Earth Day was started in 1970 as a way to make people aware that the environment must be protected if it is to continue providing us with the air, water and food we need to survive. Four-plus decades later, there is still much to be done and opportunities for everyone to help. Check out these activity ideas for April 22 (and all year round):
Join a clean-up party. Many local, state and federal parks, lakes, highways, residential neighborhoods and playgrounds sponsor Earth Day events where volunteers pick up litter, pull weeds and get the public areas ready for a summer of fun.
Ditch the packaging. Plastic and paper bottles, bags, boxes and other packaging add huge volumes of trash to our landfills. Some easy switch-outs include:
Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store. Even better, make your own bags out of old garments or household linens you were going to throw away.
Carry your own reusable water bottle (saves money too).
Make more meals at home instead of getting takeout/delivery (healthier too).
Plant trees or flowers. Another popular Earth Day event is for volunteers to help re-forest and beautify nature preserves or public spaces. Restoring local plant life will also bring back the birds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial creatures that are essential to a healthy, functioning ecosystem.
Eat earth-friendly. Mass-produced food is cheap for the eater but extremely expensive for the environment. Processing and shipping consume huge amounts of energy and often pollute the air and land as well.
Go local. Vegetables, fruits, dairy, etc. grown nearby not only help prevent greenhouse gases caused by long-distance transport, they will also be fresher and tastier.
Go meatless. Not only is industrially produced meat polluting to the environment and cruel to animals, it's also full of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that are unhealthy to eat.
Go organic. Look for foods that have been grown without herbicides and pesticides that kill far more plants and insects than the farmer intended. Those toxic chemicals don't do you any good, either.
Recycle. Reusing items you no longer want not only keeps waste out of the landfill, it also reduces the environmental costs of making new ones.
Participate in your community's and/or workplace's recycling program.
Donate your stuff to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Vietnam Veterans of America or local charity of your choice.
Sell your stuff at a garage sale, on Craigslist or Ebay.
Have a clothing swap party with friends, neighbors or co-workers. It's a great way to refresh your wardrobe for free!
Check out online item exchange communities like Freecycle.
Want to know more? Attend an Earth Day festival near you, enjoy earth friendly food, art, music and shopping, and get educated while you have fun!