Just in case you're scratching your head wondering what to do this Earth Day, we've rounded up a list of our favorite eco-activities that will help remind you why you love living on this planet so much. In honor of the movement's political history, which dates all the way back to 1970, we've included suggestions that promote a little extra earth-loving care as well as a renewed sense of connection to this beautiful place we call home. Although we believe that every day should be Earth Day, we hope you will join millions of people across the globe on April 22nd to do at least one thing that will make our planet a better place to live.
Happy Hikers, Shutterstock
1. Take a Hike
There is no better way to get back in touch with the Earth’s rhythms than to actually go outdoors and experience its many wonders. This Earth Day, why not take a hike or go for a bike ride? Maybe even go kayaking? The point is, get outdoors, breathe the air, feel the sun on your cheeks and absorb some vitamin D. Even if you live in the city and don’t have easy access to a lot of green space, you’d be amazed how even spending a short amount of time in an urban park will rejuvenate your soul.
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2. Get Involved in a Community Garden
If you have never experienced the magic of rolling up your sleeves and digging up some earth, then now is the perfect opportunity. Gardening is a wonderful way to reflect on how much we depend on the earth for our survival. If you don’t have your own garden or you live in a city, don’t fret. A quick google search should lead you to at least one communal garden or rooftop garden and we’re almost certain they won’t turn down your help. Plus you’ll get to meet new people who love the planet as much as you.
Home Energy Diagram, Shutterstock
3. Do a Home Energy Audit
Not everyone has their own home, but if you do, nothing tells the planet “I love you” more than a home energy audit. Since most of the world is still powered by fossil fuels, that means your home is too, and if energy is pouring out of it because of poor construction, you are inadvertently releasing unnecessary greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Don’t feel guilty about it because it’s not your fault, but you can make a difference by calling up a certified auditing company to audit your home. They will tell you exactly what steps you need to take in order to tighten up your energy efficiency, like sealing windows and unplugging appliances.
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4. Clean Out Your Closet and Donate to a Charity
It may not always be so obvious, but manufacturing new clothing requires both energy and water, and there are many people who don’t have money to buy their own. So this Earth Day, why not clean out your overstuffed closet and then donate those t-shirts and shorts you haven’t worn in years to a local charity. Not only will this make you feel good about lightening your load, but the people who receive your lightly used clothing will so thankful you’ll wonder if it’s Christmas and not Earth Day!
Antique constitution, Shutterstock
5. Write a Letter to Your Government Representative
The original Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a US senator from Wisconsin who was eager to mobilize the kind of energy that made the Vietnam-era protests possible in order to demand environmental justice. In the spirit of this history, why not use Earth Day as an excuse to write that letter you’ve been meaning to send to your local government representatives. Although it doesn’t always seem so, every person matters, so whether you are particularly concerned about water issues or fracking, write your letter on April 22, 2012 and make your voice heard.
Kids planting a tree, Shutterstock
6. Plant a Tree
It might sound like a bit of a cliche, but planting trees is by far one of the most important gifts we can give back to the planet and to ourselves. Global warming is caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere (such as carbon dioxide and methane), which traps heat on the planet. But trees have the ability to suck up carbon dioxide, which is why the Amazon and other forests are so important. If every person on the planet plants one tree, that amounts to nearly 7 billion new carbon sponges. You can plant a tree in your own backyard, or join a group.
7. Volunteer for an Environmental Charity
Earth Day is an excellent day to volunteer. There are countless charities all over the planet that are raising money, cleaning up rivers, teaching classes, and in general engaging in the kind of earth-friendly work that will not only last today, but that will continue throughout the rest of the year. If you’re not sure about where to spend your valuable resources, contact the Earth Day organizers and they will direct you to the most suitable program for you.
8. Watch Koyaanisqatsi
Sometimes we get so caught up in the rat race that we fail to take stock of the damage we, collectively, are doing to the planet. It’s times like these that we might need a little creative and there’s no better place to get that than Reggio’s first film in the Qatsi Trilogy —Koyaanisqatsi. Named after a Hopi Indian word that means “life out of balance,” Koyaanisqatsi explores the relationship between technology and the environment in an apocalyptic film that doesn’t look so different from today’s reality. It will give you a serious wakeup call and inspire you to do everything on this list every day of the year.
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9. Go Vegan or Vegetarian for the Day
If you’re already a vegetarian or vegan then this might not be for you, but if you eat meat then this is something that you can do that will make a staggering difference. Both raising beef and the pesticides used are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention meat’s harmful impact on your health. For one day, why not try eating a delicious vegan or vegetarian meal. If you keep an open mind you’ll be surprised how delicious it can be. If you’re not confident about your own cooking, go with a friend to a vegan or vegetarian restaurant in your area. Just for a day. You never know, it might become a habit.
Beach party, Shutterstock
10. Throw a Green Party
We forget sometimes that life is something that is worth celebrating. The very fact that we exist is one of the greatest miracles imaginable, so why not use this day as the perfect opportunity to hang out with your favorite green mates. Pull out the biodegradable silverware, or buck up and use your own, brew some organic beer, cook some good wholesome food, and spend time with the ones you love. Being part of a community is one of the most important aspects of eco-conscious living that not only benefits the planet, but you as well.
Happy Earth Day everyone!