New Morning School’s first-ever Zero Impact Day takes place Monday, April 22 — Earth Day — here at New Morning School in Plymouth, MI.

How did this come to be?

In the middle school science classes, the children researched and discussed environmental issues around the world, ranging from plastic pollution to deforestation, fracking, coral bleaching and beyond. They also began to draw relationships to how human activity often directly causes these crises.

But what can one child do about it?

They loved imagining and discussing what middle school-age life might have been like ten thousand years ago. Would it be better, or worse? They agreed it was certainly better for the planet, and it made for an interesting discussion.

With Earth Day coming soon, we decided, why not just try it? Let’s try and have the lowest possible impact for one day.

Zero Impact Day is a one-day, school-wide immersive simulation experiment to explore what it’s like to “live small” while minimizing our school’s environmental footprint.

How does Zero Impact Day work?

We’ll use no external energy sources, but the power will remain on in case of emergency. That means we won’t use anything powered by gas, electricity or batteries. For example, lights, microwaves, computers, tablets, etc. will all be unplugged/put away for the day.

We’ll attempt to achieve zero-waste lunch, snacks and projects for the day. We encourage families to package all lunch food in reusable containers and to abstain from using any single-use packages, straws, paper napkins or cutlery if possible.

Our school will use the outdoors and natural light as much as possible, and we will be experimenting this week with options for lighting the bathrooms.

(The front desk and all landline phones in the building will remain live at all times for safety. This includes all safety equipment, such as smoke detectors, alarms, and lighted exit signs. Aides will take personal cell phones outside for student recess. Refrigerators and freezers will remain on).

How parents may help prepare for this day

  • Sit down with your kids and click here to access this five-minute impact calculator.
  • Plan lunch together and anticipate the strange day coming up at school. Ask them questions like: What will it be like? What will be easy and what will be hard? The deeper the participation, the more fun we’re all going to have together and the more we’ll learn together.
  • Help your kids to dress for the weather. We’re still a week away, but it’s calling for a high of 70F and sunny that day.
  • Remember to relax and enjoy. This is an experiment in learning and it’s intended to be fun for everyone. If you forget, and your kid brings a lunch that has to be microwaved, or if you accidentally send plastic cutlery, it’s no big deal. This is simply a fun simulation, and it’s OK if we need to break protocol for a child.
  • If you have any questions about Zero Impact Day, please don’t hesitate to contact science teacher Paul Hanna or your child’s classroom teacher.
  • Click here for Other Earth Day ideas.