This year, Earth Day 2020 marks a milestone anniversary: 50 years of environmental advocacy and education.
The event, which first launched in the United States in 1970 as a “national teach-in on the environment,” now unites global citizens, reaching across language, religion and politics. More than one billion people are expected to mobilize under the mission of "diversifying, educating and activating the worldwide environmental movement."
And while Earth Day 2020 will be observed in the context of Covid-19, social distancing should not dissuade you from participating. Why? Because small hinges swing big doors. In other words, the small but collective actions of individuals – as consumers, voters and community members – affect big change. We can start making small but immediate changes right now, at home.
Here are 10 action-oriented ways to celebrate Earth Day 2020 from home that will inspire you to plant small seeds of positive change.
10. Engage in some armchair activism
Use the easy, pre-written letter templates of The Natural Resources Defense Council to express your environmental concerns to lawmakers. You’ll join a chorus of likeminded citizen changemakers tackling issues such as climate change, energy, oceans and health.
The NRDC website is also a good place to learn about emerging and existing commercial threats to the environment in Canada, the U.S. and abroad. It’s not all doom and gloom, either. Stories and case studies detailing the successful defense of wild places are shared here, too.
9. Take bite-size actions
When confronting overwhelming and complex challenges like climate change it can be difficult to feel that your individual actions will make an impact. If you're feeling paralyzed or don't know where to start, check out Eco Warrior Princess' 30 Things You Can Do If You're Feeling Helpless About Climate Change. From going zero waste to ethical investing, this article offers bite-size actions you can take today.
8. Curb your consumerism
As consumers, we vote with every dollar we spend. When we know better, we do better – which is exactly what's covered in journalist Tatiana Schlossberg’s new book: Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have. Its timely solutions are relevant to anyone who cares even a little bit about the planet. Trust us, you’ll never look at a cashmere sweater the same again.
7. Take this quiz to reconnect with nature
When we feel connected to Earth and the natural world, we feel a stronger obligation to protect it. Living busy, screen-filled lives with long commutes in urban centres can disrupt that connection.
Ready to reconnect with nature in a fun way? Take the Nature Conservancy of Canada's "Nature Score" (a free online quiz), which then connects you to a virtual nature coach who delivers personalized weekly tips by email.
6. Start "re-wilding" your life
Rewild (verb): To introduce (animals or plants) to their original habitat; to return (land) to a more natural state.
To re-establish a connection with nature, use these inspiring once-a-day prompts to bring the natural world back into your everyday life. Most of the simple suggestions are perfect for neighbourhood social distancing walks.
Click here to get started: 30 Ways to Rewild Your Life
5. Plant a tree
As the Chinese proverb states, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”
Before you start digging holes, it’s important to take some measures to best ensure your sapling's odds of survival. Questions like “when to plant?” “what to plant” and “how deep do I dig?“ are all thoroughly answered by this Growing a Greener World article How to Plant A Tree the Right Way – 7 Steps for Getting it Right Every Time.
4. Cultivate a green thumb
If it seems like everyone else has a “green touch” while your houseplants wither on the bookshelf, Oregon State University's Master Gardener Series offers a Vegetable Gardening Course. Twelve videos provide a crash course in gardening fundamentals that will get you growing in just four-to-six hours.
Click here to enroll in a free Vegetable Gardening Course
3. Create a bug and bird-friendly backyard
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, manicured lawns are a proverbial desert for pollinators and wildlife. Critters prefer "messier," less scripted landscapes where native plant species grow. These types of gardens are lower maintenance for homeowners than those that require frequent mowing and tending.
Start attracting bees, butterflies and bugs, read How to Create a Pollinator-Friendly Garden.
2. Conserve water in your home and garden
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water."
While most North Americans enjoy clean drinking water that free-flows into their homes, according to the World Wildlife Fund, about "1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year."
Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves that water is one of our planet's most precious resources and that it should be treasured as such.
1. Get your kids involved
Since you'll be observing Earth Day 2020 from home, there's no reason not to involve the entire family. When we teach young people to care for the natural environment, we raise the next generation of environmentalists.
Click to read How to Raise an Environmentalist by Greater Good Magazine