Climate Action Days

Climate Action Days headline banner

In 2023–24, NYC Public Schools will launch Climate Action Days: four days to celebrate climate action in every school.

Climate Action Days are a fun, creative learning opportunity for entire school communities. They are also a way that any school can get started with climate action. Each day will be based on a theme, and will showcase the importance of climate education and sustainability practices. Every school will choose activities — or create their own — that best serve their students and interests.

With Climate Action Days, we are engaging the next generation of leaders, in classrooms and communities. When our teachers, building and school staff, and students come together to act, we can make a difference!

Dates and Themes

  • Wednesday, December 6: Energy
  • Wednesday, February 7: Waste
  • Wednesday, April 17: Health, Wellness, and Green Space
  • Wednesday, June 12: Water

Wednesday, June 12: Water

Access to clean water helps keep New Yorkers healthy and hydrated. In addition to drinking water, we’re also surrounded by it: our city has 520 miles of waterfront—longer than Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco combined!

That’s why on June 12th, the theme of Climate Action Day is “Water.” Schools will plan activities to show how we can conserve water, and how we can adapt to changes in our city, like more rainfall and intense storms.

Tips for Mindful Water Use in Your School

  • Bring a reusable water bottle every day.
  • Tell your Custodian Engineer if you see a water leak.
  • Don’t let the water run when washing your hands.
  • Learn more about where our drinking water comes from and how we can all protect it.

Tips for Caring for Our Waterways

  • Wait to use water during heavy rain.
  • Be mindful of what you put down the drain—don't use drains as wastebaskets.
  • Host or join a litter cleanup by your school—this helps keep litter off our streets and out of our waterways.
  • Care for a nearby street tree or rain garden which absorb stormwater during heavy rain.
  • Enjoy your local waterway! There are lots of opportunities for recreation and activities in our rivers, beaches, and parks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this important?

Acting on climate change is important to our students and families. Climate change affects all New Yorkers, and some communities are unjustly affected. We must address climate change in a fair way. When we choose to act, we can build a better future for our students and our planet.

What are the goals of Climate Action Days?

  • Teaching solutions: There are countless ways to take climate action. Every school can show students they can have a positive impact on the world around them.
  • Celebrating victories: Many school communities already take climate action. This is a chance to show what solutions already exist in our schools.
  • Centering justice: As part of every theme, students can learn about environmental justice.
  • Empowering students: Students are encouraged to advocate for activities that matter to them. They can help lead Climate Action Days!
  • Working together as a community: Schools can include families in Climate Action Day activities. Schools can also work with community-based organizations.

What is climate change?

Climate change is a significant change in the Earth's climate. The Earth is currently getting warmer because people are adding heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere. "Global warming" refers to warmer temperatures. "Climate change” is a change in the average conditions in a region over a long period of time such as temperature, rainfall, and weather patterns. (US Environmental Protection Agency).

What is climate action?

Any activity that responds to climate change can be climate action. Most climate actions fall into two groups (NASA):

  1. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is called “mitigation.”
  2. Adapting to climate hazards that we face, like very hot weather or storms. This is called “adaptation.”

We are already taking many climate actions in school! Here are some examples:

  • Working together as school communities to maintain school gardens and outdoor space, like street tree beds.
  • Composting our food scraps – every NYC Public School has composting service!
  • Showcasing student essays and art about their communities’ experiences with climate change.
  • Serving more plant-based meals with Plant-Powered Fridays, and reducing waste with Plastic-Free Lunch Days.
  • Leading schoolwide energy reduction days.
  • Preparing students for careers in clean energy through Career-Connected Learning.
  • Teaching school-based staff and students about climate change.

Learn more about climate action in our school facilities.

What is environmental justice?

Environmental justice means that everyone has the chance to live the healthiest life possible (National Institute of Health). Everyone deserves to live, work, learn, and play in a clean, healthy place. And everyone deserves to live on a clean, healthy planet.

