How & why we celebrate Earth Day, April 22nd

Earth Day is one of the few globally celebrated days of observance in the world, with more than a billion people joining together in past years to show their support for environmental protection. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (learn the history here) on April 22nd, and many events were planned to draw attention to the urgent need for greater climate action to protect our planet. 

It is no doubt with dismay that Earth Day Organizers have come to realize that gathering together like in years past simply isn’t going to be allowed everywhere right now. Therefore, celebrations of Earth day 2020 have gone the way of schools, work and socializing; we will all have to meet online. 

How to celebrate Earth Day 2020 at home

As most of us are unexpectedly confined to our homes, with many of us struggling to keep kids entertained and learning, there is no better time to undertake Earth Day activities with families in the safety of our own homes and backyards. Here are a few activities to learn yourself, or to pass on to kids –

Learn how to grow vegetables in a shady corner of the garden that would otherwise probably sit there doing nothing useful. And for those in apartments and condos without yards, learn how to grow food at home in small spaces. It's probably a safe assumption to say that all of us have at least one window in our home where at least one small container with a seed in it could grow into something we could eat! 

Learn about composting kitchen waste - because that goes hand-in-hand with food productiion. The food waste that might previously have been on its way to a landfill has tremendous value and can be used to grow more food in your own home and yard.

Learn about the impact of your diet on climate change – find out what foods are not only healthier for your body, but learn the different impacts that your food choices have on the environment (spoiler alert – vegetables consume far less natural resources than steak, so ‘meat-aterians’ should brace themselves for bad news, sorry!)

Switching to LED light bulbs – this helps keep a home cooler in summer, and the latest LED bulbs on the market are affordable, long-lasting, and give off warm natural light. 

Install low-flow showerheads – although the difference in experience is virtually undetectable, you will have a noticeable reduction in your energy bills. 

Learn about easy energy efficiency home upgrades - in our Building Guide pages you can learn about simple home improvements that save you money and energy while making your home more comfortable and more durable. While confined, we will eventually run out of drawers and closets to clean, so think big!

Touchless home technologies – these can reduce the spread of viruses while adding convenience, security, and often amount to energy savings as well. 

Home improvement project with kids - teach your kids life valuable skills such as how to build, maintain and repair different things in your home 

The environmental impacts of Covid-19

In a way, Earth Day 2020 is already a great success, with two of the silver linings of the global pandemic being reduced pollution and reduced consumerism. So in a way, most of us are already participating by making fewer trips to stores, being more conscious of our personal resources by reducing waste and working from home which means driving less. 

The results, if you have not already seen, are nothing short of astounding. The skylines and distant horizons surrounding cities that are normally covered in a blanket of smog are showing themselves for the first time in decades.

Sea turtles are nesting on empty beaches that are normally covered with people; many polluted waterways are clearing up and allowing fish, dolphins and whales to occupy previously abandoned areas. 

With a respite of human activity dominating and polluting the land, air and sea, nature is rearing its head and it’s a beautiful thing to see. Right there is the best way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, look at what is possible. 

We are in no way suggesting that this current situation can be maintained, but at least we know what a cleaner planet can look like, and how quickly the Earth can show signs of recovery. So take a moment and soak up some of the positives with the images below – 

Comparison of Los Angeles smog in 2020 during stay at home pandemic shutdown
Comparison of Los Angeles smog in 2020 during stay at home pandemic lockdown
Sea turtles nesting on empty beaches due to stay at home legislation
Sea turtles nesting on empty beaches in Florida that are normally packed with people
Global shutdown leads to clean water in Venice allows nature to rebound
Global shutdown leads to clean water in Venice and allows nature to rebound GNU Free Documentation License
Animals wander empty streets during coronavirus lockdown
Animals wander empty streets in Wales during coronavirus lockdown CC BY 2.0

 We wish for everyone to stay safe during these difficult times, and to try to find some positives wherever you can. Staying informed is important, but don’t forget to take a moment away from the bad news and look towards a time when we can regain some semblance of normalcy in our lives, and to carry forward any valuable changes we are currently experiencing. Happy Earth Day everyone! 

Earth Day 2020 virtual celebrations and events

Earth Day organizers have already changed gears and put together Earth Day Live via Facebook, where you can find a number of virtual events to attend. 

Here we have compiled a short list of other virtual Earth day events and resources for kids for those wishing to participate at a safe ‘social distance’ and to keep to the origins of being an educational day for the planet –

  • Environmental Learning Center Earth Day Challenge and other Earth Day activities online
  • iPad Earth Day Lesson Plans: Apple and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation produced these multimedia-rich lessons designed specifically for iPad. Each lesson features free downloadable iBooks, images, and interactives.
  • American Museum of Natural History Curriculum: The AMNH Curriculum Collections section is a great starting point for exploring many different natural science subjects. From Antarctica to river ecology, there’s a collection that can be used in almost any home education session. Ecology Disrupted, a high school learning module, also works great with this year’s theme: Environmental and Climate Literacy.
  • History and Earth Day Learning: produced a huge collection of lessons, activities, and quizzes to learn about the history of Earth Day and conservation. 
  • Nature Works Everywhere: This collection of video lesson plans, created by the Nature Conservancy, is great for learning ecology. There are science-based lessons with accompanying videos, virtual field trip videos, and Meet the Scientist videos. 
  • Earth Day Network’s Environmental Curriculum: This EDN-produced environmental education program is a great resource for learning all about Earth Day. Also check out the Climate Education Week toolbox, for elementary school, middle school, and high school students.
  • The EPA’s Lesson Plans : The Environmental Protection Agency’s Earth Day website provides great ideas, lesson plans, and tips for Earth Day learning. Check out the lessons, which cover  air, ecosystems, climate change, water, and more. All featured lessons can be downloaded, and there are resources for every grade.
  • Science NetLinks: Earth Day Lesson Collection: A collection produced for last year’s Earth Day, but still relevant this year. Science NetLinks produced a big list of lessons and learning tools on a variety of earth science subjects, and they’re all easy to browse by grade level, subject, and type of project.

Now you know how to find 50th Anniversary Earth Day celebrations online, find out more in the Ecohome Green Building Guide pages about green lifestyle choices that can reduce your personal carbon footprint and aid in mitigating climate change. 

Find more about green home construction and reap the benefits of a free Ecohome Network Membership here.