Earth Day is here again, friends. And while every day is a great day to celebrate this beautiful and wondrous planet of ours, Saturday, April 22, 2023, is an especially good time to recommit yourself to starting new habits and dedicating yourself to a greener lifestyle.
Yes, saving the earth may seem challenging at times. If enough of us make adjustments in our everyday lives, we can effect change. Whether you are celebrating your first Earth Day or you’ve been attending Earth Day events for years, there might be something new.
To help inspire you, we’ve put together a list of 20 ways to celebrate Earth Day and keep our planet happier and healthier. So let’s get to it!
What Earth Day Is and Why It Matters
But first of all, why even celebrate Earth Day in the first place? For some, it’s just a little note on your calendar or day planner, barely worth a glance.
And do we really need two days that are all about protecting the earth? Isn’t that what Arbor Day is about?
Well … not really. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Earth Day?
The very first Earth Day was celebrated in1970, following the extensive environmental movement in the United States that took place in the 1960s. The focus of the event, first helmed by a Wisconsin senator, was conservation education and that first event included a widely publicized protest that helped change public policy within the United States. Some even credit these protests to helping form the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency!
Since the first event was wildly successful, garnering attention from approximately 20 million people, soon, the event spread globally, attracting even more attention to environmental issues and more participants around the world with their own Earth Day events.
Now, there’s even the Earth Day Network, an organization that promotes the spirit of Earth Day, every day of the year. It all comes back to the core focus that the day first started with: spreading awareness and information that can help inform decisions both big and small, both on a personal, individual household level, as well as on the governmental, state and national levels. Earth Day education touches on a variety of environmental and conservation issues, from climate change and carbon emissions to biodiversity, agricultural sustainability to waste reduction.
Why does Earth Day still matter?
Of course, while the very first Earth Day helped bring attention to worldwide issues that most private citizens weren’t even cognizant of, we still face a large amount of environmental challenges today. Climate change reports consistently warn us of pending issues that require change now. Without reducing emissions and changing the global carbon footprint, we risk increasingly severe negative impacts for humankind, all over the world.
However, despite the broad expanse of information available on the internet, it’s still difficult to know exactly how anyone can make a difference in big issues like climate change. Is just recycling your household waste enough when large corporations aren’t doing their part? And how do you know who to trust on climate issues, when there’s so much information out there and so much of it differs?
This is where Earth Day and the Earth Day Network still come in to play a vital role. With the right education and advocacy, focused on only one goal — saving the planet — we can all do our parts with confidence.
Earth Day vs. Arbor Day
So we can all probably agree now that Earth Day is pretty important, right? But what about Arbor Day? What’s the difference between these two environmentally focused holidays and why do we need them both?
Arbor Day usually takes place in late April (on the last Friday of the month), but the date can differ depending on climate and country. The whole point of Arbor Day is trees. That’s it. Trees, trees, trees. Plant ‘em, nurture ‘em, love ‘em.
Arbor Day is actually much, much older than Earth Day. Launched in Nebraska in the late 1800s, Arbor Day promoted the act of planting more trees in the area to meet the needs of the local populations (somewhat amusingly, the original goal wasn’t to plant trees to help the planet, as it is now; the day’s focus was, instead, to plant trees for future use in building, etc.).
Much like Earth Day, Arbor Day saw great success in its first year, with Nebraskans planting around a million trees. Now, though, Arbor Day has evolved and while the focus is still on planting trees, the reason why you should feel inspired to plant those trees has changed. Instead of inspiring you to plant trees by saying you might use that tree for firewood one day, the Arbor Day Foundation points out just how important trees are for the planet, our health, our local clean water sources and more.
So while participating in Arbor Day and its efforts can be part of your Earth Day celebration (particularly since the two holidays fall so closely together!), it’s important to realize that both holidays have their own places and serve important, interconnecting — even if different — roles.
How to Celebrate Earth Day 2023
Earth Day has been, since its inception, an educational, political holiday. The best way you can celebrate is by making your voice heard among your local, regional and national leaders, as well as by spreading the word about the importance of today’s climate issues.
However, beyond that, there are also plenty of ways to make small, one-time or continual changes in your own life, based on what you learn through your Earth Day efforts. As you make these small changes, further the educational goal of Earth Day by sharing why you might be making these small changes with your family members, friends and community.
1. Plant Something for Pollinators
As you’ve probably already heard, the population of bees, butterflies and other pollinators has been declining for some years now. Why is that so important? These insects pollinate more than one-third of the world’s food supply and form the basis of our entire ecosystem!
To put it simply: no pollinators mean no food! The good news is that even one pollinator plant or tree can make a difference.
Here are just a few plants to consider putting in your garden:
- Wild Marjoram
Remember, these are just a few plants to consider, but there are many more for you to explore to make your garden a more beautiful and planet-friendly place for our all-important pollinators!
