How to Celebrate Earth Day
The celebration of Earth Day is on April 22nd and it began 1970. It has grown into a global event recognized by over 192 countries. Devoting special a day to helping for the earth is a way to demonstrate how much we care about the future of our planet. No matter what you like to do best, there’s a way to get involved in Earth Day. You could plant a tree, make a meal with locally-grown vegetables, educate a family member, clean up trash in your neighborhood, set up a bird feeder or save power — the possibilities are endless. Remember, you don’t have to wait for Earth Day to show your love for the planet we call home.
- Learn more about the environment. Earth Day is a good time to make a commitment to learning more about the environment and how you can help to protect it. Read articles to get up to date on the current issues affecting the environment, like pollution, water shortages, and climate change. Or, learn about a region you’ve never considered before, like the Arctic, the deserts, or the rain forests. Not sure where to start? Check out your local news sources for information about environmental issues in your own backyard.
- Understand how climate change works, and what you can do about it.
- If you live in a city, look into urban environmental issues like contaminated drinking water and energy conservation.
- If you live near a body of water, do research to find out whether it’s healthy or in need of help.
- Learn more about fracking, which is affecting many communities in the United States.
- Find out which species native to your area are under threat of extinction.
- Join an environmental group. Think about the issues that concern you the most and if you haven’t done so already, join a local group that undertakes activities to help protect the environment in your area. Earth Day is a great day to start getting involved. In almost any community, you’ll find local groups that do the following:
- Host clean-ups of local bodies of water and their shores
- Fight air and water pollution
- Plant trees and install community gardens
- Protect habitats under threat of getting developed
- Can’t find a group? Consider starting your own.
- Spread the word. Everyone has environmental knowledge they can share with others. Just talking about the environment with people who may not think about it that much is a good way to celebrate Earth Day. Talk to your parents, friends, teachers, siblings, and anyone else you’d like about the issues you care about most. Here are a few ways to educate others about the earth:
- Give a speech at your local library on how to compost with worms
- Take a group of children down to the recycling center to show them how things are recycled
- Recite nature poems in the park
- Offer to teach your office colleagues how to make environmentally-friendly choices at work during lunch hour
- Encourage people to respond and if they have no opinions or they seem to not know much, help them learn some more by imparting your environmental knowledge in a friendly and helpful manner.
- Get a group of friends to wear green and brown. When people ask you why you’re dressed like a tree, take the opportunity to talk about Earth Day.
- Go to an Earth Day fair. Maybe your school, your street, or your local neighborhood is holding an environmental fair. If your community doesn’t have one planned, consider starting one yourself. It’s the perfect day to get together for a fun and educational celebration of the earth. Money raised can go towards a local environmental restoration project or to an environmental group agreed upon by all the participants running the fair. These offerings are common at Earth Day fairs:
- Demonstrations of environmentally-friendly products
- Children’s earth-themed artwork
- Healthy/locally grown foods to eat
- Animal care demonstrations (including wildlife rescue)
- Games for the children made of recycled products
- Musicians and actors performing environmental music and skits
- Stalls for recycling unwanted treasures and books
- Local environmental organizations presenting their issues and wares.
- Enjoy Earth Day entertainment. There are many Earth Day song lyrics available on the Internet. Most follow well-known tunes so people can easily sing along. These make a fantastic classroom activity and help younger children to become interested in environmental topics. iTunes has many songs about the Earth for downloading: try searching for words such as “planet”, “Earth”, “endangered”, “pollution” etc.
- Cook a special Earth Day meal. Invite friends and family over for a meal, and plan a menu that uses locally produced foods, is healthy and has minimal impact on the environment. Favor vegetables, fruit and other produce, as these use less resources to grow than mass-farmed meat. If you still would like meat, look for locally produced, organic meat. Try to have organic food completely.
- To decorate for the meal, use recycled decorations made by you and your friends instead of buying brand-new decorations.
- When you wash up after the meal, use the low-water dishwashing method. Teach those who are helping how to use it, too.
