Did you know that April 22nd was Earth Day? Earth Day began back in 1970 as a response to a devastating oil spill. Now, Earth Day continues to remind people to take care of and celebrate our Earth! People often memorialize earth day by volunteering, planting a garden, cleaning up highways, among many more ways to leave our earth better than we found it. What can you do to help your world?
The important thing to remember is to take care of our world not just on Earth Day, but every day! What are some ways that you can take care of the earth in your community?
Here’s some more information about Earth Day and the different ways you can celebrate it!
In relation to Earth Day, we are going to learn what the word biodegradable means.
Have you ever seen this symbol? If you do, that means the item is biodegradable! But what exactly does that mean?
Biodegradable material is usually organic material that was originally from other living organisms. The word organic can have a few different meanings, but in this case, it means plant or animal matter. This not only includes plants and animals, but plant and animal waste material, as well.
While much of the world around us is biodegradable, some materials are not. When non-biodegradable items are littered around, they don’t break down like biodegradable material. For example, a plastic bag can take up to 20 years to break down! These items then end up in landfills, cluttering our earth and potentially causing harm to animals and their habitats.
Just imagine how long the plastic in this landfill would take to decompose!
This is just one example of an animal affected by littered plastic.
How DOES plastic decompose, anyway? Find out HERE.
YOU WILL NEED:
Deep pan or garden box
Various items to plant. May include:
- Dirty sock
- Apple core
- Banana peel
- A kleenex
- Milk carton
- Plastic wrapper
- Piece of bread
- Toilet paper
Here’s what to do!
You are going to plant your various items in your garden. Instead of planting seeds and watching things grow, you are going to observe how the items decompose. Essentially, you are creating a reverse garden! Through this experiment, you are going to find out which items are biodegradable and which are not.
1. Make predictions! Write down which items you think will decompose the fastest, slowest, or not at all. Make guesses on how long you think each will take to decompose.
2. Fill the deep pan with dirt.
3. Use a pen or marker to label popsicle sticks with each item you are going to plant.
4. Plant each item in the pan. Make sure the items are completely covered in dirt and are planted at the same depth. You could use a ruler to measure from the item to the surface of the dirt to make sure the items are all covered by the same amount of dirt.
5. As you plant each item, stick the labeled popsicle stick into the dirt behind the item so you can identify the items later on.
6. Water your garden!
7. Now, the waiting game has started. Make sure you water your garden once a day. After one week, dig up your garden and make observations. What do your items look like now? Take pictures or make sketches in your observation journal. Which items seem to be decomposing the fastest? Are there any items that look the same?
8. Rebury your items as you did in step 4 and continue with daily watering.
9. Check back at week 2 and take pictures, make sketches, and record observations in your journal. Rebury and continue watering.
10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for two more weeks.
11. At week 4, dig up your items and record your final observations.
Remember, those items that didn’t decompose wouldn’t break down for many years to come! Use this activity as a great reminder to take care of our beautiful earth!