2. Think Global. Buy Local! (Fruits and Veggies)
Did you know that produce from the grocery store travels an average of 1,500 miles? And all those miles add up to more fuel consumption and more pollution.
To help offset your carbon footprint and support local farmers, buy your fruits and veggies at the local farmer’s market. Plus, wandering around outdoors as you shop is a beautiful way to spend the day!
3. Buy a Water Filter for Your Kitchen Faucet
Our concern about tap water has pushed many of us into drinking bottled water. But even if you recycle the bottles you’re using; it’s important to remember that over 1.5 million barrels of oil per year are needed to manufacture those bottles in the first place. Yikes.
To help cut down on plastics, try buying a water filter for your kitchen sink. This one from Brita is a snap to install and filters out 99% of harmful chemicals such as lead, chlorine and asbestos.
4. Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
Buying a reusable water bottle is another great way to cut down on plastics. Personally, I love my Hydro Flask. It prevents me from buying single-use plastics while I’m out and about and keeps my drink cool.
(And FYI, 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators everyday!)
5. Try a Small-Scale Cleanup
Do you have a favorite park, lake, trail or beach where you like to spend time? Then you’ve probably noticed the inevitable stray pieces of trash that linger about. To celebrate Earth Day, keep your communal spaces beautiful by doing a small-scale cleanup.
Just bring along a bag and spend an hour collecting any trash that needs to go. And don’t forget to recycle those single-use plastics. Your happy place will look better than ever when you’re done, and you’ll also feel more beautiful on the inside!
6. Change a Lightbulb
Yes, celebrating Earth Day can literally be as easy as changing a lightbulb. Swapping out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs will save your energy and help the planet. LED bulbs also last an average of 25,000 hours compared to 1000 hours of incandescent bulbs, so you won’t have to change them very often.
Yep, it’s an all-around bright idea!
7. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree may be one of the first ways you think of to Celebrate Earth Day so let us remind you why that’s such a wonderful idea:
- Trees fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen.
- Trees prevent soil erosion and water runoff.
- Trees help to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
- Trees are said to increase your home’s value by up to 15%.
- Trees provide food and shelter for birds, pollinators and other creatures.
- Trees are simply beautiful and can reduce stress and anxiety.
And, finally, a tree is a gift that we can leave for future generations!
8. Give Up Meat for the Day
Okay, maybe you’re not ready to go fully vegan. But giving up meat even a day or two a week can make a difference to our planet. Why?
Livestock production creates more greenhouse gasses than the entire transportation sector. It’s also contributing to the deforestation of the planet as more and more land is cleared to make way for cattle. And did you know that it takes 425 gallons of water to produce one quarter-pound beef burger?
Yes, there’s no denying that eating meat is affecting our planet. So help take a bite out of pollution by chomping on a veggie burger instead!
9. Cancel Your Catalogs
Another super simple way to celebrate Earth Day is to cancel all of your catalogs. If you think that’s not a big deal, you should know that over 100 million trees are cut down every year to produce them and other junk mail.
You can go to catalogchoice.org to get your name off of those pesky mailing lists. Let’s keep our trees in the ground and out of your mailbox!
10. Ride Your Bike or Carpool
As we all know, cars create carbon emissions that contribute to pollution and global warming. So the fewer cars on the road, the better.
Instead, try biking or walking to places if you can. Carpooling to work is another great alternative, as is public transportation. Even if you can’t manage it every day, leaving your car in the driveway just a few days a week can help!
11. Green Up Your Wardrobe
Vintage is in everybody. And buying used clothing is not only cool but also helps the planet because no new materials are used in the process. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at the thrift shop, try buying vegan clothes or pieces that are made from sustainable materials.
There’s more than one way to keep yourself and the planet looking good!
12. Invest in Reusable Bags
Plastic bags are not recyclable. In America alone, it’s been estimated that we use 100 billion plastic bags a year! And that translates to 12 million barrels of oil. Ooph.
Instead, invest in some reusable bags for your produce and pack the rest of your groceries. Besides, with all the cute reusable bags out there, they’re way more stylish than plastic!
13. Change Your Kitchen and Household Products
So many of our household and kitchen products are made with chemicals that can be harmful to the planet and to us. The good news is that it’s super simple to switch them out for environmentally friendly versions.
Nowadays, you can find everything from compostable bags, chemical-free parchment paper, recycled aluminum foil, natural cleaners, soaps, laundry detergent and more! Check out this line from If You Care, and you’ll see that there’s a solution to just about everything.
14. Invest in a Rain Barrel
Hey, gardeners, this one’s for you! As we all know, water is a precious resource that we can’t afford to waste. That’s why buying a water barrel is a smart way to keep your garden and the planet greener.
