Earth Day was born in 1970, to help Americans to understand that taking care of the environment was not just a fad invented by the hippie culture. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day, and it is now celebrated by nearly 200 countries. It’s easy to join in, and your efforts, no matter how small, make a difference.
Head to the Park. It just so happens that Earth Day is in the middle of National Park Week. That means that from April 20 to 28, parks will host a variety of events and activities. All entrance fees are waived on Saturday, April 20. We suggest you call ahead to make sure your destination park is participating – and dress appropriately for the April weather.
Clean up. Adopt the road or street in front of your house and pick up litter. Call your city hall and ask about organizing a clean up of your local park or downtown area. Recycle aluminum cans, or separate recyclable items. Create your own community version of Vermont’s Green Up Day and make your piece of the world a little healthier.
Change your containers. Take a look at your kitchen cupboards. Can you buy some often-used products in bulk instead of purchasing smaller packages that will eventually go to the landfill? Buy local and take your own container – have the container weighed and marked at customer service or at the cheese or deli counter, and the checkout clerk will take off the weight of the container. A glass jar can be used for anything from milk to honey at a local coop, and reusable grocery bags are welcomed at farmer’s markets.
Give it up for the cause. Donate used items to a resource center instead of taking them to the landfill. ReStores works with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes and help others have better lives. The Deconstruction and ReUse Network focuses on taking apart and reusing building items to use in other projects. TimeBanks USA uses hours as currency to improve lives and build community. A Community Thrives, or ACT is a part of the USA Today Network, and helps shine a light on and support community. Freecycle.org is a network that allows members to give items for free instead of sending to the landfill.
Bring your own cup. Most coffee shops and places with fountain drink machines allow you to fill or refill a personal reusable cup. Keep an extra clean reusable cup in your car for those times you forget. Think about all that paper or (shudder) styrofoam you toss every week – you can stop a garbage bag of waste going to a landfill simply by carrying a reusable cup.
Bail the straw. Like sipping through straws? More than 500 million plastic straws are used and tossed every day in the United States, littering landfills and finding their way into our waterways and oceans. Consider going straw-free. Cities including Miami Beach, Seattle and Malibu have implemented a ban on plastic drinking straws to combat the problem. Get a reusable stainless steel, bamboo, or glass straw with a carrying case if you prefer to sip. Ask your local restaurants if they will consider going straw-free for Earth Day.
Invest in a water bottle. Plastic water bottles can be replaced with a reusable bottle and a water filter, and will help reduce the tons of bottle waste every year. Contact your local government office for information on available recycling programs. Calculate your own plastic use here.
Turn off. Use Smart Strips for electronics and reduce the amount of “trickle” energy usage. We all know that lights should be turned off when we leave the room, but how about unplugging other appliances, like coffee makers, toasters or radios? Try designating Earth Day as a day without television or video games. Leave your car in the driveway and never idle the motor while waiting – it wastes more gas and money than restarting the car. Brush up on your biking skills – or take out those ’70s roller skates for a roll down the boardwalk.
Dress for Mother Earth. Share clothing or shop thrift shops for items to add to your wardrobe. Take the initiative and start a clothing swap of your own in your neighborhood or among family members. Choose clothing made from earth-friendly materials instead of micro-fiber or other synthetic fibers. Use planet-friendly hair ties, or wear clothing from eco-conscious companies such as these.
Leave the take-home box behind. You know you aren’t going to finish your restaurant meal – you always ask for a take-home box. So why not bring a covered reheatable dish from home, and avoid the waste?
Learn and grow. Find a class to learn more about the planet. The Farm Bureau offers master gardening or urban forestry classes in almost every state. The Smiling Gardener’s free course will help you grow your own food. Take other free online sustainability courses here.
Read out loud. As the Lorax said in Dr. Seuss’ book of the same name, “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. … Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Reading books can help children learn about the earth and the importance of our stewardship. Reading for the Earth™ is a nationwide program for grades K-8 that promotes reading of environmentally themed books during the month of April. Read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring; published in 1962, the book helped raise awareness about the plight of the planet.
Get a free deal on the day.
We’ll keep adding to this list, so check back for deals at restaurants and other businesses that want to share in the celebration:
BurgerFi: Burger Fi is already eliminating plastic straws and sourcing biodegradable cups, which translates to more than 8 million straws and cups or 100,000 pounds of plastic. On April 22, participating BurgerFi locations will offer $5 VegeFi Burgers and $5 Beyond Burgers. Free tomato seeds will be given out with any purchase on Earth Day.
EVOS: Get a free organic milkshake on Monday April 22 in honor of Earth Day at EVOS. Call your local EVOS store for details.
Buffalo Exchange: On Saturday April 20, participating stores will hold a $1 sale of select items. Sales will benefit The Humane Society of the United States and their efforts to rescue animals from natural disasters and abusive conditions. The sale is cash only. Sale starts at normal opening hours and ends when supplies run out.
Natural Grocers: Receive a free reusable ladybug bag with purchase. Stores will have special pricing on select in-store items, as well as prizes throughout the day.
Pilot J : Sign up for the app and get a buy-one-get-one free deal for Pilot Flying J’s new breakfast burritos. The burritos are made in-house, with several flavors, and accompanied by a traditional creamy red salsa. This offer will be available first on Earth Day, April 22, and continues through April 28.
Staples: Rewards members can recycle tech for free in stores from April 16 through April 26 and receive a $10 coupon.
Target: From April 22 to May 4, Target stores will take and recycle your car seats that are expired or damaged. Materials from the old car seats will be recycled by a Target partner, Waste Management. You will receive a 20% off coupon toward a new car seat, car seat base, travel system, stroller or select baby equipment.
Whole Foods: Whole Foods will offer deals for the entire week – visit your local Whole Foods store for deals.
Make sure to check out your local Living on the Cheap network site for deals in your area.
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