The truth is we can all take steps every day to protect, honor and serve the planet. However, Earth Day, recognized this year on April 22, 2021, presents a plethora of focused ways to engage with fellow activists, environmentalists and scientists. The Earth Day Initiative in partnership with March For Science NYC consolidates your options in one online location at www.earthdayinitiative.org. Here are just a few ways to get involved locally or virtually on Earth Day this year.
Earth Day 2021 virtual fair
With the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person gatherings are few and far between. After learning from the quickly developed Earth Day virtual event last year that included notable activists like Bill Nye, Elizabeth Warren and Al Gore, organizers have made the 2021 event virtual again but even more interactive and comprehensive.
Technology allows attendees to view the event from home with their personalized avatar touring the space, like a video game. Visitors can interact with exhibitors simply by approaching as an avatar. The system opens Zoom windows automatically when you get close so you can engage in a discussion.
The goal, this year and every year, is to continue the climate conversation by sharing information about ways to make a positive impact. Hot topics at the event will include wellness, renewable energy, sustainable food solutions, environmental justice, zero-waste living and youth environmental activism.
The event starts Sunday, April 18 and extends into Monday, April 19 as a kick off to Earth Week. If you’re interested in attending, you can RSVP in advance for free. If you want to represent a nonprofit or sustainably minded business, you can register as an exhibitor.
Three days of climate action
Earth Day Initiative in partnership with March For Science NYC is also hosting a virtual, three-day summit in conjunction with President Biden’s climate summit for global leaders. The focus for these events is improving climate literacy, promoting environmental justice and creating a platform for a broad range of youth-led, climate-focused issues.
It begins on April 20, and the youth climate summit is organized and promoted by Earth Uprising, My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs and hundreds of youth climate activists. The four-hour digital event will cover a range of hot topics including green jobs, climate literacy, civic skill training, environmental justice, biodiversity protection and sustainable agriculture. That same evening, the Hip Hop Caucus and its partners will present the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit, which will highlight the connection between the climate crisis and poverty, pollution and racial issues.
April 21 will launch the “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit” presented by Education International. This virtual gathering will focus on the importance of educators in spreading messages about climate change.
Parallel to Biden’s summit that takes place on Earth Day, April 22, the Earth Day organization will sponsor a live digital event covering ongoing discussions regarding environmental education, climate restoration and innovative ideas.
Pick your passion project
If you’re not interested in or able to attend these virtual events, there are a slew of other organized events to consider. The Earth Day website provides an interactive map, with an available filter, that shows ways you can get involved in your area or through an organization that shares your particular passion.
You can participate with a local cause, such as garbage clean-ups and other events, learn more about ways to help the planet through educational events, or join an aviary or conservation group in their scheduled activities.
Start your own event
If you have a particular passion and you’d like to lead the cause, you can register your event on the Earth Day website, and the organization will help you advertise and bring people together. Earth Day asks that you adhere to local restrictions in regard to the pandemic. However, even if you can’t gather in person, the opportunity to be virtual also provides a wider audience beyond those that may be able to attend locally.
Remember the small things
There are a million ways to honor the Earth on its special day, and celebrations don’t have to be via virtual or in-person gatherings. Instead, look within your own home and lifestyle for actions that will lower your impact and facilitate the health of the planet.
It can be as simple as cancelling your print magazine or picking up trash while on a hike. Look up a food, water or electrical footprint calculator and take the quiz to figure out where you can conserve. Plan a week of vegan meals. Learn more about regenerative farming and eliminate tilling on your property. Plant a tree or flowers. Write your congressperson. Promote climate literacy at the local level within schools and the community.
You can become part of a global community gathering information about the planet by downloading the Global Earth Challenge app. Provide information in regards to air quality, water quality, insect populations, climate change, plastic pollution and food sustainability to help guide policies for the future.
Within your own home, look for ways to eliminate plastic by taking your own shopping and produce bags to the store. Shop in bulk and bring your own containers. Make foods from scratch instead of buying prepackaged options. Buy textiles made from natural materials like hemp, bamboo and organic cotton. Conserve water by saving pasta water or collected shower water for your plants, indoors or out. Reuse bath water for the pets.
Reduce your car emissions by saving up for an electric car, or consolidate trips to the store, ride your bike, walk or rely on public transportation. You can also set up a ride-share with coworkers and carpools with other parents.
April 22 is just a date on the calendar, but it’s an excellent motivation to come together as a community for the benefit of the planet.