Graphic by Iliana Galvez, via EarthDay.org
Earth Day 2020 is upon us – and although this year’s 50th anniversary celebration has had to move predominantly online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are still a plethora of ways that we can demonstrate love for our unique, shared world.
First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is an annual event which seeks to promote advocacy, volunteering, and citizen science in support of the global environment by way of education and activities focusing on issues such as climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the rise of pollutants. This year, Earth Day organizers have shifted emphasis towards digital mobilizations.
So – with many of us staying home and keeping local to help protect our frontline medical professionals and to save lives, what things can we do to celebrate our amazing planet?
Here are 7 suggestions.
1 – Kick back with a good book about nature
Improve your environmental literacy and make the most of a cozy evening in by curling up with a good book about the natural world. While there are so many from which to choose, I highly recommend John Muir’s 1911 classic My First Summer in the Sierra if you’re looking for environmental writing that’s positively brimming with joyful wonder. It would be a fitting read this week too, seeing as yesterday marked what would have been the Scottish-American conservationist’s 182nd birthday! For more suggestions, check out my previous post: 5 Books About Nature and the Environment Worth Reading.
2 – Go for a mindful meander
Right now many of us are being asked to stay home in order to save lives, and it’s really important that we do so as much as possible. In the UK, all but the most vulnerable are however allowed to go out to retrieve food or medicine, as well as to do one bit of exercise close to home. See if you can make that walk-a-day into a more mindful meander, not just to honor the environment around you but also to help boost your own well-being. I’ve written a brief guide to help introduce you to the art of mindful walking, which you can read here.
3 – Become a backyard birder
Lots of environmental charities and similar organizations have been sharing bird identification resources with the public via their websites and social media since lockdown began, hoping to encourage people to gaze out their windows and go out into their gardens in search of these colorful, songful, winged wonders. National Audubon Society has produced a wonderful digital ‘birdy care package,’ as they’ve delightfully put it, for all to use and share. Featured within are dozens of photographs and video clips, as well as tips for those wanting to take up wildlife photography. Additionally, there’s a brilliant section called ‘Just Have a Laugh,’ where you can watch the amusing short video ‘Five Bird Calls That Will Make You Laugh’ and read the delightful cultural piece that is the article ‘When is a Bird a “Birb”? An Extremely Important Guide.’
4 – Grow some plant friends
We don’t all have front gardens and backyards, but we can still work wonders with window sills and shelving units! Whether you fill a window-box with native flowering plants to attract butterflies and bees or you start a salad patch in your garden, it’s all good. Speaking as the proud co-parent of two happy, healthy succulents, having plant friends around the house is a real delight.
If you’re looking for seeds native to the UK, check out London-based non-profit Seedball which makes a variety of wildflower tins and grab bags. They’re still rolling seedballs and sending out orders during lockdown, although there may be slight shipping delays.
5 – Have a backyard camp-out
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place with a bit of private green space out back, then why not have a camping mini-adventure this Earth Day? As an indoor alternative, you could channel your inner child and create a blanket-and-pillow fort instead! If you’ve got little ones and are currently homeschooling, you could use your at-home camping experience as an opportunity to introduce a bit about astronomy as well. The National Trust offers a few top tips for those looking to get started with stargazing, and recommends the Star Walk app as a good companion.
6 – Spring clean with eco-friendly products
In honor of Earth Day, why not do a bit of spring cleaning – whether that takes in the whole house or just one area that needs a bit of TLC – but with more eco-friendly products, if you can get them from your local grocery store at the moment. Every site you look at seems to have a dozen or so different recommendations for more eco-friendly cleaning products and everyone you talk to has a differing definition of what makes a product ‘eco-friendly,’ but a few brands like Ecover, Method, and Bio D pop up again and again in lists by news outlets such as The Independent, New York Magazine, and Evening Standard. Shared attributes of these products generally tend to be the use of 100% recyclable packaging, a focus on plant-based, ethically-sourced ingredients, and – for some brands, like Ecover – the ability to refill the same bottle over and over again at a variety of stockists.
For a few quick tips on how to help make your home even more eco-friendly, check out my earlier post here!
7 – Donate to an environmental charity
I’m a big fan of the UK charity Woodland Trust, but there are so many laudable environmental conservation charities around the world worth supporting – if you are able to at the moment. Whether its your local Wildlife Trust, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, or perhaps another similar organization of your choosing, a donation of any size, whether one-off or recurring, will be a significant help – and it’s a great way to show this Earth Day some love!