With rain barrels, you can collect water from your gutters, roof and the sky. Then you can save it up for a not-so-rainy day! Your plants will love you for it.
15. Keep Chemicals Out of Your Garden
And while we’re on the subject of gardening, Earth Day is also a good time to commit to using natural methods and products in your yard and vegetable patch.
Consider companion planting and natural remedies to eliminate unwanted insects and educate yourself about bugs that are actually good for your garden.
And instead of using chemical fertilizers, try making your own compost with food scraps and clippings from your yard. Those coffee grounds, leftover veggies, leaves and weeds are like gardening gold, so why send them to a landfill?
All you need is a collection bin in your kitchen and a place to let it all decay in your yard. It’s more economical and better for the planet. And it could help turn your own garden into a little piece of Eden!
16. Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Knowledge is power. Especially knowledge about your carbon footprint. What is that exactly? It’s the total amount of greenhouse gasses generated by our actions—and driving, traveling, using the clothes dryer, and many other things contribute.
By calculating our carbon footprint, we can find the sources of our biggest emissions and take steps to reduce them. Check out this carbon footprint calculator to get started.
You might be surprised how much air pollution one person can contribute.
17. Use Your Voice
If there’s an environmental issue you’re fired up about, let your opinion be known by contacting your local representative or senator. An email may seem like a small step, but we can produce long-term change if enough people reach out.
If there’s an important vote about the environment coming up, be sure to tell your congressman or woman how you would like them to vote. And, of course, getting more people from your community to do the same can have an even bigger effect.
You never know the kind of change you can effect unless you try. And reaching out with an email or phone call is something we can all do. There are different rallies throughout the entire year, depending on where you live.
From supporting the Clean Air Act to the Endangered Species Act to the Clean Water Act, plenty of initiatives would love an extra voice.
18. Make a Donation or Volunteer
If you’re in the position to do so, a financial contribution to a non-profit organization is a thoughtful way to honor Earth Day. Whether you’re concerned about forest preservation, clean water, protecting wildlife or pollution, there’s an organization that could use your help.
Or, if you have the time to do so, you can also volunteer. Remember, every little bit we contribute counts! Plus, there are fun activities like
19. Get Kids Involved
Ultimately, our planet’s future rests in our children’s hands. That’s why it’s important to include your kids in any activity you choose to do. Whether cleaning up a park, planting a tree, making a bird feeder or anything else you choose, your concern about the planet will impress your little ones.
You can also volunteer or even start school programs for recycling or gardening. A little education at the right moment in a child’s life can long-term affect our environment. A great place to check would be your local children’s museum, university campus, or local gov website. There could be activities to celebrate earth week and get young ones involved in an environmental movement throughout the week.
20. Spend Time Outdoors
Last but definitely not least, treat yourself to some time in the great outdoors. After all, Earth Day is about appreciating this incredible planet.
So go for a walk in the park, hike up into the mountains, take a picnic to the lake, or take a few deep breaths in your backyard. Nature can both inspire and heal us. And when we spend time reveling in the wonders of this world, it’s a great reminder that we also need to take care of our amazing home.
21. Promote the use of reusable utensils, straws, and similar items
If you’ve already calculated your carbon footprint, you’ve likely realized how little, tiny actions impact the world around you. You’re adding to the world’s waste when you take a plastic straw at a restaurant or grab a handful of napkins on your way out of a fast-food restaurant.
Consider packing a set of reusable straws, utensils, and napkins in your purse or car for easy, on-the-go use whenever you’re in a restaurant or similar setting that only offers disposable items.
22. Begin Composting
Not only does composting keep waste out of the landfill, but it also provides you with a healthy alternative to chemical-laden fertilizers. Start composting in your backyard with just some simple gear you can pick up at your local hardware store.
Don’t have a need for your own backyard composting operation? Some neighborhoods gather together to compost multiple homes’ waste in one larger composter for everyone’s use at a later date.
23. Ask for More Options
One of the best ways to get a local business to change its ways? Show them that there’s customer demand for a certain offering — like more plant-based products, reusable straws, paper bags instead of plastic bags, etcetera.
The more you ask for certain, more environmentally-friendly items, and the more you encourage others to do the same, the more likely you are to actually see those items become available.
24. Buy Organic
Don’t live somewhere where you have easy access to a farmers market or many local farmers in your local community? Or don’t have that many local makers or producers in your town? If not, then you can still shop for your fruits, veggies, and other ingredients in a smart, eco-friendly way. Just look for certified-organic items that limit the use of pesticides.
25. Make Your Baby’s Life More Eco-Friendly
If you have a baby in the house, you can limit some of the major waste that comes with having an infant in the home. First, limit all that diaper waste (just think about how much your household’s trash has increased since bringing home your baby!) by switching to reusable cloth diapers.
Not a fan of reusable diapers? No worries. Not everyone is.
