The Earth has been a gracious and welcoming host to all kinds of life forms, including the human race, for what is now believed to be roughly 300 thousand years.
However, since that time, we haven’t exactly been grateful guests. Climate change, in combination with the human race being responsible for the extinction of several animals species, and the pollution of our air and sea, means we have a bit of making up to do.
Earth Day is a time to not only show our appreciation for the planet that has so graciously cared for us for so long, but also to show that we’re serious about righting the wrongs of the past (and present).
When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
When is Earth Day?
According to Wikipedia:
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
So, the question is: how will you show your appreciation this Earth Day?
By now, everyone and their dog has heard of planting a tree as a fitting way to celebrate Earth Day. But how else can you celebrate this important day?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Commit to travel in a more environmentally friendly way
One of the most important things you can do for Earth Day is to commit to start commuting either entirely or partly through an environmentally friendly transportation method such as walking, biking, or public transportation.
Really, anything you can do that isn’t a one-off but rather a habit you can adopt is most powerful as far as making a positive impact on the environment.
2. Volunteer your time to local or global organizations
Earth Day is global, so there are countless events happening all around the world and in your local community that you can jump on to celebrate the day in a creative way.
Take a moment to check what your local organizations have planned and see if there’s anything that interests you.
3. Take some time to educate yourself
While not a direct action, using part of your Earth Day to educate yourself on a variety of topics can be a powerful way to spend Earth Day. That’s because we first need to understand clearly what the problems are with the environment before we can properly help out.
Also, the time you take to educate yourself will allow you help throughout the rest of your life, so it has a powerful residual effect.
4. Join a local group or organization
Another great example of how you can contribute in a more long-term way is by joining a group.
You can always look for a local group and see what events they have planned, like we talked about a few points ago, but you can also take it a step further and join a group that will allow you to make regular contributions throughout the year.
Most Earth Day events have to do with cleaning up the planet (for good reason). However, if you want to take it a different direction, why not help our little animal friends?
By placing a bird feeder, water, or nuts in your backyard, you can make life a little easier for the little creatures in your neighborhood, whether that be birds, squirrels, or something else altogether. Although, maybe this is not a good idea if there are bears around…
6. Clean up household leaks
How about a super simple way you can not only help the planet, but also do a little home improvement all at the same time? If that sounds agreeable, it’s time to get out your wrench or hire a plumber.
Household leaks account for a huge amount of water waste each year. So, if you have any faucet, shower heads, or hoses that leak regularly, fixing them up can make a big difference — and you’ll be productive at the same time.
7. Switch from bottled water to a filter (or just recycle!)
Plastic has been collecting throughout oceans across the planet for decades. In fact, one trash heap is so big it’s twice the size of Texas.
While only a part of the problem, household plastic items such as water bottles are one of the biggest ways we, as regular citizens, play a part in this country-sized litter issue. Some of the easiest ways to reduce plastic waste are either recycling or avoiding plastic as much as possible. Easy fix: Switch from water bottles to a filter.
Just as important as taking action now, we need to teach the next generation the importance of taking care of the Earth. So, if you have kids or work with kids, why not use Earth Day to teach them more about the environment?
The cool part about this is that you can select an activity that allows them to learn through action, such as picking up waste on a local beach or any of the activities we’ve mentioned thus far, thereby not only teaching the next generation, but also making a difference in the process.
9. Get others involved with a pledge board
Already have something planned for yourself? Want to do more? One of the best ways is to get others involved. To do that, start a pledge board at your workplace.
A pledge board is simply a board– whether on the fridge in your break room or another central location– with some post-it notes where people can write what they have planned for Earth Day.
Those that put a note up are “pledging,” so there’s a sort of socially-motivated encouragement to follow through on what they’ve pledged.
10. Make the switch to digital receipts and bills
Looking for something small but meaningful you can do? Make the switch from paper receipts, bills, and other paper forms and copies to digital.
Most ATMs now offer the option of sending you a digital receipt for cash withdrawals. In addition, you can sign up for paperless billing. Also, look to see what other mail you receive on a regular basis and see if you can go digital with any of that as well.
My wife and I donate frequently, so we’re constantly bombarded by mail asking for donations. If you encounter the same, give these companies a call and just request to be sent email updates (if you aren’t already). Over a full year, this can save a whole lot more than just a single tree.