This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It is also the first Digital Earth Day in history due to the global pandemic. While some may be disappointed that they cannot gather to celebrate as they would in the past, it can also be seen as an opportunity to build an even larger coalition connected through digital channels.
“Our current pandemic demonstrates that governments must embrace science early. As we see now, many governments were slow to respond or even indifferent about the science of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, in a press release. “But the last few weeks have also demonstrated that our society, even at the international level, is capable of mass shifts across all sectors to meet a crisis head-on. We must apply the same scale and urgency of our response to climate change.”
Since 1970, the environmental justice movement has mobilized a billion people and led to the passage of landmark laws. Those first 20 million Americans who took to the street, college campuses, and cities across the U.S. were pioneers in launching the modern environmental movement. Now, there is a second wave of frustrated and fearless activists who are demanding action from global leaders.
To commemorate the hard work and progress made over the last 50 years, and to continue fighting for environmental justice, celebrate Earth Day with your friends and family–digitally.
1. Show Your Solidarity
Whether you live in a studio apartment in San Francisco or a home in the countryside, you can show your commitment to the planet by hanging a sign in your window. Create a poster that speaks to your values and feelings during this time. You can use recycled materials from around the house or opt for no paper use by using washable window markers. There is a plethora of inspiration on Pinterest for slogans and designs. Get creative then share your work on social media using the hashtag #EarthDay2020 and #EarthRise!
You can also show your solidarity by registering to vote and getting involved in local, state, and national politics. There are many ways to volunteer your time from home and support candidates whose platform and values align with yours.
2. Join an Online Event
Earth Day Network, the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, has adapted this year’s events for the current quarantine period. You can tune into Earth Day Live 2020 for 24 hours of action.
There are hundreds of online events that are specific to certain topics or you can find an online event organized by someone in your local area. You could also create your own event if you felt so inclined!
3. Reduce Your Consumption
We’re surprised Netflix hasn’t broken yet with the hundreds of millions of people streaming videos all over the world. Unsurprisingly, the carbon footprint of streaming music and videos is staggering. Online video streaming currently emits 306 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to research from the Shift Project and a special report from the EU Commission.
For 24 hours, try reducing how much you time you spend online (exceptions can be made for online Earth Day events). Read that dusty book on your shelf you started three years ago and never got past page 20. Play a board game. Write a letter to friends or family members, and tell them why you’re writing a physical letter for the first time in forever. You’re doing it for the planet!
For more ideas on how to reduce your consumption, read our article on 15 ways to reduce your environmental impact.
4. Educate Yourself (Then Others)
Climate change is a vastly complex and controversial issue. But the “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. So, it’s important to learn about the grand challenge we are facing as a global community. And, to help one another move towards positive solutions.
There is an endless amount of content on the internet to educate yourself on the facts around climate change. Some great resources we’ve found include UNESCO’s Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development programme, Stanford Earth, and NASA’s Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet website.
It is also an incredibly emotional topic no matter which “side” your beliefs fall on. So, it’s important to be understanding of where the person is that you’re speaking to before throwing facts and figures at them. Start the conversation by asking what the other person thinks about climate change. Or watch a documentary together that will “speak” to your audience. A fact-first documentary such as Ice on Fire, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio on HBO, is excellent for sparking a healthy conversation.
5. Connect With Nature
Connecting with the natural world is a vital part of celebrating Earth Day. Show your appreciation for Earth’s bounty by getting outside, if that’s possible where you are. Even if it’s for 20 minutes, take a walk around the block and look at flowers blooming and the green grass. Sit under a tree and read a book or lay out a picnic blanket in the park.
6. Create a Regenerative Garden
It would be appropriate for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, that we are celebrating digitally because of a global pandemic, to start a regenerative garden. The Earth’s topsoil has been decimated since the Industrial Revolution due to monoculture practices and the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Be a part of the movement towards regenerative agriculture, which can reverse climate change, by sequestering carbon dioxide in your own soil.
Today, victory gardens, a concept that emerged during both world wars, are making a serious comeback as a result of the coronavirus. People are regaining control of their food supply to improve their mental and physical health. And they’re growing what they can wherever they can.
Climate change has detrimental effects on our health and one of the ways you can help fight it is by starting a garden. Look at the ecosystem as a whole and create habitats for new life.
There are many ways to volunteer for Earth Day. One of which could be organizing a neighborhood clean up on Nextdoor or Facebook (while practicing all necessary safety precautions for the coronavirus). You can learn more about volunteering on Earth Day Network’s website.