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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, and make our voices heard. Happy Earth Day, Everyone! Here are some of the best ways to celebrate!
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 got you covered with all the best ways to celebrate Earth Day. Gear up for days of online activities and events!
Earth Day 2023 Theme – Invest in Our Planet
The theme for 2023 is Invest in Our Planet! I like this year’s theme as it focused on tapping into everyone’s ability to make conscious changes that are better for our planet. Essentially the theme explores engaging all stakeholders, including governments, institutions, businesses, and the 1 billion people that celebrate Earth Day, to do their part. It really does take all of us; Governments to intact and enforce pro-environmental policy, big businesses to institute changes within their supply chain for global impact, and us to advocate and demand these changes.
Embrace This Year’s Theme
The first thing you can do this year to celebrate Earth Day embraces the theme. Think about all the companies, politicians, and people in your life that you can demand or have healthy conversations regarding the change. Write letters to your politicians and email companies you buy from to inquire about the supply chain. At the end of the day, look at your personal behaviors. Find ways to save energy, reduce water, buy less, eat less meat, and lower carbon emissions.
How to Celebrate Earth Day
Today I will focus on Earth Day-specific events or activities rather than lifestyle changes you should make daily. I’ll start with ways to get in the mood for Earth Day, such as climate change music and podcasts, then I’ll get into the meat with specific events for Earth Day 2023, 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 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.
Listen to Podcasts
If you are more of a podcast person, here are some suggestions to learn 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 Beginners, Climate 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.
One of my favorite things about getting Disney+ was their great environmental documentaries! This year they are releasing Secrets of the Elephant for Earth Day. Before the Flood is also on Disney+ and is a powerful film talking about climate change around the world with science-based perspectives. Disney+ makes it easy, categorizing all their documentaries and movies for Earth Day, so just log in, binge-watch, and learn.
Waterbear Network is a new platform that you can sign up for free. Their 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 a Fierce Green Fire that covers the history and power behind the environmental movement – perfect for Earth Day.
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.
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. 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 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.
In celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, enjoy this encore release of “Down to Earth – A Work of Art,“ where former NASA astronaut @Astro_Nicole recalls seeing home below during her time aboard the station. #SpaceStation20th #EarthDay50th pic.twitter.com/uhShgu3IsL
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) April 19, 2020
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 UNs 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 or two about its conservation efforts. Tell me in the comments below which two species you chose.
Official Earth Day 2023 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.
Earth Day is usually full of races, including 5Ks, 10ks, and half marathons. For example, Seattle has an Earth Day run – just google your location and race if you want to enter. You can also run a solo race and document your achievement on social media if you are a runner.
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.
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 the history and goals of Earth Day 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, and register to attend the events. You can even start your own event.
Attend Earth Week Live
Head over to Earth Day’s Youtube. All week they are featuring educational videos, live events, and more. 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!
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 make it to 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 additional ways people are taking action around the world.
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 2023 Hybrid Earth Day Event.
NASA is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of 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 responsible for the carbon output on Earth, and large corporations and businesses need the 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, that drives a massive truck with the license plate 8 miles per gallon on it.
Share what your footprint number is in the comments!
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 is updated and 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 a bit limited, but I hope to see it grow so we can submit more useful data.
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.
In my home city, in 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.
Discover all the ways you can become a Citizen Scientist
Donate to an Environmental Charity or NGO
If your budget wasn’t impacted by the pandemic, 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 got to go! It is ok to sit in the dark and quiet for a full hour of your day. You’ll love it, trust me.
Friday for the Future
This Friday, the 24th, 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 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.
Don’t Dry Your Clothing
Doing laundry on Earth Day, try hanging your clothes out to dry. It is what we all over here in Europe, and generally the rest of the world, does 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 your hydration stations for bees with a simple bowl of water with rocks or pebbles for the bees to land on, it is a great way to keep bees and other insects hydrated as we move into summer.
History of Earth Day
It has been 53 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, from wildlife, oceans, climate, and energy, together for the first time to fight for a common cause. Today 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 it 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!
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