50 Ways to Celebrate 50 Years of Earth Day

Posted by Office of Sustainability on Apr 20th 2020

50 Ways to Celebrate 50 Years of Earth Day


April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, a global celebration of our planet. Learning about environmental challenges and taking action to solve them has never been more relevant than it is today. Earth Day is about more than just planting trees or pledging to recycle paper. It’s about connecting with one another to improve the well-being of our planet and everyone who lives on it.

In the face of global climate change and global health crises, we can all work together to build stronger, more resilient communities. This April, we invite you to engage with our Earth and its inhabitants in whatever ways make sense for you and your family. To help you get started, we've assembled a list of 50 actions you can take in honor of the last 50 years of the environmental movement. Most of these activities can be done from the comfort and safety of your home. Thanks for taking action!

Remember to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus. Please refer to the latest guidance from the CDC before participating in the actions below. Take care and stay well.

1. Go for a walk. Being outside does not mean you have to be near other people; it can be a alone or limited to immediate family only.

2. Since parks are closed, you can virtually explore at least 32 National Parks from the comfort of your home.

3. Go out for a bike ride. Biking is a great way to explore the outdoors while also practicing social distancing.

4. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Look for signs of spring (flowers, animals, insects) and take pictures of them with your phone.

5. Become a citizen scientist by using the iNaturalist app to log your photos and observations of the natural world. You can also participate in Bumble Bee Watch, Frog Watch, or Budburst.

6. Take up birdwatching in your neighborhood or backyard. You can familiarize yourself with the calls of local birds and listen for their songs.

7. Start a garden. If you can't do it outside, there are a number of herbs that will flourish indoors. Try growing basil, mint, or thyme from your windowsill.

8. Enjoy some fresh air by stepping outside or opening a window. Studies have shown that short breaks outside have a wide variety of benefits, such as better focus and improved health.

9. If you’re inside, try to let in as much natural light as possible.

10. Move your body in a way that feels good. Feel energized and refreshed by walking, streaming an online fitness class, or simply stretching for a few minutes.

11. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Carry around a water bottle as a reminder; just be sure to avoid using single-use plastic ones. CLICK HERE to Shop Local & Shop Responsible with our reusable drink-ware.

12. Try your hand at making a simple non-toxic cleaning spray for your home or office or shop local with Red Panda's Sanitizing Spray.

13. Take a moment to thank yourself for taking a look at these actions and thinking about ways that you can help your community and our planet. You’re awesome!

14. Feeling stressed? Take a moment to pause. Try a breathing exercise to help clear your mind and center yourself.

15. Create a meal plan for at least one meal per day for a week. Meal planning can help minimize food waste and decrease the number of trips you take to the grocery store.

16. Learn how to mend your clothes with this handy how-to guide or buy sustainably with line like Billabong's New 'Tomorrow' Collection.

17. Audit your plastic waste for a week. Before recycling or throwing them away, take photos of the plastic items you’ve used in your home. (This will help you participate in Action 18.) Try using My Plastic Footprint to help.

18. Once you’re aware of the plastic waste you generate every week, explore ways to break up with plastic for good. Island Water Sports has great reusable items from Corkcicle, Yeti, and Hydro Flask.

19. Give unwanted, old, or broken household items a second life with these upcycling projects.

20. Make a vegetable broth using vegetable scraps from your kitchen or reduce springtime food waste in other creative ways: try carrot-top pesto, candied orange peels, or cauliflower stem dip.

21. Get inspired to adopt a zero- or low-waste lifestyle by watching this video from Exploring Alternatives.

22. Pledge to purchase paper goods that have been sustainably sourced (e.g. products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council). Home tissue products are a good place to start.

23. Reduce your showering time by 5 minutes or more. You could save more than 4,500 gallons of water annually.

24. Turn off lights when you leave a room and unplug appliances and electronics that are not in use to prevent energy vampires.

25. Wash your clothes in cold water to save energy and extend the life of your clothes. (Bonus: save even more energy by hanging your clothes to dry.)

26. Try to regrow your own food from kitchen scraps.

27. Go meatless for a meal. Reducing your meat consumption, even for one day a week, can have a positive impact. Try out these easy vegetarian recipes.

28. Ever feel overwhelmed by junk mail? Take 15 minutes to stop junk mail for good and prevent clutter and paper use in the process.

29. Calculate your personal carbon footprint with The Nature Conservancy.

30. Kids at home! Crisis schooling is tough. Take a break, give them some headphone and dial into one of local STEAM education organization, Surf Skate Science's FREE Online Live Sessions with Marine Scientists. Register at Facebook.com/SurfSkateScience/events

31. Tune into an episode of Global Weirding, a YouTube series for children and adults by climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe.

32. Explore activities, games, and videos from NASA Climate Kids with younger members of your family, or take a virtual tour of the Natural History Museum.

33. Watch an environmental film or documentary. The DC Environmental Film Festival is a good place to find recommendations; some of their 2020 films are currently streaming online.

34. Listen to a podcast about the environment or climate change.

35. Engage in an interactive Earth Day activity with a child in your life.

36. Participate in a digital strike for climate change with your friends via social media.

37. Connect with friends, family, and neighbors while practicing social distancing. Write a letter, make a phone call, schedule a video chat, or send a text to stay in touch.

38. Create a "climate action" chat group with your friends, family members, or coworkers to share tips and find accountability buddies for the actions you’re taking.

39. Support a food bank, small business, or mutual aid network in your community. Here are a few suggestions for the DC area.

40. Utilize your local library. With a library card, you can access DC Public Library’s database of more than 15 million free videos, eBooks, music, and more.

41. Research climate issues or climate solutions in your local area and share what you find with others via social media, email, or in-person conversations.

42. On April 7, participate in a Solve Climate by 2030 webinar on food resilience in the DC region, hosted by George Washington University.

43. Register to vote. Showing up at the polls is the best way to help ensure that your community is represented by leaders who will act on climate change.

44. Write a letter or email to your elected officials about the issues you care about.

45. Read a basic explanation of environmental and climate justice.

46. Acknowledge how climate change will disproportionately impact low-income communities, communities of color, persons with disabilities, children, and women.

47. Sign up to receive newsletters and action alerts from an advocacy or nonprofit organization working on environmental issues that you care about.

48. Switch to 100% renewable electricity for your home or apartment.

49. Have a conversation with someone about the environment. This may be one of the most important things you can do to combat climate change.

50. On April 22, participate in the largest digital Earth Day in history.

Share on Social Media

Tell us how you're taking action! Throughout the month of April, post photos and videos showing how you're participating in the 50 Actions. Be sure to use #50Actions50Years and tag your university's sustainability accounts.

April 22, 2020 — Cheyne Cottrell