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Last updated on April 20th, 2024 at 02:22 pm

Are you curious about how to celebrate and get involved with Earth Day? Earth Day is an important step in many of our sustainability journeys. Global events highlight critical causes, eco-friendly actions we can take, educational resources, and in-person group events. However, I like to think of Earth Day as a reason to celebrate what makes our planet so incredible from the rich cultural and biological diversity while bringing awareness to some of the more concerning challenges we face. We often encounter changes we need to make, and those are important, but for today, let’s get into the spirit and celebrate in a sustainable and action-driven way!

Our planet is beautiful and giving. Every day of the year, we should bring attention to the causes that protect her, make behavioral changes, and advocate for her. Every day, we should honor the colorful biodiversity she offers. But, for at least one day, we come together worldwide to learn about Earth, honor our planet, find new ways to make daily changes to be more sustainable, make our voices heard, and celebrate Earth’s beauty.

Happy Earth Day, Everyone! Here are some of the best ways to celebrate!

Fun ways to celebrate earth day

Earth Day is every April 22. It is a day with dozens of protests, city-wide cleanups, lectures, and events. Since I wrote this post in 2020 (I updated it every year), Earth Day celebrations have looked slightly different. The pandemic brought many of these celebrations online. This post primarily focuses on ways to celebrate online or make a conscious effort to learn and change your behavior. Whether you are looking for a virtual or in-person protest, online lectures, event streams, ways to connect with nature, or virtual tours, I’ve got you covered with all the best ways to celebrate Earth Day. Gear up for days of online activities and events!

Earth Day 2024 Theme – Planet vs. Plastics

The theme for 2024 is Planet vs. Plastic. Plastic pollution is among the greatest environmental threats facing our and future generations. Our planet is quite literally choking on plastic, which is now found everywhere, from inside our bodies to the depths of the ocean and in the very air we breathe. My generation grew up with plastic everywhere. Our awareness of the plastic pollution crisis was marked with images of sea turtles with straws up their nose and soda rings around their necks. While these campaigns increased awareness and led to some declines in single-use plastics, the fact of the matter is this crisis is only getting worse. One million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the world, and about 400,000,000 tonnes of plastic are discarded annually. 

The Earth Day Network calls on students, parents, businesses, governments, community groups, individuals, and NGOs to commit to reducing plastic production by 60% by 2040. They aim to do this with public awareness, calling for more research regarding the health impacts, phasing out single-use plastics, policies targeting fast fashion, and investing in innovative technologies.

plastic pollution at the beach

The increasing amounts of plastic have serious environmental and health risks for us and our planet. Plastic waste kills animals, with more marine animals washing ashore with stomachs full of plastic. Plastic clogs rivers and marine systems, making it impossible for wildlife to thrive and these ecosystems to perform their critical functions in protecting us against flooding and extreme weather.

Plastic also comes with health concerns, including new research on the harms of microplastics in babies and increased lung disease in adults. Our critical water sources have become polluted.

Embrace and Learn About This Year’s Theme

The first thing you can do this year to celebrate Earth Day is embrace the theme: learn about plastic and take action against plastic pollution. The UN has created an excellent resource on the severity and situation of plastic pollution.

Coca-Cola is one of the largest producers of plastic. While they want you to believe they are taking action to recycle their bottles, all leading experts agree that we must focus on plastic reduction, not recycling, which is ineffective. Other leading industries in the plastic crisis are fast fashion and the cosmetic industry.

Two simple actions to take today are to stop drinking ALL Coca-Cola products, buy plastic-free cosmetics without plastic packaging and ingredients, and avoid fast fashion. 

beach pollution plastic

Whether at home or traveling, consider your relationship with plastic. This Earth Day, treat yourself to a reusable water bottle (unless you already have one, then the one you have will do just fine), a reusable coffee tumbler, and a set of reusable utensils so you have them ready to go when running errands or packing for your next trip.

Make a note of which food delivery places avoid single-use plastics and avoid ones that do. Next time you are at a cosmetic store looking for the plastic-free section!

Look at local ballot measures or government proposals in your community target plastic and get out to vote!

And for the love of everything, stop buying unnecessary fast fashion! Wear what you have, repair what is broken, and invest in quality pieces if you have the income to do so.

Head over and sign Greenpeace’s Global Plastic Free Treaty! 

How to Celebrate Earth Day

Today, I will focus on Earth Day-specific events or activities rather than lifestyle changes you should make daily, as I think plenty of those are circulating. I’ll start with ways to get in the mood for Earth Day, such as climate change music and podcasts, then I’ll get to the core of Earth Day with specific events for Earth Day 2024, and I’ll finish with additional action you can take to honor the Earth after the global event has ended.

