The theme of Earth Day 2021 is “Restore Our Earth,” a fitting and hopeful message to help kick off a decade the United Nations has declared the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
If you’re eager to get into the Earth Day spirit now, there are plenty of action steps you can take.
First, we encourage you to check out EarthDay.org and consider becoming a member. When you’re there, check out upcoming virtual events, search for Earth Day 2021 events in your area and get prepped for Earth Day Live, a multi-hour event that will take place from April 20th - April 22.
Next, read on for a list of small and large ways you can contribute to the health of our planet and its people.
Restore the planet
Pick up litter, by yourself, with your family, with your company, or with a broader organized community
Consider how you garden and/or care for your lawn. Aim for organic practices using no chemical pesticides or herbicides. Look for ways to increase biodiversity and native plants.
Become a beekeeper
Start a vermicompost
Help build biodiversity within public spaces in your own community
Conserve natural resources
Take stock in your own carbon footprint through calculators like this one. Often, just seeing the data leads to immediate changes.
Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy
Heat and cool only the areas of your home you actually use
Ask your utilities company to switch to cleaner, renewable energy sources
If its economically feasible for you, consider solar panels and/or an electric vehicle
Reuse, Recycle and Buy Recycled
Look for every opportunity to replace single use goods with reusable alternatives. Remember that zero waste alternatives do not have to be Instagram worthy! Old clothes can become dishrags. Pasta jars can become drinking glasses or storage containers.
Buy used (fashion, furniture, accessories, etc), but don’t thrift in ways that take resources away from communities that rely on lower priced, high quality used goods
Find ways to repair any durable item you are considering throwing away.
Consider every item you purchase and look for alternatives with maximum levels of recycled content (especially post-consumer waste).
First, reduce (think twice before you buy)
Shop with companies that give you transparency into how goods are made, what they are made with, and how they treat their workers
Some parts of the environmental movement seem rooted in privilege (high end zero waste goods, slow fashion, organic food), remember that true environmentalism is inclusive - advocating for “both the protection of people and the planet...bring[ing] injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront...Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people + the planet.” ~ Leah Thomas
The first step in intersectionality is getting knowledgeable. Check out https://www.intersectionalenvironmentalist.com/ and read books like Black Faces, White Spaces and A Terrible Thing to Waste.
Bringing intersectionality into your environmental efforts will also give you the bigger picture of why certain actions are so critical, such as landfill diversion (low income, BIPOC Americans are far more likely to live near toxic landfills that detract from their health) and the importance of greening urban spaces.
Be an Activist
At its core, Earth Day is a time to advocate for legislative change that will help protect our planet. These days, advocating can be as simple as signing an online petition.
This is a good start. But don’t forget higher touch strategies - calling or writing to your congressmen, marching, and creating posts and videos encouraging your network to advocate as well. Check out organizations like The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International to get started (there are dozens more).
And consider donating to advocacy and environmental nonprofit organizations. Ultimately, these funds are enable them to pursue the change we all want to see.
Read, Learn; Share and Dialog
There are a myriad of resources to help you get deep in issues of sustainability. Here are a tiny subset of ideas to get you started!
Documentaries: The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy, Beyond Recognition, Come Hell or High Water, The Biggest Little Farm, Fools and Dreamers, Chasing Coral