5 things you can do to celebrate Earth Day
By Cathy Sorbara, Ph.D.
Head of Engagement, Net Impact Amsterdam
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 marks the 50th celebration of Earth Day. Many of us, myself included, may feel uneasy about what the proper way to celebrate is and how to honor its theme, climate action, at a time when we are in the grips of a global pandemic. Our societies have shut down, borders are closed, unemployment is rising and many companies are struggling. Regardless of reports that the lock down is “good for the environment”, it does not feel celebratory.
But here’s the thing: the climate crisis is a health crisis. The health impacts of climate change are far reaching and the positive things we do for our planet will also positively influence our health and well being.
During the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million Americans, about 10% of the US population during that time, came together in response to an environmental crisis with clear health ramifications – oil spills, smog and rivers so polluted they actually caught fire.
With that in mind, I wanted to present a list of things we can all do to celebrate Earth Day, without leaving our homes and respecting the situation we find ourselves in.
1. Attend Online Earth Day Events
The Smithsonian will present the Earth Optimism Summit for free online this year. Running from April 22 – 24, speakers include National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Founder, Pristine Seas Enric Sala and Director of the Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University, Katharine Hayhoe. You can also check out Earth Day’s official website to see what other virtual Earth Day activities are on.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network will also host a free, 24 hour webinar alongside several other organizations on Earth Day. They will explore the Sustainable Development Goals through the lens of well-being and happiness.
There are also several hackathons taking place should you feel inspired to do more, such as the Open Climate Collabathon 2020 (Net Impact Berlin ESMT is taking a leading role in this, so let us know if you’re interested and we will connect you!) and the Pan-EU Hackathon, which focuses on the fight against COVID-19.
2. Support Your Local Growers & Producers
Now that restaurants are closed, many of the local producers are finding themselves with excess food waste. By purchasing food boxes they are offering online, not only will you be receiving fresh, local produce delivered right to your door, but you are also curbing waste and supporting your community. Lindenhoof, Boerschappen Home Made Chefs and Support Your Locals are great places to look.
In addition to surplus food, the corona virus has also led to a large surplus of flowers. You can support Dutch growers and bring nature into your home by purchasing tulips via Pluukz at cost.
3. Choose One Small Action To Do At Home
Earth Day can be a great time to reflect on your own actions at home and see where there is room for improvement. The saying ‘one person can make a difference’ may make eyes roll but combined individual actions lead to collective action and puts pressure on our systems to change as well. Tiny Tips that Shake the World has a slew of ideas to get you started as well as a new book by environmental scientist, Dr. Tara Shine, called How To Save Your Planet One Object At a Time.
Need some ideas to get started? Try going plant-based for one day or find an item around your house you were considering replacing and try to repair and reuse it, instead!
4. Be Inspired By A Book
Many of us are devouring books during this time at home and now is a great time to choose one that can both educate and inspire you to think about our planet and its future. Here are a few I have read recently, or are on my reading list, and would recommend:
- The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac
- On Fire: The Burning Case For a New Green Deal by Naomi Klein
- Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson
- The Fate of Food by Amanda Little
- Ooit Aten We Dieren by Roanne van Voorst
5. Enjoy Nature
Going outside can be challenging during this time, depending on where we live and how easy it is to keep an appropriate distance away from one another. But, if possible, I believe this is the best thing we can do this Earth Day. Celebrate mother nature by going for a walk, sitting in your garden or simply looking out your window. Watch the trees, the flowers, the bees. Be grateful for the nature we can enjoy. (If you are craving more nature scenery than what is outside your window, you can check out Explore Live Nature Cams on YouTube.)