Prepare and Get in the Mood for Earth Day

Listen to Climate-themed Themed Music 

If you’re like me, then the simple act of listening to music can invoke strong feelings. Harness this power to inspire you to take action and make changes. 

The Climate Music Project is a powerful source of climate change music. This project identified four key indicators of climate change, such as CO2 and temperature, and assigned them a musical analog. The results are sorrowful and powerful pieces of music that may bring a tear to your eye. Perhaps riding on those emotions, you’ll wake up the next morning ready to change the world. There is also music focusing on human drivers of climate change called Icarus in Flight; the results are intense and erratic and make you cringe at humans’ role in this climate crisis. 

Miracle by OceanLab is my all-time favorite climate change song. When this song came out in 2008, it was a pivotal moment for me and my environmental action. Take some time to listen to the lyrics. You’re missing out if you haven’t heard the entire OceanLab album Sirens of the Sea, but I digress. 

 It’s too easy to turn a blind eye to the light
It’s too easy to bow your head and pray
There are some times when you should try to find your voice
This is one voice that you must find today
Are you hoping for a miracle
As the ice caps melt away?
No use hoping for a miracle
There’s a price we’ll have to pay

For other ideas, type Climate Change into Spotify for a collection of climate change songs and artists, such as the Climate Change Jazz Fighters (coolest name for a band? I think so!). Their song names are things like Fridays for the Future

Earth Rise Studio has a nature playlist that features actual nature sounds. Streaming the tracks on this playlist help support conservation efforts for species and in ecosystems around the world!

 

Listen to Podcasts

If you are more of a podcast person, here are some suggestions for learning about climate and sustainability. There are dozens of great podcasts about climate change and the planet Earth.  I highly recommend Intersectional Environmentalist’s podcast called Dismantled. Other options are How to Save A Planet, Sustainable-ish, and Costing the Earth.

On Spotify, you’ll find Climate Change for BeginnersClimate Change Weekly, and A Sustainable Mind.

I was even a guest expert talking about tourism and biodiversity. Listen to my podcast here!

Check out Bustle’s round-up for more great podcasts.  

Watch Documentaries

One of my favorite things about getting Disney+ was their great environmental documentaries! Last year, they released Secrets of the Elephant for Earth Day. Before the Flood is also on Disney+ and is a powerful film about climate change worldwide with science-based perspectives. Disney+ makes it easy, categorizing all their documentaries and movies for Earth Day, so log in, binge-watch, and learn. 

Waterbear Network is a new platform that you can sign up for free. Its ethos is all about educational documentaries and films that connect us, the viewer, to a diverse Earth to drive change, a deeper understanding of global climate concerns, and how different people and cultures connect to nature. This should be your 2023 go-to for meaningful content consumption.

Netflix has Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral. Vimeo has the entire version of Ocean Mystery, The Missing Catch. PBS has Fierce Green Fire, which covers the history and power behind the environmental movement—perfect for Earth Day. 

Alaska brown bear viewing Lake Clark National Park chinitna bay

Read Dystopian Novels

Some people call me a pessimist; I call myself an aspiring dystopian novelist. My husband prefers to see the positive things we can have if we save our planet, but some sick part of me loves reading about all the horrific ways we can fuck up if we don’t take action. So, if you’re like me, downloading some good dystopian novels might be the perfect way to get you in the mood. Is there something wrong with me? Probably. But here are a few ideas to get you started. 

What are you doing with your life if you haven’t read Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy? I just finished Trail of Lighting and Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse, which provides a view of Indigenous revival after the U.S. experienced a massive flood. The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd talks about carbon rationing in extreme climate conditions. Calde by James Bradley follows several generations of one family as climate change worsens with time. Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta details water crimes and shortages that will change how you view provisional ecosystem services. 

Finally, Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson takes place in the future when climate change has all but destroyed us; it follows a geo-engineering attempt to solve this crisis. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi follows the thrilling story of when the Colorado River dries up and chaos descends.

Weissenau nature reserve bird watching

Read Educational Climate Books

If fictional dystopian novels aren’t your thing, try some educational climate action books to get you fired up and ready to take action. Humanities Moment by climate scientist Joëlle Gergis offers a digestible breakdown of the IPCC report, with many glimmers of hope. Fresh Banana Leaves by Jessica Hernandez highlights Indigenous perspectives on conservation and ecotourism on Indigenous Lands. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is an excellent read combining Indigneous knowledge and scientific research about plants in an approachable read. Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World by Katharine Hayhoe offers an uplifting message on coming together. Another favorite of mine is Field Notes From a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert. It is an eye-opening, grim read but a very meaningful one.

