Earth Day was first celebrated 45 years ago. This annual day to focus on the environment began the year following the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. There are multiple enjoyable ways to recognize and learn about ways to help maintain and improve our environment. Here are some fun Earth Day activities so you can get involved on April 22nd.
Visit a National Park
The US has a huge number of national parks, and National Park Week is always celebrated the week of Earth Day. From April 16 through April 24, 2016, you can enjoy free admission to any national park.
On Earth Day, the national parks also host volunteer opportunities if you wish to be a bit more involved.
Go for a Ride
Take a break from driving solo and carpool to work, meetups, etc. You’ll help reduce vehicle emissions and also get a break from being behind the wheel.
Many cities have a public bicycle rental system that is low cost. Burn off that Frappuccino by grabbing one of these bikes and riding to school, work, and to your Earth Day activities. Check out your local paper, too. Often there will be special food and drink stops along the bike paths on this day to help encourage people to bike more. Free food sure helps motivate me.
Book Parking in Advance
As much as people enjoy bicycling and walking, it isn’t always practical to leave the car at home. You may be wondering how booking parking in advance can be help the environment.
Parking spots can fill up fast, and you can spend a lot of extra time driving around trying to find a place with open spaces. This adds a lot of extra pollution and increases your use of fossil fuels, one of the main culprits of climate change.
Parking expert Donald Shoup did a study looking at how searching for parking can affect the environment. “Over a year, searching for parking in Westwood Village creates 950,000 excess VMT (vehicle miles of travel)—equivalent to 38 trips around the earth or four trips to the moon. . . [It wastes about] 47,000 gallons of gasoline and produces 730 tons of CO2 emissions in a small business district.”
By prebooking your parking, you can greatly reduce gasoline consumption, driving time, and the extra amount of pollution your car contributes. And it will help lower your blood pressure, too.
Plant a Tree
This is one of the more popular Earth Day activities. Trees not only help beautify parks, common areas, and our neighborhoods, but they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, something we kind of need. Since CO2 is considered to be one of the major culprits behind climate change, reducing that atmospheric gas is very helpful.
This is also a great family activity. The kids can help out, get dirty, and they get to see the tree grow over their life.
If you don’t have a place to plant a tree, you can beautify your surroundings with flowers, either potted or planted. Almost every city has a tree planting event at a local park as well. It’s pretty easy and fun to get involved even if you have limited space at your home.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Aside from the national parks, many communities have a botanical garden. These are often very relaxing and beautiful, and you just may get some ideas to use at home. They’re also an easier activity than bicycling or hiking for those who don’t enjoy breaking a sweat. And coffee or tea always taste better beneath the shade of a beautiful tree. I’m pretty sure that’s a scientific fact.
Have a Special Earth Day Party
Earth Day is on a Friday this year, and I’m always game for any reason to throw a party. To help with the theme, ask that people use alternative methods of transportation or carpool to get there. For the food and drinks, use local products (nothing imported from another country and preferably from within 50-100 miles) from sustainable farms, breweries, etc. If you have a local farmer’s market, that is a great place to source your ingredients.
If the weather is nice, consider having your party at a local park, lake, etc. It’s hard not to be aware of the environment when you’re surrounded by trees, birdsong, and flowers.
What fun Earth Day activities will you be participating in this year?