Earth Day is right around the corner, and if you’re like most people, you’ll rally your girls, break out the garbage bags and litter sticks, and leave a place better than you found it. Kudos to every troop that’s taking the initiative to make the world a little greener!
Many credit conservationist Rachel Carson for launching a new era of scientifically driven public activism that eventually led to the creation of Earth Day in 1970. Carson’s groundbreaking work, Silent Spring, called people to take action and demand change; just a few years after its publication, Congress passed a number of laws like the Clean Air Act and the Wilderness Act that worked to protect and preserve the natural world.
In Carson’s memory, and in recognition of the many activists who came before her, encourage your troops to dig a little deeper and explore the far reaches of current environmental issues. Read on for a few ideas of what to do with your girls this Earth Day to ensure that the planet is a safe and habitable place for everyone.
Delve Into Environmental Justice
Ambassadors who have worked on their Justice Journey should be familiar with the phrase “environmental justice,” but troops of any age can grasp the idea as well.
If you haven’t heard of it, environmental justice, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulation, and policies.”
Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but thankfully, you don’t have to use this definition verbatim to get your point across. Instead, you can use the concept of fairness to break down this term for younger girls—explain that environmental justice ensures that everyone has a fair chance of living the healthiest life possible. This video is also helpful in explaining the idea.
Map Out Your Community
What types of environmental issues are impacting your community? Head over to EJSCREEN, a mapping tool created by the EPA that allows you to see the demographic and environmental information about a specific geographic area. You can play around with the different categories to discover the levels of pollution, proximity to contaminated waste sites, and more. What conclusions can girls draw from the data? What neighborhoods are most affected by environmental hazards? Who lives in those neighborhoods?
Look to Other Leaders
Learn about other young people, like sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who gave a speech at the World Economic Forum, demanding that world leaders “put their economic goals aside to safeguard the living conditions of humankind on the future.” Pretty amazing, isn’t she? Last month, more than a million students across the globe, inspired by Thunberg’s words, staged a strike to protest the government’s failure to act against climate change.
After working through these different activities, your girls may be fired up to take action themselves. How will they do so—educating others about climate change, writing to government officials, raising their voice at town meetings? Let your girls take the lead! If they’re not sure where to start, link up with one of the many youth-led organizations like Minnesota Can’t Wait and iMatter, to find ways to get involved and make a difference.
Lily Yu –Lily is a Program Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time as a volunteer and troop cookie manager for her daughter’s Daisy troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (and rescue dog, Neil!).