Watch Some Inspiration Videos

This video of Astronaut Nicole describing what it was like to see Earth for the first time when in outer space will give you an entirely new perspective on the planet we call home. Her descriptive imagery will leave you in awe and thankful. 

Learn the story behind the Earth Rising photo that started it all.

Follow Activists on Social Media

We all know Greta Thurnberg, but don’t miss messages from Xiye Bastida, a Chilean Mexican Indigenous activist, and organizer of Fridays for the Future. Vanessa Nakate, AKA the black woman cut from a photo of white activists, always has inspiring messages on social media. Isra Hirsi is the daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and she is fired up about climate change. Intersectional Environmentalists work to decolonize environmentalism for an inclusive approach to climate justice. Pattiegonia is a drag queen combining thrifty drag with environmental work. Indigenous activist Quannah Chasinghorse has a special place in my heart as she is fighting for my home state, Alaska, and protecting the ANWAR. I also want to thank Jackie Qataliña Schaeffer from Qikiqtuģruk, Alaska. She role-modeling behavior and uses Indigenous knowledge to fight for Alaska. 

Brush up on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 12 principles to help usher global sustainability, focusing on women’s rights, eradicating poverty, creating clean energy, stabilizing food sources, and more. I often think that many sustainable movements focus on the environment and reducing plastic waste, which leaves out some significant factors such as poverty and equality. Familiarizing yourself with these 12 goals will help you fight for change in a way that considers other aspects critical to sustainability. 

Learn About the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Biodiversity loss and extinction rates are happening at an increasingly fast pace. As many people and conservation efforts focus on climate issues or big-poster species, countless small and “ugly” species go unnoticed. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are sets of strategic goals that were supposed to have been met by 2020, over the last decade, called “The Decade of Biodiversity,” which started in 2011. It is not surprising that most of these goals haven’t been met or even come close to being reached. So, take some time to learn about these goals to help preserve our world’s biodiversity.

Discover a Threatened Species in your Region

In line with these goals, take the time to learn about one plant and one animal species in your home city, state, country, or region that may be endangered or threatened. Check out the IUCN’s list of threatened species and challenge yourself to pick you aren’t familiar with to increase your knowledge. Once you’ve found your species, go to Google Scholar and read an article about its conservation efforts. Tell me in the comments below which two species you chose. 

Official (and unofficial) Earth Day 2024 Events and Activities

Now that you are ready for Earth Day, check out these engaging ways to celebrate Earth Day 2020. 

Start your Day With a Nature Walk

The first thing you should do when you wake up on Earth Day is head out for some fresh air – if you can. Take a notebook or a camera with you and observe the plants and animals you see. Write down the plants, insects, birds, and other critters you can find in your neighborhood or along your favorite walking trail. This is a great way to assess your local biodiversity. Bring a rubbish bag and pick up any trash you see so your nature walk can double as a cleanup party! If you are isolating, head to your balcony or porch, or look out the window and do the same thing right from your house. 

Download the iNaturalist App to contribute to citizen science and learn about nature in your area.

Woodchat Shrikes Monfrague

Earth Day is usually full of races, including 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. For example, Seattle has an Earth Day run—Google your location and race if you want to enter. If you are a runner, you can also run a solo race and document your achievements on social media. 

It is also National Park Week, so if you are itching to see more of nature, check out the National Park’s virtual park tours to be transported in time and space to visit your favorite parks. 

Denali National Park Alaska

Visit Earth Day’s Website – and Attend an Event

One of the first things you should do is go straight to the source and check out Earth Day’s website. The official website is a great resource for learning more about Earth Day’s history and goals and some of the virtual events they are hosting. On the homepage, you will find a map where you can pinpoint your location, browse interesting topics, register to attend the events, and even start your own event.

Attend Earth Week Live 

Head over to Earth Day’s YouTube. They are featuring educational videos, live events, and more all week. Tune in for engaging live content!

Join the Earth Live Institute 

The Earth Live Institute has many events for Earth Day, including children’s education, information about greenwashing, and more!

Protest!

Look to see if anyone in your local community is organizing a protest. You can use Facebook, Google, or Meetup to find local protests and activities to make your voice heard.

