Illustrated Poem Contest

Enlist the help of your ACS local section to encourage younger students to participate in the Illustrated Poem Contest. It's a great way for youth to creatively share the importance of STEM.

10. Check out the original Earth Day celebrations

Your library or news archives could have a treasure of old photos, videos, or recordings that can be incredible additions to your existing events and promotional materials. Or better yet, plan an engaging exhibition of these archives, perhaps in connection with a student Artists for the Earth exhibition.

For 50 years, Earth Day has celebrated humans’ relationship with the planet and raised awareness of what we can do to protect our habitat. With a little creativity, you can join the celebration and spread awareness of how important it is to protect our irreplaceable planet.

About the Author
David Horwitz headshot

David Horwitz
David Horwitz is a program manager for science outreach at the American Chemical Society in Washington D.C.

Sam Hunt headshot

Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt is the MobilizeU campaign manager, spreading a passion for the environment to university students and campuses around the world. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and global sustainability from the University of Virginia.