The world may be in the grips of a pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Earth Day on April 22 while social distancing. This year will also mark the 50th anniversary of the event, which has grown into a global movement since Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. This year’s theme is climate change, which is an increasingly urgent threat that requires collective action from all of us. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate, conserve, and champion this important cause from home.
1. Save Water
Regular hand washing is one of the best protections against the novel coronavirus. Experts recommend washing your hands for at least 20 seconds (or about how long it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice), but there’s no need to keep the tap water running this whole time. Just turn the water back on when you’re ready to rinse.
2. Plant a tree
Planting trees is synonymous with Earth Day, and there’s no need to break this important tradition just because you’re stuck at home. Trees help absorb pollution, combat climate change, and they’re easy to plant in your own backyard. Most local nurseries, although online-only or operating on limited hours, can still arrange for a local sapling to be delivered to your house. Don’t have your own yard? Foster a potted tree on your porch until it’s large enough to be replanted elsewhere, or we can plant a tree for you.
3. Make a Veggie Meal
Eating more greens isn’t just good for your health. It also boosts the planet, because raising livestock involves large swathes of land, habitat destruction, a steep increase in greenhouse gasses and demand for fossil fuels. Eating vegetarian even a couple of nights per week can relieve this environmental pressure, plus there’s never been a better time to learn how to cook! Check out our sister site, 12 Tomatoes, for vegetarian recipes the whole family will enjoy.
4. Create a Wildlife Sanctuary In Your Backyard
Urbanization has destroyed much of the habitat animals once called home, but you can use this downtime to convert your backyard into a welcoming sanctuary for birds, butterflies, and other displaced wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation explains how to create a sustainable garden filled with native plant species that provide seeds, nectar, foliage, and other food sources; water for drinking and bathing; and shelter for nesting, protection, and shade. Visit our website for bird baths and feeders that can transform your backyard into an urban wildlife sanctuary. Other earth-friendly backyard projects could include planting a vegetable patch or building a composting bin.
5. Embrace Earth-Friendly Habits
Although common in Europe, many Americans hadn’t heard of bidets before COVID-19, when pandemic buying suddenly cleared store shelves of toilet paper. But toilet paper is incredibly wasteful, clogging sewers, landfills, and requiring obscene amounts of water, wood, bleach, and electricity to produce a single roll. A cleaner, greener, and more pandemic-friendly option is the bidet, which is seeing a resurgence on this side of ‘the pond’ as U.S. shoppers are finally forced to consider toilet paper alternatives. The really good news is that installing a bidet in your bathroom doesn’t even require a major renovation. Some companies sell bidet fixtures that can be screwed onto standard toilet seats for under $100. Even if you’re not ready to say adieu to toilet paper completely, Earth Day is a great time to reconsider ways to cut back on household waste.
6. Stay Connected
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected, especially in the Internet age. Visit Earthday.org to learn more about virtual activities and events happening in your area, and be sure to tune in to the organization’s first-ever digital celebration on April 22. Above all, don’t let quarantine keep your voice from being heard! Post about Earth Day on social media, email and call your local representatives, and vote (remotely, if possible) for politicians who share your commitment to acting on climate change. This pandemic should remind us all of the urgent need to fight for our planet!
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.