The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

20 April 2007

Celebrate Earth Day this year: April 22

There are actually two Earth Days. The first is a celebration of the Earth which is held on the Spring Equinox (around 20/21 March) when night and day are of equal length all over the planet. John McConnell first introduced this idea of a global Earth Day holiday at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in 1969, and designed an Earth Flag. The second Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 to demonstrate public support for the environmental agenda. This was started by US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who called for an Environmental Teach-in or Earth Day in 1970. This is now observed annually by more than 500 million people in 175 countries. Both Earth Days are supported by the United Nations. And here are 10 things you can do to make our planet just that little bit better.

1. Listen out for Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Go and hear him speak; see his Oscar-winning film; read his book. Al is not the only person trying to galvanise people to do something about global warming, but he is articulate and everywhere. Take a look at Al’s top ten things to do to address global warming:

2. Measure your ecological footprint. Find out how much of the earth’s resources you are consuming, because we are trashing the planet at an unsustainable rate. And do the Ecological Footprint Quiz for Earth Day: and

3. Do one small thing today to reduce your impact on the planet. Switch to using low energy bulbs; turn of your TV rather than leave it on stand-by; turn down the thermostat in summer and up in winter; share your ride to and from work. All this is plain common sense anyway. And then do one more thing tomorrow…

3. Save the rainforest. Buy one a square meter with a click of your mouse.

4. Go guerrilla gardening. “Armed with trowels, seeds, and vision, the idea is to garden everywhere. Anywhere.” and And whilst you are at it, check out the power of wild flowers to transform the environment:

5. Become a Kokopelli seed grower. Save your seeds, and use them to grow more seeds. Help create a seed fund to provide poor farmers in poor countries with the seeds they need for their gardens and small farms. Tomatoies, melons, lettuces, beets, carrots, pulses… every species will find a home somewhere.

6. Hunt butterflies. How butterfly populations are changing provides us with a unique perspective on environmental change. Select a fixed route walk around 2 miles long. Record the butterfly population in a 5-yard wide band along the route each week from the beginning of April until the end of September. Find out how at and contact your local butterfly conservation society.

7. Pick up one piece of litter today. Litter is an eyesore and endangers safety. The Litter Movement started in Finland and is spreading around the globe. “We pick up at least one piece of litter every day and invite at least one person to join the movement.”

8. Own a virtual pet. Have all the fun of owning a pet without any of the environmental consequences. Get an electronic toy such as a Tamagotchi, which you feed, walk and look after. Adopt a virtual pet on-line. Join a virtual pet community, play games and enter into competitions with other virtual pet owners. Find out about the wonderful world of cyberpets:

9. Give some worms to your best friend as a present. They will compost kitchen waste. For worm towers, worm condos, worm farms and other wonderful vermicomposting systems where the worms do all the work, go to Check out the “Desktop Wormery” as a fun gift at

10. Fly the Flag. Get an Earth Flag from Fly it with pride to show your commitment for a sustainable and fairer world.

Or if you feel that the world has no future, then give it all up. Have a second life…. or go and live on Mars: and

One final tip. There may be no such thing as a free lunch; but there is free coffee. Get a bag of free coffee from Starbucks. They give them away their used coffee grounds for people to use for composting or as a dressing for their plants.

Find out more about how you can change the world by getting hold of a copy of Michael Norton’s “365 Ways to Change the World”. Or visit

Books for schools

Books can change peoples’ lives – sometimes through the ideas they contain; sometimes by contributing to children’s education in primary and secondary schools.

The world is gearing up for Universal primary Education by 2015, which is one of the 8 Millennium Development Goals: And countries are developing their own plans to achieve these.

The Tanzanian Secondary Education Development Plan aims to increase the number of students attending secondary school. However, the Tanzanian Government does not have the provisions to satisfy the demand for textbooks. It is estimated that without additional investment, by 2010 the ratio of textbooks to children will fall from 1:5 to 1:15. And even 1.5 is far too few!

Many developed countries have a huge surplus of no-longer-used textbooks, reference books and sports equipment which can remain locked up in school storerooms and cupboards for years, unused… before being sent for recycling.

Some university students in England are trying to collect school books and distribute them in Tanzania. The Tanzania Book Project was started by Robert Wilson and a group of his student friends at Nottingham University in 2003. Within 18 months, they had collected 40,000 textbooks from local schools and raised £8000 to fund the project. In 2005, their first container arrived in Tanzania containing 25,000 good quality text books, 20 computers and various items of sports equipment. These were distributed to 20 secondary schools in the Singida region of Tanzania.

In August 2007, the Tanzania Book Project will distribute approximately 125,000 secondary school textbooks across five regions of Tanzania. Book Projects have now been established in five universities in England: Liverpool John Moores, Nottingham, Bedfordshire, Warwick and Southampton. Student volunteers will collect up to 40,000 textbooks from their local secondary schools, sort through the books, match them to the syllabus and send at least 25,000 books each to a region of Tanzania.

Robert and his friends have set up a charity called READ International to coordinate and expand this work. It is hoped to expand to 12 Book Projects in 2007-08, and then to 20 Book Projects in 2008/2009.

If you are a student at a university you may be interested in starting a Tanzania Book Project of your own. This really is a very simple process. READ International will provide you with a CD starter pack. All it requires are three students to act as Project Leaders and twenty as Student Volunteers. There will then be an opportunity for up to 8 of these students to go out to Tanzania in the summer to deliver the 20,000 textbooks that they have collected.

If you are a publisher or a teacher and can help with books, do get in touch.

If you have a few pounds to give away or are thinking of organizing a fundraising event, why not do it for READ. You will not only be bringing much-needed books to schools and communities in Tanzania, but you will also be assisting a group of young people to address a key development issue in a really imaginative way.

For more information, contact:

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