7 Ways to Honor the Earth on Earth Day

By Lucille Lannigan

Earth Day is Friday, April 22, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy mother nature and learn about ways to protect her. Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. In 1969, a Wisconsin senator organized a country-wide demonstration to raise awareness for environmental issues. He was concerned about the deteriorating environment and had just witnessed the destruction from a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He organized teach-ins, and people across the country rallied in support. By the end of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was created. 

Each year, this holiday sees more than a billion people mobilize to protect the planet from harmful things like pollution or deforestation. It’s the perfect day to spend in nature and admire the outdoors, but it’s also a great day to educate yourself on environmental threats and how we can work to minimize them. 

Here are a few ways to spend your Earth Day, saving the planet and having fun:

  • Clean up a local park, neighborhood or preserve: Grab a trash bag and take a walk through your neighborhood or on a nearby trail in a preserve or park. You’re sure to find some litter tossed aside. As you take a walk through nature, pick up the trash you see and make sure you pick up any trash that you might leave behind. Make sure to dispose of the trash properly afterwards. This is a simple way to spend time outside while also cleaning up natural areas.

  • Be car-free for a day: Greenhouse gas emissions from cars or other modes of transportation make up about 29% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This means that transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Cars are a part of everyday life, and most people drive them nearly every day without thinking about the negative impact on the environment. On Earth Day, try to go car-free for the day. Whether you carpool, ride a bike or use public transportation, this is a great way to limit your contribution to pollution for the day. You’ll probably even realize that using a car isn’t always necessary and use can be limited!

  • Spend time outside: With the business of working and everyday life it can be hard to find time to relax in nature. For this Earth Day, make time to go outside. Go on a hike, put up a hammock or go for a picnic in a park. Take a moment to acknowledge the beauty of the outdoors and find gratitude for the Earth and all it provides us. Before you leave, make sure you’ve left the space cleaner than when you found it!

  • Use your green thumb: Gardening is a great, peaceful activity, but done correctly, it can also help the environment! In your own yard, support pollinators by planting flora that attract butterflies, bees or hummingbirds. Planting trees, wildflowers and native plants is also a great way to help the environment. These things can capture carbon, support pollinators and attract native insects that are important to ecosystems. Do this in your own personal garden or find out how to safely plant this flora in public spaces.
  • Support a local environmental nonprofit organization: Alachua County is full of beautiful natural, public spaces that need funding for upkeep. If you’re able, Earth Day is a great day to donate to some of these organizations. Click here to find a few.
  • Educate yourself: Climate change is a very real threat to the health and sustainability of our Earth and the life it supports. Climate change affects biodiversity, sea levels, weather and more. While this issue cannot be solved by the individual, there are small things we can do in our everyday lives to help combat climate change. Make sure to recycle. Find ways to conserve water or electricity. Use less plastic. Spend some of Earth Day educating yourself and your family on climate change and what you can do to help the problem.
  • Make green promises and affirmations: After you’ve done some research on climate change, make some promises or affirmations that will help combat it. Whether this is using your car less throughout the week or becoming more conscientious of your water use, these small changes can help greatly to reduce your carbon footprint. Make a list of these and hang it in your home to remember and stick to them.

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