Make an Earth Day Window Sign 

If you can’t attend a protest, fear not, my passionate friend; you can still make a sign and hang it in your window as a form of protest.

Or perhaps, if you don’t have some old cardboard, you can create an image on a drawing app or your computer and change your profile picture for everyone to see!

A protest sign is just one of several ways that Earth Day encourages you to take action. Once you’ve taken action, head over to the Earth Day action map and add your participation to the map for everyone to see worldwide. Use this map to learn how people are taking action worldwide. 

Protest Poster Earth Day

Attend Earth X Events

The Earth X Conference is a digital event space with many lectures, videos, and engaging environmental material to keep you active. 

Partake in the AMNH EarthFest

The American Museum of Natural History will host EarthFest, a family-friendly event. The fest will highlight botanical biodiversity and even includes a DIY home hands-on project to learn about ice. Make sure you join the watch party for each of their events. 

Check out NASA’s 2024 Hybrid Earth Day Event.

NASA always hosts a big celebration for Earth Day. Their online toolkit has loads of resources to help you celebrate Earth from space with visual learning, Earth Day posters for download, videos, and educational tools – and that is just scratching the surface. Don’t miss their digital posters and prepare to explore our planet from a new perspective.

Partake in Digital Clean-Up Day

If you cannot go out and clean up your park or city because of the global pandemic, then clean up your digital life. Due to the increase in internet and digital usage, the internet produces about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions! So, take some time to clean up your digital life in a 4 step process tackling your smartphone, laptop, and mailbox, and plan for the future. Register your action, and learn how to do this over at the Digital Cleanup Day.

Write a Letter 

Write a letter or email to your local politician or senator. Email your favorite CEO and ask them to take action. Make your voice heard with letters, emails, sign petitions, and phone calls. Demand action!

Additional Things to do on Earth Day

These are just a few additional things you can do on Earth Day to help you create better habits for a better future.

Calculate Your Ecological Footprint

What if everyone lived the way you do? How many planet Earths would it take to sustain your lifestyle habits? Take time to learn about your Ecological Footprint and practical ways to reduce your impact. I love the website Global Footprint Network, as it allows you to toggle your options to find out the best things to cut to have the most significant impact.

Remember that you are not alone in being responsible for the carbon output on Earth, and large corporations and businesses need pressure to reduce their footprint. This tool is helpful to live a more meaningful life, but you are not to blame for the climate crisis unless you are an oil company, part of the .1%, or that guy from my hometown, Eagle River, who drives a massive truck with the license plate 8 miles per gallon on it. 

Share your footprint number in the comments!

ecological footprint

Offset Your Ecological Footprint

After calculating your carbon footprint, it is time to set the ball in motion to offset your impact. There are several ways to do this, but if you are in the U.S. (or someone invested in the U.S.), my favorite method is using Terrapass. It’s a simple way to offset your harmful impact while investing in sustainable projects nationwide. 

If you are a frequent traveler, check out how to offset the harmful impacts of flying. If you are interested in global investments, check out COTap or My Climate

Remember to, first and foremost, reduce your carbon output BEFORE you offset or invest.

Downloading the EC2020 App 

The name is still from last year, but the app has been updated and is still awesome. Being a citizen scientist has never been easier. By downloading this app and logging in, you can collect data about your area’s plastic pollution and air quality. By doing this, you contribute to research and can learn about ways to improve air quality or pollution. The app is new, so the options are limited, but I hope to see it grow so we can submit more useful data. 

Android and iPhone

Become a Citizen Scientist 

Aside from downloading the above app, numerous communities always seek citizen scientists to participate in research opportunities. Recruiting volunteers such as yourself help research projects with budgeting restraints, it is an ethical way to practice conservation, and you’ll learn tons about your local environment. Ebird and the Merlin app are great ways to contribute to citizen science while birding. 

Monfrague National Park Spain Birding

In my home city, Alaska, a group of citizen scientists added crucial information about a critically endangered stock of genetically isolated beluga whales in the Cook Inlet. This project motivated locals to take pride in the local stock of belugas. Hopefully, more Anchorage locals will be willing to pay a water tax to prevent toxic untreated wastewater from entering the beluga’s habitat. So, touch base with your local fish and game, national park, or NGO to see how you can help them collect data to contribute to research! I am volunteering in my new home, Vancouver, Canada, to help recover the herring fish population.

Not sure where to look? Meetup is a surprisingly great place to find meetups focused on volunteer cleanup!