In that case, also consider swapping pre-made baby food that often comes in plastic packaging for either glass-only containers of baby food or making your own baby food at home. It’s way easier than you think and can usually be done either in large batches or at the same time you’re making the rest of your family’s food. With a little pureeing, the veggies and fruits you’re eating turn into healthy, delicious baby food that’s both good for your baby and the planet.
26. Use Less Water in the Bathroom
One of the easiest places to waste water without even thinking about it? The bathroom. You brush your teeth, and you leave the water running. You wash your face, and you leave the water running. You spend thirty minutes in the shower not because you need to but because you just really need the alone time.
Be cognizant of your water consumption the next time you go through your getting-ready-for-the-day or getting-ready-for-bed routine and cut that shower a little shorter than normal or remember to simply turn off the faucet.
27. Use Less Energy
On a similar note, make sure you’re actually turning off the lights. Not in the room? Don’t need the light. Sitting at your desk in a dark corner, reading, when you could be sitting in the sunny spot by the window? Turn off your lamp and go bask in the sun!
And does the thermostat really need to be set that low? If you’re attempting to cool your house, but the breeze outdoors is far more refreshing than what any AC unit can offer, turn off the climate control for a few hours and open a window.
28. Ditch Your Lawn
Lush, green lawns have always been a symbol of wealth — and they’re also a symbol of putting aesthetics before the environment. The average lawn requires a lot of care, resources (water, gas for the lawn mower, etcetera), and chemicals, and also reduces the native habitat, flora, and fauna.
Consider ditching your average lawn and replacing your grass with native plants and ground cover that attract pollinators and help the environment.
29. Buy in Bulk (Carefully)
One extremely simple way to cut down on the amount of plastic packaging that enters your home? Buying in bulk.
Of course, you’ll need to be careful about this. You don’t want to just buy something in bulk, only for that something to be covered in one outer layer of plastic, followed by lots of inner layers of plastic.
Instead, look for items that come all bunched together, with just one, outer layer of plastic packaging.
For example, don’t buy the toilet paper that comes in individually wrapped rolls that are then packaged in plastic in bundles of four, and which are then packaged in an outer layer of plastic to hold the 10 bundles together, for 40 rolls all covered in layers upon layers of plastic.
However, buy the snack foods that come in one single bag of multiple pounds for easy snacking and no more tiny, little bags of single servings of snacks.
30. Reduce Consumption
There’s no arguing that overall consumption adds to the world’s environmental woes. Consumption requires transportation, fossil fuels, manufacturing, waste, etcetera — and that applies to nearly everything you might consume that’s not created and sold locally.
Think about what your family consumes on a regular basis and how you might be able to cut down on your household’s overall consumption.
Are there items you can rent or borrow, rather than allowing them to be used once before being tossed after years of non-use? (Libraries are a great resource for this, now allowing you to check out all sorts of things you might not think of, from toys to kitchen countertop appliances to tools.) Can you buy higher-value items that require less replacing over time (like clothes that will last you for years of reuse rather than just one year)?
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy your Earth Day celebration. And even our smallest action can have a big effect over time. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate our planet on April 22nd and all year long. While this is typically a holiday celebrated by Americans, we think everyone worldwide should get behind some community earth day activities!
Whether you decide to recycle, ride your bike, change to healthier household products, eat less meat or anything else, be sure to carry through with your plan for the rest of the year.
Your actions can help the planet and also inspire other people to do the same. And as you know, we’re all in this together.
So go ahead and help a butterfly flap its wings, plant trees in your local park or consciously reuse something instead of throwing it away. It may inspire a tidal wave of change, and you can start to invest in our planet throughout the year. Nobody ever looks down on ways to help restore our earth. Remember, there is no planet b!
You might also be interested in: Eco-Friendly Ways To Reduce Your Waste
20 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day:
- Plant Something for Pollinators
- Think Global. Buy Local! (Fruits and Veggies)
- Buy a Water Filter for Your Kitchen Faucet
- Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
- Try a Small-Scale Cleanup
- Change a Lightbulb
- Plant a Tree
- Give Up Meat for the Day
- Cancel Your Catalogs
- Ride Your Bike or Carpool
- Green Up Your Wardrobe
- Invest in Reusable Bags
- Change Your Kitchen and Household Products
- Invest in a Rain Barrel
- Keep Chemicals Out of Your Garden
- Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
- Use Your Voice
- Make a Donation or Volunteer
- Get Kids Involved
- Spend Time Outdoors
- Promote the use of reusable utensils, straws, and similar items
- Begin Composting
- Ask for More Options
- Buy Organic
- Make Your Baby’s Life More Eco-Friendly
- Use Less Water in the Bathroom
- Use Less Energy
- Ditch Your Lawn
- Buy in Bulk (Carefully)
- Reduce Consumption