Happy Earth Day: Today and Every Day

Programs for this blog post

Sustainability + the Environment

Authored By:

College Study Abroad

Happy Earth Day! Every April 22, this global event comes around to remind us how precious our planet is, what sustainable efforts we can make to protect Earth, and that we’re all in the fight to preserve the planet together. 

Let’s discuss where Earth Day originated, why it’s important, how we can be eco-conscious in the study abroad community, and some of our top study abroad programs committed to educating students about sustainability. 

What is Earth Day? 

Earth Day has been celebrated annually on April 22 since 1970, when it was first established by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator, governor, and environmental activist. At the time, the creation of Earth Day was meant to force environmental issues onto the national agenda. And it worked! Ever since, this annual event has been used to raise awareness about the environment, promote sustainability, and advocate for the protection of the planet. 

Today, more than one billion people celebrate Earth Day by taking actions like: 

  • Participating in clean-up events in parks, on beaches, in woodlands, etc. 
  • Planting trees 
  • Creating community gardens 
  • Volunteering for environmental organizations 
  • Attending workshops focused on environmental issues, sustainability, and conservation 
  • Joining marches, rallies, and petitions to call for policy changes 

To celebrate Earth Day in your local community, see what kinds of efforts are being made that you can join. Or consider creating a new initiative to help promote sustainability on a local scale for global impact! 

cacao fruit abroad

Why is Earth Day Important? 

Earth Day is important for many reasons, one of the most notable being that every individual eco-conscious action taken, no matter how small, can contribute to positive change and a healthier planet. 

Consider these other top reasons why Earth Day is so critical: 

  • It is a global call to action to address environmental issues like climate change, deforestation, pollution, habitat destruction, and species extinction 
  • It is a vital reminder of the fragility and interconnectedness of our planet’s ecosystems 
  • It offers time for reflection on the impacts of human activities on the environment  
  • It inspires events, initiatives, and educational programs aimed at fostering a deeper appreciation for nature and promoting responsible stewardship of Earth's resources 

Ultimately, Earth Day reminds us that preserving Earth’s natural resources, beauty, and health is not just an option but imperative for the well-being of our planet for generations to come. 

10 Ways to Be Eco-Conscious While Studying Abroad 

At first thought, studying abroad may seem to work against environmental sustainability, but in actuality there are many ways you can offset your carbon footprint while abroad.  

Here are a few ways you can practice sustainability and be eco-conscious in your host country: 

  1. Use Public Transportation: Opt for biking, walking, or utilizing buses or trains instead of relying on rideshare cars or taxis. This not only reduces carbon emissions but also promotes a healthier lifestyle! 
  2. Reduce Energy Consumption: Be mindful of energy usage in your housing accommodation by turning off lights, unplugging electronics when not in use, and adjusting heating and cooling settings to conserve energy. 
  3. Conserve Water: Practice water-saving habits such as taking shorter showers, turning off taps when not in use, and reusing towels to minimize water waste. 
  4. Reduce Waste: Choose reusable water bottles, coffee cups, utensils, and shopping bags instead of disposable ones. Opt for products with minimal packaging and recycle whenever possible. 
  5. Support Local Businesses: Explore local markets, eateries, and shops that prioritize sustainability, fair trade, and environmental responsibility. Purchase locally sourced products and souvenirs to reduce your carbon footprint. 
  6. Embrace Sustainable Eating Habits: Support restaurants and cafés that offer organic, locally sourced, and plant-based food options. Minimize food waste by ordering only what you can consume and bringing reusable containers for leftovers. 
  7. Engage in Community Initiatives: Depending on where you’re studying abroad, participate in environmental volunteering opportunities, beach clean-ups, tree planting events, or community garden projects to contribute positively to your host community and environment. 
  8. Practice Responsible Tourism: Respect local wildlife and ecosystems by following designated pedestrian and hiking trails, avoiding single-use plastics, and refraining from purchasing products made from endangered species or contributing to unethical wildlife tourism. 
  9. Educate Yourself (And Others): Learn about the environmental challenges facing your host country and share your knowledge and experiences with others to adopt eco-conscious behaviors. 
  10. Bring Your Sustainability Practices Home: Take the sustainability efforts your practice abroad back home with you after your program and live a more eco-conscious lifestyle in your local community.   

Adopting an eco-conscious mindset and incorporating some (or all) of these sustainability practices will help make a positive impact on the environment. And remember, every individual local action scales up for global impact! 

Best 4 Sustainability Study Abroad Programs 

CIEE offers many study abroad programs with a sustainability and conservation focus. Consider these top four programs that our students rave about year after year! 

Program #1: Sustainability + The Environment (Monteverde) 

This program is designed for students from all academic backgrounds who are interested in digging into today’s most pressing environmental issues.  

  • Length: 16 weeks 
  • Credit: 16-17 credit hours/24-25.5 quarter hours 
  • Cost: $19,950 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: Tropical Conservation Biology and Policy 
  • Excursion Highlight: Immerse yourself in the steamy jungle of the Lowland Rainforest 

Program #2: Summer Wildlife Ecology + Conservation (Gaborone) 

One of Africa’s top-ranked destinations for wildlife, this Botswana study abroad program educates you on animal behavior, ecology, and conservation to preserve African ecosystems and protected areas. 

  • Length: 8 weeks 
  • Credit: 10 credit hours/15 quarter hours 
  • Cost: $8,250 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: Introduction to Wildlife Resources, Ecology, and Conservation 
  • Excursion Highlight: Travel to Okavango Delta and engage in face-to-face discussions with villagers on issues of human-wildlife conflict and conservation 
river students abroad

Program #3: Summer STEM + Society (Yucatán) 

This program takes place in Mérida, less than a two-hour drive from biodiverse nature reserves, UNESCO archaeological sites, and historic towns where you’ll study the environment, Mayan culture, history, business, communication, and more. 

  • Length: 6 weeks 
  • Credit: 6-7 credit hours/9-10.5 quarter hours 
  • Cost: $5,450 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: Mayan History, Culture, and the Environment 
  • Excursion Highlight: Take a boat ride over pink waters at Ría Celestún, a biosphere reserve where you can explore mangroves, look for crocodiles, and visit enormous concentrations of flamingos 

Program #4: Summer Sustainability + The Environment (Monteverde) 

During this program, you’ll live on the edge of the world-famous Costa Rican cloud forest where you’ll study sustainable economic development and environmental engineering while marveling at the region’s incredible biodiversity. 

  • Length: 6 weeks 
  • Credit: 6-7 credit hours/9-10.5 quarter hours 
  • Cost: $5,450 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: Sustainable Tourism 
  • Excursion Highlight: Visit natural destinations, such as national parks or reserves, to experience Costa Rica’s biodiversity and natural beauty 

Every Day is Earth Day 

Now that you’re armed with knowledge about Earth Day and all the ways you can practice sustainability abroad, you’re ready to get on your way! Treat every day like Earth Day and take your eco-conscious mind global to appreciate Earth’s natural beauty, help preserve and protect our planet, and embrace a new culture.  

Ready to take the next step?