Discover all the ways you can become a Citizen Scientist

Donate to an Environmental Charity or NGO

If the pandemic didn’t impact your budget, consider donating to an environmental NGO or charity. This year, challenge yourself to think outside the box; rather than defaulting to WWF or panda conservation, try to find a small local NGO and a grassroots movement that needs support preserving species in your state or region. I can recommend International Environmentalists

If you don’t have the budget to donate, give your time. You can do this from your couch by merely sharing or engaging with social media so your friends and family become aware of a cause close to your heart. 

Do Another Earth Hour

So what if Earth Hour was in March? Let’s do it again. For one hour during your day, turn off all power in your apartment or house. Don’t use the laundry, vacuum, dishwasher, microwave, radio, etc. Ensure you turn off your phone, computer, TV, outlets, lights, heat, E-reader – EVERYTHING. If it has the power, it has to go! Sitting in the dark and quiet for a full hour of your day is ok. You’ll love it, trust me. 

Friday for the Future

Friday, February 19, 2024, is a global day of action to join the climate strike for the future. You don’t have to be in school or young to partake. Check out local virtual strikes for ways to get involved. Or, if you are a freelancer like me – change your email message to out of the office and say that you are on strike because of the climate. I sometimes do work, but I don’t answer emails and let people know why! Join the Global Climate Strike. 

Go Meatless for the Day

If you are not a vegetarian or vegan, challenge yourself to go meatless for the entire day. Start with some prepped overnight protein oats or a spinach banana berry smoothie for breakfast; for lunch, make a yummy veggie wrap with seasoned mushrooms for flavor; and for dinner, try a coconut veggie curry with some chickpeas for protein. If you survived the whole day – try it again next week! You can do it! For inspiration, check out vegetarian recipes on Pinterest and visit Earth Day Foodprint for more information.

Journal Your Trash Consumption

From when you wake up to when you go to bed on Earth Day, write down everything you throw away. Look at everything to see if there are ways you can reduce your garbage output. Think about any plastic-free swaps you can make. Is there anything you can recycle or reuse for another purpose?

Try a DIY or Recycling Project

Take some time on Earth Day to learn to make a simple facial scrub with the ingredients in your house – then give yourself an at-home spa day with your coffee grounds face scrub or homemade sea salt hair spray. Try to reuse old bottles and jars you find in your house. Pinterest is an excellent resource for this. Get creative and have fun. 

forest earth day

Don’t Dry Your Clothing

If you’re doing laundry on Earth Day, try hanging your clothes out to dry. We in Europe, and generally the rest of the world, do this every time we wash our clothing. If you’re in the U.S. and find this strange, give it a go-to to save energy. 

Plant Wild Native Flowers 

April is the perfect time to get your garden going for summer. Spend some time today planting or researching local native flowers that benefit bees or other species. When I first moved to Munich, I wanted picture-perfect flower boxes; now, I use a wild seed mix curated in Berlin for the region to foster healthy and happy bees, and my planter boxes never looked better!

You can also set up hydration stations for bees with a simple bowl of water and rocks or pebbles for the bees to land on. This is a great way to keep bees and other insects hydrated as we move into summer. 

northern lights alaska

History of Earth Day

It has been 54 years since the first Earth Day, and continuing the fight for a better planet is even more critical. 

Bill Anders of the Apollo 8 crew took an Earth Rising photo. This photo puts into perspective the magnitude of our planet and the beauty of the blues and greens rising over the moon. Some have called Earth Rising the most famous photograph of all time, sparking the beginning of the environmental movement. 

Fifty-four years ago, an oil spill ravaged Santa Barbara. Senator Gaylor Nelson, outraged, knew it was time to create a movement to stop events like this from happening. He looked to the fire and passion of student anti-war protesters and knew this would be the foundation of his movement.

Fifty-three ago, this movement, now known as Earth Day, began. April 22 was the ideal day when student participation would be the greatest. Nelson and a few others started teach-ins on college campuses to bring education to environmental issues surrounding Earth. 

Earth Day quickly caught on, bringing activists across numerous sectors, including wildlife, oceans, climate, and energy, together for the first time to fight for a common cause. Today, this is the beauty of Earth Day; it takes each individual fighting for one plant, one animal, or protesting against one power plant to come together as one loud voice to create a catalyst for change. 

Continue that Momentum!

Let’s celebrate Earth Day every day. Take all the fantastic new things you learned this week and use them as a catalyst for change to take action now. Save this post, as it will be updated every year!

Please comment on your actions to honor or celebrate Earth Day or something cool you learned this week. I’m here to support you; we are all in this together!

Fun ways to celebrate earth day