View from the Kachina Trail Flagstaff

Celebrating Earth Day Virtually in 2020

It’s Earth Day today. April 22nd, 2020. The 50th Earth Day celebrated our planet. But today we are celebrating virtually. Which in a way, is better for the planet.

By staying home, not driving or flying as much, we help clean the air. Personally, I can smell and see it in my own backyard. Living in a major metropolitan area, our air is usually so polluted, the nearby mountains are always in a haze, the air smells of gasoline, and it has that metallic taste to it those who live in major cities know too well. This year, as I go outside, the air smells fresh. I look out and I can see the mountains clearly. The flowers look brighter. The birds sound louder (they are not competing with the constant hum of “civilization”, most notably the highway noise.

This year, inadvertently, we celebrate Earth Day as it should be: by stopping at least a good part of the pollution we are causing. Seismologists can actually hear the hum of the Earth, feel the underground movement of our planet as fewer cars and trucks are on the roads.

All this happened without most of us putting in an effort, as a byproduct of trying to fight a worldwide pandemic. But there is much more we can do to help our planet, to help ourselves.

Earth Day 2020

For the past 50 years Earth Day is celebrated by clean-ups, tree-planting, protests, lectures, and all sorts of events. This year, we can’t get together for group events. Instead, we can celebrate virtually with online lectures, virtual tours and digital protests.

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is Climate Action. It is the most pressing problem we face at this time, and although we need to act each and every day, in however small ways to prevent a climate catastrophe, today is the day of awareness, a day we all ned to reflect upon how we can help prevent or at least slow down global temperatures and sea levels rising, the cause of droughts and extreme weather, collapse of ecosystems, species disappearing…

Besides doing our own to live as sustainably as possible, there are a few other things we can do this Earth Day and the following days and weeks.

Participate in Online Events

This year, you can find a large number of online events honoring Earth Day and offering different ways to celebrate virtually, and hosting virtual Part Day events.

Learn About and Support the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals address the challenges we face in the world, and offer a blueprint of moving forward in a sustainable manner. While most of the time I tend to focus on reducing plastic waste and the environment, and tend to forget that practicing these principles might be harder for some communities.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals address all the problems that we face, including poverty, hunger, health care, education, gender equality, clean water, energy efficiency, including clean and affordable energy sources, sustainable economic growth and jobs for everyone, reducing inequalities among people, and industry innovations. It also addresses more immediate actions like sustainable cities, where most people walk, bike, or use public transport, reducing waste and recycling, keeping the oceans clean by eliminating plastic bags, and planting trees. Stopping global warming by cutting down on emissions, standing up for human rights, and a global partnership for sustainable development are all goals you can learn about here and support.

Find Virtual Events To Participate in on Earth Day’s Website

The official Earth Day’s Website is a great resource to learn about Earth Day, its history and goals and participate in virtual events they are hosting all day long.

Earthrise is one of the events they are hosting. It is actually a three-day event, starting today, April 22nd and ending on Friday, the 24th.

Check Out the Earthfest from Home on the American Natural History Museum’s Site

The American Natural History Museum has set up an Earthfest from Home page where they host watch parties, virtual events and quizzes spanning the whole day.

Attend Earthx2020 Virtual Events

Partnering with National Geographic, Earthx2020 is hosting online events the whole week, including virtual conferences, film events, community events and speaker series. Check it out and participate in as many or as few events as you can.

Check Out NASA’s Earth Day 50th

NASA is celebrating the 50th Earth Day offering an online toolkit for visual learning, including educational tools for home learning, Earth Day posters, youtube videos, e-books, and much more.

Things To Do At Home Every Day To Celebrate Earth Day

In past years you could go out ad join groups of people cleaning up beaches, or city parks, planting trees or participate in other organized events. Though online activities are replacing these, we still have some of the same things we can do to help from our own home.

Stay Home

The least we can do now, both for the earth and our health, is to stay home, preventing the spread of a virus, and letting our earth take a break from pollution caused by cars, trucks, airplanes, and cruise-ships.

Make Reusable Shopping Bags

Other things we can – always – do, is stop using plastic bags. Take the time to make more reusable grocery bags while at home. You can sew, knit or crochet plenty of bags you can use later, when you go shopping.

Eliminate Unnecessary Household Chemical Cleaners

The chemical cleaners in your home are far from healthy not only for the environment, but for your own health. Instead, make your own household cleaners, using simple ingredients like baking soda and vinegar. Add a few drops of essential oils for extra antiviral and antibacterial properties. Tea tree oil, lavender and all citrus based essential oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can find a recipe online, just make sure you find one from a trusted site.

Make Your Own (or Buy) Reusable Cotton Dishcloths and Washcloths

Replace the commercially available throw-away sponges with home-made, knit or crochet all-cotton dishcloths and washcloths. You can learn to knit or crochet (easy enough when you have the time, and it gives you something to do during quarantine), and make your own, or invest in some made by others. You can find plenty of patterns or ready-made ones online. Make sure its 100% cotton for best results.

Air Dry Your Clothes When Possible

Instead of using a dryer every time you need to wash your cloth, air dry them when possible. You save electricity, and your clothes will last longer.

Plant Native Flowers and Trees in Your Garden

If you have a garden, or even a small backyard, plant native wild flowers, shrubs and trees. Native vegetation attracts local wildlife, at least birds you can enjoy in your yard.

Eat Less Meat

You could go vegetarian, but I realize that not everyone can. But we can all cut down on your meat, and especially beef, consumption. Try going meatless at least one day a week. While in our household we are not all vegetarians, we eat chicken maybe once every two weeks, and fish a few times a week, but haven’t had beef or pork for months. Also, when you buy your meat, make sure it is from a local farm if possible. It will be healthier (fresher) and it has less impact on the environment.

Grow Your Own Vegetables – or Fruits

If you live in an area where it is possible, and you have a yard, try to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Not only will you eat healthier, using fresh ingredients, and save on your grocery bill, but help the environment by buying less produce shipped to your location.

Don’t Buy Bottled Water

If you live in an area where tap water is not the best to drink, invest in a water purifier instead of buying water packaged in plastic containers. At this point, I wish they didn’t sell plastic bottles of water, but until that changes, we, individuals, can choose not to buy it. And by not buying it we will slowly eliminate it – after all, if they can’t sell it they will need to stop making it, right?

Reuse and Recycle

When you can, try to reuse containers, glass jars, old clothes, or anything you can think of. Use your imagination, or find ideas on Pinterest. And make sure you recycle what is possible, if you can’t reuse it. And, if you have reusable things you don’t want or need, donate them. Old clothes, furniture, small appliances, anything you no longer want, but is still usable, you can donate to Goodwill or a shelter in town.

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

Don’t stop celebrating once Earth Day is over. Be aware of you everyday choices, celebrate and honor earth every day. On your future road trips, and other travels, or at home, use common sense and try to have a positive impact on our environment. Or at least keep the negative to a minimum.

Please let me know if you have other ideas to celebrate Earth Day every day.

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