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Celebrate the Earth—One Day at a Time!

Happy Earth Day everyone!  I hope that you are finding ways to enjoy your environment today and everyday hereafter.  Earth Day always reminds me of how fortunate we are to have the green spaces, home communities and people in our lives that make this world an easy place to love.  So in celebration of the Earth, here are a few things we do at NatureBridge that you may be able to try at home and in the classroom. 
MOOP… There It Is!
  Here at the Southern California campus, we promote environmental stewardship every day on trail by designating a MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) master. This person’s job throughout the day is to scan their surroundings and find anything on the ground that doesn’t belong there, i.e. trash.  Then, they will point to it saying “MOOP, there it is!” and someone in the group will pick it up and place it in our MOOP bag.  This may sound like a silly way to go about it, but picking up trash that we see on the ground is the first step in a new direction, a green one.  
How Long ‘Till It’s Gone?
  After collecting our MOOP, the students put on gloves and begin sorting what we collected into the following categories:  plastics (#1&2, #3 & Up), metals (Aluminum, Tin, Other) and miscellaneous.  Then, we lay out a rope and various amounts of months and years that each of these items take to break down (a process known as biodegradation).  Students then place a type of trash from each category on the timeline with the amount of time they believe it takes for these items to break down, having them support their opinions with evidence, and discuss why they think that with fellow students.  Then you can make a “trash timeline” with your group, listing the items found and the time required for each item to biodegrade.
Environmental Action Plan
Now that we’ve taken action physically picking up the trash, discussed how long until it’s “gone”, it’s time to talk mitigation.  The solution to pollution is….  Even though I wish this was a one track issue, there are many facets to the pollution problem.  Nearly everything we use today is made up of or is covered in plastic, so the question is, what can we do it about it on a daily basis and how can we empower our communities to reduce waste?
Individual Responsibility, Collective Impact
Finally, it’s time to decide what actions you and your students will take to help minimize the trash we produce!
I promise to use reusable shopping bags every time I go to the grocery store.  I am going to refuse to use plastic produce bags when buying fruits and veggies.  I will spread my knowledge about reducing waste to my family members and friends.  I will work research opportunities to participate in community clean ups.  I will reduce my pollution footprint!

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