There is a history of unequal burdens on low-income people and people of color. This has led to health disparities in some communities. Climate action can help address these burdens.

Resources for Families

What do YOU want your child’s school to do to take climate action?

Every school can customize Climate Action Days to suit their students. Themes are suggested, broad categories that your child’s school can adapt to the school mission and your interests. We encourage families to take part in Climate Action Days. Do you have ideas for climate action in your child’s school?

Connect with your child’s school

  • Ask your Parent or Parent-Teacher Association (PA/PTA) about Climate Action Days.
  • Talk to your Parent Coordinator and ask them how your child’s school is participating.
  • Every school has a “Sustainability Coordinator” - it can be a teacher, an Assistant Principal, or another staff member. Ask your Principal who is the Sustainability Coordinator for your child’s school.
  • Learn more about getting involved and the contacts at your child's school.

Resources for Students

What do YOU want your school to do to take climate action?

Climate Action Days are a chance to shape the future you want to see. Raise your voice and tell your teachers what matters to you!

Here’s how to get more involved in sustainability and climate action in your school:

  • Join your school’s Green Team
    • If your school doesn’t have one, ask a teacher if they will help you create a Green Team student club!
  • High School Students: there are opportunities to engage in climate action beyond Climate Action Days. Learn more about opportunities for high school students.

Book List

Early Readers (Pre-K–2)

  • Iceberg: A Life in Seasons, by Claire Saxby; illustrated by Jess Racklyeft
  • Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, by Claire A. Nivola
  • No More Plastic, by Alma Fullerton
  • Our Planet! There’s No Place Like Earth, by Stacy McNulty; illustrated by David Litchfield
  • She Heard the Birds: The Story of Florence Miriam Bailey, Pioneering Nature Activist, by Andrea D’Aquino
  • Snow Angel, Sand Angel, by Lois-Ann Yamanaka; illustrated by Ashley Lukashevksy
  • The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs, by Kate Messner; illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
  • The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest, by Heather Lang; illustrated by Jana Christy
  • The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver, by Gene Baretta; illustrated by Frank Morrison
  • Zonia’s Rain Forest, by Juana Martinez-Neal

Elementary (3–5)

  • A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park, by Ashley Benham Yazdani
  • Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, by Nancy J. Cavanugh
  • Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet, by Valentine Camerini
  • Operation Redwood, by S. Terrell French
  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World, by Laurie Lawlor; illustrated by Laura Beingessner
  • Summer of the Tree Army: A Civilian Conservation Corps Story, by Gloria Whlan; illustrated by Kirbi Fagan
  • The Last Bear, by Hannah Gold
  • The Last Beekeeper, by Pablo Cartaya
  • The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom, by Lita Judge
  • World Without Fish, by Mark Kurlansky; illustrated by Frank Stockton

Middle Grade (6–8)

  • Empty, by Suzanne Weyn
  • How to Bee, by Dren MacDribble
  • How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other, by Naomi Klein
  • Me and Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King
  • One Small Hop, by Madelyn Rosenberg
  • Paradise on Fire, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
  • Rescue at Lake Wild, by Terry Lynn Johnson
  • The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World, by Nancy F. Castaldo
  • Turn the Tide, by Elaine Dimopoulous

Upper Grades/YA (9–12)

  • Don’t Call Me a Hurricane, by Ellen Hagan
  • Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, by Paul Fleischman
  • Green Rising, by Lauren James
  • If Not Us, by Mark Smith
  • It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change, by Bridget Heos
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming, by Francesca Lia Block
  • The Carbon Diaries 2015, by Saci Llyod
  • The Renegades: Arctic Meltdown, by Jeremy Brown, David Selby and Katy Jakeway; illustrated by Katy Jakeway, Libby Reed and Ellenor Mererid
  • The Summer We Turned Green, by William Sutcliffe
  • We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change, by Sally M. Walker

Resources for Educators

All NYCPS staff and faculty can access resources for Climate Action Days—visit the Sustainability Coordinators page on the employee InfoHub for additional information.