- Remember that every day is Earth Day. Anything to help our environment is a perfect thing to do on Earth Day and every day. Don’t restrict yourself to just one day a year; learn about how you can make a difference to environmental protection all the time. It’s going to take a lot of work to heal our planet. Leading by example will help others remember that the earth is important every day of the year.
EditCaring for Trees, Plants and Animals
- Plant trees. As the date of Earth Day roughly coincides with U.S. Arbor Day, planting trees is a popular Earth Day activity. Trees helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean pollution, secure soil in place to prevent erosion, and provide homes for many birds, insects and other animals. There’s almost no more important, long-lasting act you can do to celebrate Earth Day.
- Pick a tree that you know can survive in your climate. It’s best to find a species native to where you live. If you’re unsure about what that might be, ask an employee at your local garden shop, or inside the garden department of a big-box store.
- To ensure that the tree grows tall and strong, make sure you plant it correctly. Choose the correct planting spot to meet its needs, dig a properly-sized hole, and water the tree well to give it a good start.
- Plant wildflowers. Choose flowers that are native to your area and plant them in your garden or on nature strips where plants are usually grown. Restoring the local plant life will help attract native bird life, pollinators and local mammals. Here are a few examples of common flowers that will draw wildlife:
- If you want to attract Monarch butterflies, plant milkweed, pansies or goldenrod.
- If you want to attract bees, plant bee balm, lavender or sage.
- If you want to attract hummingbirds, plant foxglove, petunias or lilies.
- Welcome animals into your yard. You can do a lot for the creatures of the earth starting in your own yard or neighborhood. In their quest for the perfect lawn, many people drive out the insects, rodents, birds and reptiles that need a place to call home just as much as we do. Starting on Earth Day, why not welcome these nonhuman neighbors into your yard? Here’s how to do it.
- Instead of mowing the entire yard, leave a few sections unmowed. Bees, butterflies, and many other insects will find this inviting. If you’re worried about them coming inside, have the unmowed area in the back of the yard instead of right next to the house.
- Install a bird feeder, bat feeder, squirrel feeder, hummingbird feeder, or any other type of feeder to attract more wild animals.
- Provide a source of water, like a bird bath or a small pond.
- Don’t try to get rid of snakes, lizards, frogs, moles, squirrels, and the other creatures who want to hang out in your yard. Many of these animals are beneficial; they aerate your yard, eat mosquitoes and improve biodiversity in the area. Live and let live. Tell your neighbors to do the same!
- Talk to your neighbors about going organic. Pesticides and herbicides can harm wild animals, native plants, trees, pets, and even humans. Make Earth Day the day you stop using chemicals in your yard and try organic methods of weed and pest removal instead. Consider talking to your neighbors about making the whole neighborhood organic.
- Getting rid of pests the old-fashioned way can actually be more effective than using pesticides. Try planting native plants to control the insect population. Use water to spray common insects like aphids off of your vegetable plants.
- When it comes to weeds, pulling them out by hand works better than any other method.
- Commit to protecting local wild places. Whether you live near an ocean, river, forest, mountain, swamp or lake, wild areas like these need protection. They are home to many plants and animals who rely on them for food and shelter. On Earth Day, commit to protecting the wild places in your community by doing the following:
- Join a group working to protect these areas from pollution and developments.
- Encourage people to respect wild spaces by not damaging animal habitats, littering, and dumping in the water.
- Clean up litter in your community. Many groups use the weekend of Earth Day to clear roadways, highways and neighborhood streets of litter that has accumulated since the last clean-up day. Many companies donate gloves and bags for clean-up groups and villages organize bag pick ups. Once the group has collected the trash and placed the recycled bags along the road, get the village public works department to pick the bags up. It’s a wonderful community project that you can do as an individual or with a group.
EditEating Earth-Friendly Food
- Eat food from local sources. Eating food that was grown or raised as close to your home as possible is important for a variety of reasons. Locally-grown food doesn’t require as much gas to arrive in your town and end up on the shelves in your grocery store. The closer to your home it was grown, the more environmentally friendly it is.
