Happy Earth Day! Today marks 50 brilliant years of a national holiday that gave a voice to the environment and continues to encourage us all to take steps in protecting and conserving our planet’s natural resources and wild beauty.
Despite stay-at-home directives and living in the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 this year, there are still a variety of ways you can celebrate Earth Day safely at home and outside with these eight ideas:
1. Be a Virtual Ambassador
Post a picture from your favorite park on social media and say why you love it! Sharing outdoor spaces with friends and family can inspire them to explore the natural world and discover the beauty that is out there.
As more people experience and enjoy the great outdoors, the bigger the community becomes in caring for the environment and raising awareness to protect it.
Share your photos with us! Tag @threeriversparks on Instagram or Facebook and use hashtag #EarthDay.
2. Read a Nature Book
Learn a little more about the natural world and environmental stewardship with a good book. My favorites include:
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
- How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montogmery
- Anything by Mary Oliver
Also check out the 14 Best Nature Books according to Magers and Quinn. Choose from books about pollinators, weather, winter survival and more, and get reading today!
3. Try Birdwatching
Birds are gorgeous, intelligent creatures and really fun to see in the wild (or from your windows at home!) It always feels like an extra-special hike if I’ve seen an eagle or two or a flock of chatty crows on trail. And now that I’ve been spending most of my time inside at home, I’ve been admiring the plump orange bellies of robins in the front yard and watching mischievous blue jays taunt gray squirrels.
No matter where you are, look up at the sky and watch the birds around you. Use a birding checklist as a guide and keep track of what you see. How many different birds do you notice? What are they doing? Do you hear different bird calls and songs?
Getting to know a little bit more about the outside world around you increases awareness and deepens your understanding of what happens in the natural world every day.
4. Plant a Garden
Get close to the earth this spring and dig in the dirt!
Despite having worked in the horticulture and landscaping business years ago, I’ve never actually planted my own garden, so I’m going for it this year! I can’t think of a better way to show some love to the Earth, and I figured it’d be a great way to still get outside and practice good social distancing.
New to gardening? See this beginner’s guide and learn gardening basics from staff at Gale Woods Farm. You’ll be enjoying your own produce in no time!
5. Explore Your Own Backyard
This is a great way to celebrate Earth Day all year long. Take a walk through your yard or in your neighborhood and notice nature as the seasons change around you. Look for swelling buds on trees and busy wildlife scavenging for food. Listen for happy birds whistling through the neighborhood and frogs croaking in nearby ponds.
Tip: Keep track of your seasonal notes in a journal and write down what you see, smell and hear on your backyard adventure. Did you find any wildflowers? How about snakes slithering about? Did you see any insects?
6. Participate in Citizen Science
Citizen science is voluntary participation in scientific research that offers the opportunity to collaborate with professional scientists by collecting data from the natural world. This is an excellent way to contribute to a greater cause and celebrate Earth!
From monitoring bird nests to listening for frog and toad calls, there are a variety of ways you can contribute to science, including:
Explore a database of citizen science projects and find something that sparks your interest!
7. Practice Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics and best practices that promote conservation and help reduce human impact on the outside world.
Some of these best practices to remember when exploring your own neighborhood, visiting a park or enjoying a trail include:
- Plan ahead and prepare – Proper planning helps you enjoy park visits safely and minimizes resource damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces – The goal of adventuring in the outdoors is to move through natural areas while avoiding damage to land and waterways. Stay on designated trails.
- Dispose of waste properly – Always dispose of trash and recyclables properly and pick up after your pet.
- Leave what you find – Leave rocks, leaves, twigs and other natural objects where you see them. Take only photos, leave only footprints.
- Respect wildlife – Observe wildlife from a safe distance and travel quietly on trails.
- Be considerate of other visitors – Remember to use proper trail etiquette, keep six feet of distance between yourself and others, and refrain from gathering at entrances and in parking lots.
8. Pick Up Trash on a Walk or Hike
Clean up your favorite trail or neighborhood on a walk! Pick up trash safely with the following guidelines:
- Wear gloves.
- Reuse a disposable plastic bag to collect trash.
- Use a trash picker.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after removing your gloves.
- Disinfect your gloves and trash picker when you return home.
This Earth Day, discover what interests you and join a national effort to care for our planet — today and every day!