We’ve been thinking about this question all week: How do you celebrate Earth Day at home in our time of social distancing?
Our week-long celebration of National Park Week continues today as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with the National Park Service and our friends at the National Park Creative Exchange. It’s so important for us to mark the anniversary of our collective care of the planet as we collectively care for each other. So in honor of this special day, we curated a special list of 30 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day at Home.
Choose one. Choose twenty-one. Choose whatever helps you mark the anniversary of our efforts to care for the home we all share.
50 Years of Earth Day
Before we share our list of 30 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day at Home, we wanted to share this terrific essay from our friends at Gaze at the National Parks on the history of Earth Day and where we’ve come from:
Where would we be without our beautiful, fragile planet? Earth Day, which started in 1970, aimed to make sure we never had to answer that question. With rampant pollution and lack of oversight, the modern environmental movement needed a voice to propel it forward. That voice came by way of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring. The book made the public aware of the inexorable damage of pollution and the fragile ecosystems which we all live in.
Spurred to action, politicians across the aisle worked on legislation to stem these horrible abuses to the environment. From the time of its launch in 1970 through the years end, Earth Day spawned the Environmental Protection Agency along with the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. The Clean Water and Endangered Species Act followed suit in subsequent years. But it didn’t stop there, Earth Day itself became global in 1990, pushing the issues of the environment beyond the borders of the United States.
How can we celebrate Earth Day and continue to defend our fragile ecosystems, both in the National Parks and in our everyday lives? The National Parks Creative Exchange has created this logo to help recognize the importance of Earth Day every day. From the highest peaks to the deepest caves to the bluest waters and the driest deserts, we need to care for this place we call home.
Along with posting the logo to our social media pages, check out our list of ways you can celebrate Earth Day from home this year:
30 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day At Home
Celebrate Earth Day In Your Neighborhood
1. Move your body outdoors.
The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to get outside today. Run. Walk. Do yoga on the balcony. Move your body for at least 30 minutes today around your neighborhood. Even if we need to practice social distancing, we can still find ways to enjoy the outdoors.
2. Conduct a neighborhood trash clean up.
Thousands of volunteers planned to celebrate Earth Day this year with trash and invasive species clean ups. Even though many of these events have been canceled, it’s still okay to spend a few minutes beautifying your immediate neighborhood. Grab a mask and a pair of gloves and pick up the trash around your neighborhood.
3. Become a citizen scientist.
The National Park Service and other government agencies continue to need volunteer support during this time to continue collecting and analyzing scientific data. Citizen scientists sign up to collect data in their own neighborhood or in a national park. These data funnel up into larger projects on biodiversity, climate change, and cultural heritage.
To find a citizen scientist project near you visit the NPS Citizen Science website.
4. Run an Earth Day Online Race.
We at the Park Chasers were scheduled to run our first community organized 5K of the year for Earth Day last weekend. Even though the race was cancelled, we are still finding ways to log our miles online in support of Earth Day organizations.
5. Share your stuff vs. throwing it away
We know many of you are using your extra time at home (and the need for stress relief!) to clean out closets and organize. Instead of throwing away clothes, furniture and housewares, use the extra time you have to share or donate. In the time of social distancing, it’s still okay to use neighborhood share sites and Facebook to help others in need by offering some of your gently used items.
6. Plant something.
Celebrate Earth Day by greening the planet. Use the extra time to research community gardening in your neighborhood, plant a container garden, or plant a tree.
Live in the city where it’s more difficult to find green space for growing? The Arbor Day Foundation collects donations to plant trees all over the planet.
7. Create public art.
One of the best ways we know to celebrate Earth Day from home is to create something to commemorate the planet we live on. Make art that showcases what you enjoy most about being a resident on Earth. Share some art with your neighbors with sidewalk chalk. Post a Facebook or Instagram photo of your favorite landscape. Paint or draw outdoors for your neighbors to enjoy while passing.
There’s no better time than right now to explore the birds that call your neighborhood home. The National Audubon Society has created “stay-at-home” birding guides and special activities for families. Sign up for your local birding email guide and spend Earth Day trying to check off as many as you can spot out the window.
9. Print an Earth Day window sign.
Let your neighbors know that you’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by printing and displaying one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Happy Earth Day” coloring sheets.
Celebrate Earth Day In Your Home
10. Measure your carbon footprint.
According to The Nature Conservancy, the average carbon footprint (the total amount of greenhouse gases generated by human activity) for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons.
When so many of our other habits are turned upside down, now is the time to learn about your carbon footprint and make changes to reduce carbon use as we return to work and school. Calculate your carbon footprint here: Carbon Footprint Calculator
11. Do a plastics audit.
Even though we’re all relying on single-use plastics for groceries and take-out right now, there are ways to still reduce our plastic usage during stay-at-home. The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California offers an online plastics audit (it’s a great learn-at-home activity for Grades 9-12!) to help you review your plastic usage and identify ways to reduce single-use plastics in your home. Commit this Earth Day to make changes in how you impact the planet.