- Farmer’s markets are a great place to find local foods. Most foods available in farmer’s markets were grown within a 50-mile vicinity.
- Some grocery stores have a section devoted to locally-grown foods. Look for foods that were produced in your state, or better yet, within 50 miles of your town.
- Look for foods that were produced on small farms, rather than manufactured at factories.
- Plant a vegetable garden. When it comes to eating local, you can’t get much closer to home than your own yard. You can grow a lot of different vegetables in a relatively small space. Earth Day falls during the perfect time of year to plant a garden. Try clearing a bit of grass away and planting a few different varieties to try out during the summer.
- Squash is a great choice, since one plant produces enough to feed a small family for several weeks.
- Tomatoes are popular among novice gardeners.
- Beans are relatively low-maintenance.
- Herbs take up very little room, and can be grown in pots.
- Don’t have space for a garden? See if there’s a community garden in your area where you can start using a plot.
- Consider a vegetarian or vegan diet. Most meat is manufactured in an industrial setting under conditions that pollute the environment and are cruel to the animals.Mass-produced meat is normally pumped full of hormones, making it unhealthy for humans to consume. Eliminating meat from your diet is considered a great way to do your part to help the environment. Why not make April 22 your first meatless day?
- A vegetarian diet is free of meat and fish, while a vegan diet is free of all animal products (including eggs, honey and dairy products). Choose the diet that works best for your health needs.
- If you don’t want to give up meat entirely, consider buying your meat products only from local farms where you know how the animals were treated. Look for farms that allow animals space to roam and feed them healthy food.
- Cook from scratch. Pre-made, processed foods require preservatives and a lot of packaging to keep them from going bad before you eat them. Check out the list of ingredients on items like frozen dinners, packaged snack foods and other common grocery store items. They likely contain extra sugars, chemical flavorings and other ingredients that aren’t good for the environment or our bodies. The solution is to buy foods in their natural form and cook from scratch.
- Even if a product is labeled “natural,” check the ingredients. If you see words you can’t pronounce, you probably don’t need to eat it.
- Not sure you know how to cook from scratch? Start with easy dishes like omelets, casseroles, smoothies, or steamed vegetables. Once you learn some basic techniques, you’ll be able to cook more and more dishes from scratch.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle. Buy as little as possible and avoid items that come in lots of packaging. Start good habits on Earth Day and carry them through all year long. Here are a few ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle:
- Support local growers and producers of food and products. These don’t have to travel as far and so reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Take your drink container with you, and don’t use any disposable plates or cutlery. Recycle all the things you do use for the day or find other uses for things that you no longer use.
- Carry a cloth bag for carrying things in and recycle your plastic bags.
- Buy or make Earth-friendly cleaning products. Try making up a simple vinegar-and-water counter cleaner, or swapping out your bleach cleaner for a less-toxic orange-based one. Making your own cleaning products saves money and packaging. Homemade cleaning products also often work just as well as industrial-strength chemicals.
- A solution of half vinegar, half water can be used to clean floors, bathrooms, cabinets, counters, and just about anything else in your home.
- To remove stains from carpeting, clothing or other fabrics, make a paste with baking soda and water. Let it sit on the stain for a few minutes, then scrub it away with a toothbrush.
- Entertain kids with homemade crafts and toys. Instead of using store-bought toys, help kids appreciate the beauty of reusing something old to make it fun and new. Tell kids to get creative and come up with their own ideas for how to make something around the house into a toy. Here are a few ideas:
- Build a birdhouse or make a bird feeder to encourage the local bird population, which plays an important role in every ecosystem.
- Turn used guitar strings into a centerpiece.
- Make a basket from an old orange juice carton.
- Convert an old floppy disk into a Starship Enterprise.
- Wear a skirt made out of old umbrellas.
