By Rose McAvoy
This week is framed by two wonderful days that remind us to be mindful citizens of the planet. When I think about Earth Day and Arbor Day I am inspired to find ways to protect and celebrate the wonders of the natural world.
Monday, April 22, is Earth Day, “an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year.” (see: Earth Day – Wikipedia)
Arbor Day is Friday, April 26. It “is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees … The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872, and an estimated 1 million trees were planted that day. Many countries now observe a similar holiday.” (see: Arbor Day – Wikipedia)
To help you feel inspired, here is a short list of ways celebrate these special days. Many of the activities are low or no cost and can be done with no advance planning, others will require a little more time and materials. As a bonus, most of these suggestions are just as healthy of your mind and body as they are for the Earth. Put one or more of these ideas into action this week or any time you feel like giving the Earth a hug.
5 Ways to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day – Any day!
Spend time in nature – Go explore the great outdoors in your area. Take a walk and look for birds, bugs, or four legged critters. Visit an arboretum, plant nursery, or garden center and learn which plants are native to your region. Take a walk and try to find some of those native plants in your own neighborhood or go make a day of it and for a hike in an area known to have many native plant species along the trail. For the kids: Turn your nature walk into a scavenger hunt. Give kids a list of things to find along the way, use images for younger explorers.
Further Reading: Native Plant Information Network (U of Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center), Washington Native Plant Society, 12 Nature Walk Crafts for Kids! (The Crafty Crow), Scavenger Hunts [for kids] (Love the Outdoors)
Plant something – Adding some living plants to a porch, patio, or garden is a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day. Plants can enhance or alter the atmosphere where they are growing. Bright and colorful flowers can lend a cheerful energy to a garden while luscious leafy specimens might evoke a sense of calm and peace. If you choose to plant fruits or vegetables, you can have the same benefits with the bonus of a healthy snack to reward your efforts.
Adopt a houseplant – Bring a little green into your home or office. Houseplants have a number of benefits for your home and health. Many plants do well indoors. Do not be put off by those that require more attention and need specific amounts of light and water. Many types of houseplants will thrive even if they are ignored most of the time. With so many varieties of indoor plants to choose from there is something for everyone.
Further reading: Plants you Can’t Kill – 7 Best Houseplants for Beginners (about.com), 21 Simple Ideas For Adorable DIY Terrariums (buzzfeed.com)
Tidy a public space – Give a neglected public space some TLC. Spend an hour or more picking up litter and generally making the space more pleasing to visit or pass through. Places that may need a little sprucing up: sidewalks, bus stops, beaches, or parks. Go prepared with work gloves, sturdy shoes, and several bags or containers to sort trash from recyclables. Dispose of the collected litter in an appropriate place. Make a day of it: Participate in, or organize, a community clean-up day. If organizing an event, ask your town or city to provide containers and pick up for the trash and recycling.
Further Reading: Organize a Neighborhood Clean Up (Hands On University)
Celebrate with food – Create a meal using ingredients grown or produced in your region. This can be easier in some places than in others so I’ll let you define “your region.” Ways to find local ingredients: Ask in your supermarket if they stock items from local sources or visit a farm or farmers market. If you live near water buy directly from the fishermen or bring home your own “catch of the day.”
- Recycle E-Waste
- Donate used items to be resold by a charity.
- Purchase used items from a thrift store or craigslist instead of purchasing new things.
- Repurpose glass and plastic containers.
- Source building and remodling materials from the Habitat from a Humanity ReStore.
- Swap incandescent bulbs for LED or fluorescent &recycle old fluorescent bulbs.