WITS Celebrates Earth Day and the Environment

Jesse AltmanBooks, Diversity Initiatives, Inside WITS

text in front of a bright blue background with an illustration of Earth, smiling, with green plants and pink flowers

Every year, people come together across the world to celebrate our beautiful planet. We celebrate Earth Day annually on April 22nd to show our appreciation for the world we live in and do what we can to protect the environment. Earth Day is a chance to reflect on how we interact with the world, learn about the environment and how we can better protect it, and to take concrete actions to make a positive impact on the environment. At WITS, we strive to celebrate Earth and nature through our actions in our everyday lives as well as in the books we read. Below are some of WITS staff’s favorite children’s books celebrating Earth, the environment, and conservation. We also included a list of ways WITS staff strives toward environmental friendliness in their daily lives.

WITS Book Recommendations
  1. The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk highlights the important role the sun plays in our lives on Earth. From the way we tell time to the heat that keeps the planet warm, the sun is a HUGE deal and helps keep our environment stable.
  2. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers explores all the different parts of life on Earth and what it means to be a human living here.
  3. Luz Sees the Light is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Claudia Dávila that is great for middle school students. A blackout in Luz’s neighborhood combined with her mom’s concerns about the rising costs of fuel and groceries inspires Luz to make big changes!
  4. Rosario’s Fig Tree by Charis Wahlis a great picture book about the magic of gardening. Rosario has a garden full of vegetables, and everything he grows entrances the little girl who lives next door to him. When his new fig tree stops bearing fruit and receives a “burial” before winter begins, the little girl must wait patiently until spring to see if the fig tree will come to life again.
  5. Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner engages students in learning about what’s happening beneath the surface of the garden – like all the helper bugs.
  6. The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry makes readers aware of what happens when we destroy rain forests. The impact on the creatures that live in those rain forests and on the whole planet is devastating. Rain forest conservation is vital to the Earth’s health.
  7. The Lonely Polar Bear by Khoa Le is another beautifully illustrated book that shows the journey of a polar bear as he looks for his family and highlight’s the polar bear’s struggle as global warming melts his home and makes it harder for him to survive.
  8. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a staple of environmental conservation and as relevant now as it was when first published. The importance of being an activist, fighting to protect trees from being cut down and the environment from being harmed, is even greater today as the world faces climate change. Enjoy this ASL read aloud of the Lorax!
  9. Jayden’s Impossible Garden by Mélina Mangal highlights nature’s presence in our cities and the power of community gardens to bring together communities and grow an appreciation of the environment.
  10. Natsumi’s Song of Summer by Robert Paul Weston focuses on an appreciation of something in nature that people often tend to dislike and find gross, cicadas. The sound of cicadas ushering in the summer is a beautiful way of looking at their role in the cycle of seasons.
  11. Fish by Brendan Kearney is a great and accessible book about ocean pollution and how it’s affecting fish and underwater wildlife.
  12. The Earth Book by Todd Parr talks about the planet and all we can do to protect it. It is simple and easy to grasp and a wonderful introduction to protecting Earth for younger readers. Enjoy this ASL read aloud of The Earth Book!
WITS Staff Strives to Do Our Part to Help the Planet

As a family we do a lot of little things daily to help the planet. We recycle, use LED bulbs for our lights, use safe cleaning and beauty products, and have incorporated more plant-based foods to our diets.
Ashley Bloom, Chief Development Officer

I became more eco-conscious the last few years and try to buy compostable versions of everyday products whenever I can. I highly recommend switching to a pela case for your phone case—it’s made from plants and compostable. I’ve had one for three years now and it has held to everyday life of running around and occasionally dropping it…it’s really soft too!
Sara Martinez, Program Coordinator

To do my part to reduce textile waste, I try to buy clothes second-hand when I can.
Ellen Werner, Program Director

While I don’t grow any vegetables at home, I get a lot of fruits and vegetables through a Community Supported Agriculture share. Every week from April to October, my mom and I get a box filled with seasonal produce from a farm in southwestern Michigan. It’s a great way to directly support farmers, and we get to try some foods that aren’t always easy to find at the grocery store, like ramps.
Annie Kennedy, Community Manager

Something that I do to be more environmentally friendly is cut down on waste – particularly food waste, and continuing to stay committed to recycling.
Kristen Strobbe, Chief Program Officer

One thing I just started doing for the environment (and my bearded dragon, Spike) over COVID was create a worm compost bin for my house. I always had one in my classroom because I taught a worm unit, but this is the first time I’ve made one for my home. I love it. Not only does Spike have a steady source of delicious worms, but I’ve used the soil deposits as fertilizer in a number of my plants and they’re all thriving. It’s a no-brainer.
Laurie Brooks, Curriculum Manager

As far as my environmental stewardship, I have tried to get as close to possible in eliminating single use plastic in my life, actively compost, bike or take public transit, spend a ridiculous amount of time researching companies with sustainable supply chains and traceable sourcing. Really, Seaspiracy has me very annoyed at myself that I’m not a vegetarian yet.
Tena Latona, Chief Executive Officer

Gardening has become a favorite pandemic activity for myself, my neighbors, and their families. We have learned so much about what is possible to grow in small urban spaces!
Erin Toale, Marketing Coordinator

I have tried to eliminate as much single-use waste as I can in my life, buying reusable, environmentally sustainable alternatives to everyday products like unpaper towels and beeswax wraps in the kitchen, wool dryer balls for laundry, and compostable floss and toothpaste tablets in the bathroom. I also actively compost all food waste, eat a primarily vegetarian diet, and reuse products as much as possible that would otherwise be thrown away.
Jesse Altman, Program Coordinator

There are many ways we can protect the environment, such as: reducing the waste that we create, supporting local and sustainable businesses, or finding eco-friendly means of transportation. This Earth Day, WITS encourages you to read and learn about the planet and find one or two new ways you can start actively protecting the planet. In conjunction with the end of Deaf History Month, please take advantage of these ASL resources for Earth Day as well!

Happy Earth Day from WITS!