- Sell or donate used items instead of throwing them away. Hold a garage sale, donate, or reuse household items. Many of us take up a lot of natural resources with stuff we don’t really need, want or use. Ironically, there’s a still lot of people who don’t have basic necessities. Plus, a lot of your unwanted clutter can be used by local charities to resell for much-needed cash.
- Another idea is to hold a clothing swap. This can be a fun, free way for friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and the like to find new wardrobe finds. (You can combine with an Earth Day lunch or dinner, too!)
- Learn about product exchange communities like Freecycle and other alternatives.
- Start a compost bin. Instead of throwing out your food scraps, turn them into soil for your garden. This process is called composting. Banana peels, egg shells, carrot tops and avocado skins don’t belong in the trash, where they’ll just end up in a landfill. To start composting,
- Collect all of your food scraps (except for meat and dairy products) in a closed bin.
- Add leaves, sticks, grass clippings and other organic items to the mix.
- Turn the mixture every few days using a pitchfork.
- The compost will break down into a rich, brown soil after several months of turning.
EditSaving Energy and Water
- Consider buying a carbon offset. This is designed to make up for the greenhouse gas emissions you create on the other 364 days of the year. Carbon offsets fund reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through projects such as wind farms, that displaces energy from fossil fuels.
- Ride your bike. Use your bicycle or other forms of human powered transportation to commute to work or school and to run errands. This is a lot more environmentally friendly than relying on cars to get wherever you’re going.
- If your school or work is too far to bike, look for a form of public transportation you can take. A bus, train or shuttle is better for the environment than driving alone in your car.
- Or consider carpooling with a few friends who are going in the same direction.
- Conserve water in your house. Do you tend to use more water than you need while going about your daily chores and business? There are little things you can do that make a big difference in how much water you use. Plus, conserving water will keep your water bill down. Try adopting these habits:
- While brushing your teeth or washing your hands, turn the water off when not in use. Turn the water off when you are brushing.
- If you are washing your hands, turn the water off when you are scrubbing your hands with soap.
- Take shorter showers every day from Earth Day on.
- Install a grey water system in your home. Recycle water from the house for the garden.
- Wash your car using a bucket rather than the hose. Drive the car onto grass for cleaning, so that the water you do use also waters the grass.
- Save electricity. It’s one of the first ways many of us are taught to be environmentally friendly, yet we all need help remembering how important it is to do things like turn off the lights when you leave the room. There are many ways you can save more electricity on a daily basis:
- Vow to use less air conditioning in the summer, and less heat in the winter.
- Turn off all appliances and electronics when you aren’t using them.
- Use energy-saving light bulbs or install skylights on your house’s roof. You could also make mason jar luminaries as well.
- Switch to low-energy appliances.
- Search the Internet for many more ideas. Earth Day is celebrated in many different ways. A really good way to find more information is to surf the internet and look at what other people have done. There is so much there that it cannot be replicated here!
- Simple things, such as asking young children to use less paper to dry their hands or asking work colleagues to turn the lights off when they leave the office at night are great “small starters” to encourage bigger changes. You don’t need to feel that you haven’t time to contribute; every little changed habit that benefits the environment adds up and you are setting a good example to others.
- The other Earth Day is celebrated usually on March 21, which is the equinox for spring in the Northern Hemisphere and for autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. This Earth Day is supported by the United Nations and the Japanese Peace Bell is rung at the New York United Nations to remind everyone of our place in the human family on our precious planet Earth. See International Earth Day Official Site for further information.
- Cleaning up part of your local area can be a great way to celebrate Earth Day, but make sure all participants are properly attired or outfitted. Gloves are an absolute must and if you are collecting litter, sticks with prongs for picking it up are useful. Warn participants to be careful of sticking their fingers into dark places where biting animals might reside and to be careful of syringes and other dangerous items.
- Encourage Recycling at Work
- Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Save Money on Gas
- Choose the Most Important Organic Foods
- Be an Earthy Girl
- Take Action to Reduce Global Warming
- Create Urban Rainforests
- Celebrate Teacher’s Day
EditSources and Citations
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