Earth Day 2017 is just around the corner, with the official date set for Saturday 22nd April. For anyone who’s new to the idea, this annual event is all about environmentalism. The movement first launched in 1970 and has only increased in popularity ever since. Whether you’re a homebody, a full family or a solo celebrator, there are plenty of ways to get involved in New York City and beyond.
Get the family or a group of friends together and all agree to put aside your electronics for an evening - whether that means simply turning off the television or going all the way and switching off electric lights. You could break out some old-fashioned board games, drink wine by (soy) candlelight for a sophisticated evening, or indulge your inner children by playing a game of hide-and-seek in the dark! As well as spending some quality time together, you’ll save on energy emissions.
Visit Union Square
Earth Day Initiative are hosting a block party in Union Square to celebrate Earth Day 2017, with a focus on the kick-off of their Countdown to 50 (years of Earth Day) campaign. Join in for music, information and a buzzing atmosphere. Among the many stalls that will be present, you’ll find local food sellers that specialize in sustainable ingredients and environmentally friendly products.
Join in with the Car-Free NYC movement that’s taking place on Earth Day and give up your car for the day. If you have long distances to travel, you could take public transportation for the day. If you’re staying nearby, replace driving with walking. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, and find a new way to explore the city.
Write a Letter
Use Earth Day as an opportunity to have your voice heard by the people with the power to make big changes. Send a letter to your local representative about environmental issues you feel passionate about. It could be about protecting green spaces in your area, changing legislation or tackling the larger issues. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could pen a letter to President Trump to try and persuade him to change his position on climate change.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
What better time to appreciate New York City’s green spaces than on Earth Day? Take a trip to the Botanical Gardens for the first day of the Chihuly exhibition. It’s named for its creator, multi-media artist Dale Chihuly, and plays with light and colors through exquisite glass sculptures. While you’re there, you can join a paper-cutting class with Jenny Lee Fowler to truly get in touch with your inner flower child.
If you’ve been looking for some motivation to get working on your garden, this is the perfect time. Whether you have your own garden or perhaps a community space, head outdoors and start planting and pruning. You could start your own vegetable patch and enjoy the fruits of your labors for a long time to come, or do your bit for the planet by planting a tree. If you’ve got little ones, this is a great way to get them involved with their environment and kick-start a lifelong love of the outdoors.
Give Meat a Miss
Did you know that nearly one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are created by the meat industry? By cutting down on meat consumption, we can all contribute to the efforts to reduce the global carbon footprint. On Earth Day, try out a veggie recipe or visit a vegetarian restaurant in your area. If you want to turn it into a long-term habit but aren’t quite ready for full-fledged vegetarianism, consider joining in with meat-free Mondays.
Pitch In, Clean Up
Volunteer your time and help make your city a better place on Earth Day 2017. The NYC Service organization connects like-minded volunteers and has an entire section dedicated to environmental volunteering. While special Earth Day activities such as park cleanups will be hosted on the day, there are also a number of ongoing projects which you can become a part of.
Clean Up Your E-Act
Many of us are well aware of the importance of recycling household waste, and of separating papers and plastics, but there’s one area that’s still largely overlooked: electronic waste. Despite representing only around 2% of America’s landfill trash, it makes up around 70% of toxic waste. If you’ve got old computers or outdated mobile phones cluttering up your cupboards, make Earth Day 2017 the day you find a local e-waste recycler.
Hit the Sales
In the spirit of recycling, the Buffalo Exchange is hosting a special event to celebrate Earth Day. The famous thrift store is offering clothes, jewelry, and accessories at just $1 a piece for the day, and all the proceeds will go to The Humane Society of the United States - an animal protection charity. Saving the planet has never looked so tempting!
Host Your Own Event
Double your impact and get another person involved with Earth Day 2017. In fact, the more the merrier! There are plenty of options to choose from: you cook a vegetarian dinner for your family and friends; plan your own fundraiser for an environment- or animal-focused charity; or hold a talk at your local school, workplace or community club.
Scavenger Hunt in Harlem
Visit the Museum of New York City for a family-friendly Earth Day 2017 celebration. A special exhibition, Activist New York, presents the many ways New York’s citizens contribute to the fight to protect our planet through a novel scavenger hunt. Kids (and kids at heart) can then join in a pot-painting activity, at the end of which they get to take home their handiwork.
Build a Birdhouse
Bring nature to you by building your very own birdhouse for your garden or balcony. Whether you choose to DIY your own carpentry project or keep things simple with a makeshift shoe-box house, it’s a great craft activity for all the family and a lovely way to get children to engage with their local wildlife. For an even simpler alternative, use peanut butter and seeds to make a simple bird feeder.
One of the most important aspects of Earth Day is raising awareness. Even if you’re not able to participate in any Earth Day events, mark the occasion by setting aside a few hours of your day to read up on some of the issues facing our environment. It’s a broad topic to tackle, so you might want to start with any field that particularly interests you. If you’ve always been interested in Antarctica, Look into the impact climate change is having on sea ice. If you think bees are cute (or you’re just a big fan of honey!), find out more about the threat of extinction.
With more than one billion people participating in Earth Day activities around the globe, the future of environmentalism is looking brighter than ever.