12. Eat a plant-based meal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light some glaring dangers of our industrial food system. Not only does it fall short of reaching everyone in times of need, but our current food system is also one of the number one contributors to climate change. Commit to eating a plant-based meal on Earth Day and learn about how making at least one meal meat-free can make a difference for the planet.
13. Fix and Repair Before You Buy New
Of all the items on this checklist, we at Park Chasers could do a much better job with fixing and repairing before we upgrade to something new. We’re definitely guilty of avoiding the patch kit for our camping gear and using a repair as an excuse to head to REI. But during this pandemic time, we’re focusing on making repairs and fixes to things around our home that could use a little TLC. Rather than creating more waste and consumer excess, spend Earth Day with a DIY repair around your home.
Honestly. It’s 2020, people. If you’re not recycling now, you’d better start. Even Sesame Street can do it:
15. Switch to green power.
A few years ago we took the steps with our local utility company to offset our electricity usage with green energy. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that up to 50% of Americans have the option to purchase all or some of their electricity usage from green sources.
Use your time at home to contact your local utility office or Energy.gov to switch over to green energy.
16. Download the Earth Day App.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Earth Day Network, the U.S Department of State’s Eco-Capitals Forum, and The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars launched Earth Challenge 2020. It’s an app available on the iOS and Android marketplace designed to create the world’s most accessible and transparent climate science database portal ever created. Spend Earth Day logging your family’s contribution to the Earth Challenge and learning about ways you can protect the planet every day.
17. Camp indoors or in the backyard.
We may not be able to spend time in the national park campgrounds right now, but Earth Day is a terrific reason to get out your camping gear and spend the night in a tent. We set up our tent in the living room a few weeks ago, and think Earth Day is an excellent reason to camp at home.
18. Do a home energy audit.
If you’ve got some extra time at home right now, decide to do a home energy audit using the EPA’s ENERGY START Home Energy Yardstick. It offers comparable energy usage to other homes in your area and gives you tangible ideas on how you can save money and save the planet by reducing energy costs in your home.
Celebrate Earth Day From Your Computer
19. Read about the history of Earth Day.
The Harvard Gazette posted an outstanding interview and remembrance of the first Earth Day celebration 50 years ago and where we’ve come since then. Spend a few minutes today reading about the history of Earth Day and the future of our planet.
20. Attend a virtual event.
You’re home already anyway? Why not choose one of the hundreds of virtual Earth Day events happening around the globe this week. Earth Day Live has a complete list of virtual events happening to celebrate Earth Day this year.
21. Take a virtual tour of your favorite outdoor place.
We may not be able to travel much right now, but it’s still possible to visit some of our favorite outdoor places. In fact, there are more than 30 national parks that offer virtual tours of hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and visitor’s centers. Grand Canyon National Park offers virtual hiking tours and virtual rafting tours. See all the favorite destinations on a virtual tour of Yellowstone as well.
22. Share an Instagram or Facebook story
All week this week the National Park Creative Exchange is sharing content about National Park Week and Earth Day. Hop over to our Facebook page or Instagram feed today and share this checklist of 30 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day from Home.
23. Watch an Earth Day documentary.
Just in time for a stay-at-home Earth Day, several new documentaries are coming out on streaming services. Watch the powerful impact that climate change is having on our planet and find out about the individuals who continue to make a difference for our environment. Check out this list of
18 of the best nature documentaries to watch on Netflix, Disney+ and Prime for Earth Day 2020.
24. Have an Earth Day Hangout with Friends and Family
Do you have virtual meetings with friends, co-workers or family members planned for tomorrow? Spend a few minutes talking about Earth Day, this checklist, and how you’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary. Spread the word about protecting our planet while we’re staying home.
25. Choose Reading Over Streaming
Believe it or not, streaming can be one of the larger sources of energy usage in your home. Netflix’s global energy consumption increased by 84% in 2019 to a total of 451,000-megawatt hours. That’s enough to power 40,000 average US homes for a year! And that was before stay-at-home happened! Celebrate Earth Day be taking a break from the screen and grabbing your favorite national park book instead.
26. Tune into a webcam.
Need a virtual vacation on Earth Day? Check out one of the many webcams around the National Park Service. From mountain scenery to wildlife watching, you’ll find our favorites on our 11 Best National Park Webcams for A Virtual Get-Away.
Raise Your Voice
27. Do your homework.
Thousands of websites have sprung up for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Now is the time to do your homework and decide which environmental issues matter most to you. On the federal level, the National Park Service, the EPA, and many other government agencies created special documents and activities for Earth Day. At your local level, spend some time reading about current climate change activities and environmental issues.
28. Contact Your Legislators.
It wouldn’t be an Earth Day to-do list without recommending that you contact your local, state, and federal legislators. Research the issues that matter to you and then use USA.gov to find out how you can have your voice heard.
29. Register to Vote.
The best way to make sure your voice is heard when it comes to the environment is to vote. Use the extra time you have during stay-at-home to find out if you are registered to vote and complete the requirements. Be prepared to raise your voice for the planet at the polls.
There are hundreds of different organizations that work every day to ensure that our national parks and environment are protected. Celebrate Earth Day by making a donation to a national park-related organization. Give back so that the environment can continue giving to each and every one of us.