Ways To Observe Earth Day 2023
The 53rd Earth Day is Saturday, April 22, 2023. So, what is Earth Day? How did it come to be? How do we celebrate Earth Day?
Here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we believe that we are stewards of nature, plants, and our lands, and that the individual responsibility lies with each of us. Our planet needs our help to thrive. Earth Day activities can range from river cleanups to removals of invasive plants. Learn more below.
The “green things growing” whisper me
Of many an earth-old mystery.
–Eben Eugene Rexford (1848–1916)
What Is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, when San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. Dealing with dangerously serious issues concerning toxic drinking water, air pollution, and the effects of pesticides, an impressive 20 million Americans — 10% of the population — ventured outdoors and protested together.
President Richard Nixon led the nation in creating the Environmental Protection Agency, which followed with successful laws including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
McConnell originally had chosen the spring equinox (March 20, 1970), but Nelson chose April 22, which ended up becoming the official celebration date. (Given that the date of the spring equinox changes over time, it may have made things more complicated to go with the astronomical event rather than just a calendar date.) Earth Day is always celebrated on April 22. It’s followed closely by Arbor Day, which falls on the last Friday in April.
Today, not only is Earth Day meant to increase awareness of environmental problems, but it is also becoming a popular time for many communities to gather together to clean up litter, plant trees, or simply reflect on the beauty of nature.
Earth Day Activities and Ideas
Celebrate Earth Day by appreciating and respecting the natural world. Here are some ideas to inspire you this year.
1. SUPPORT OUR POLLINATORS
Bring native bees and other pollinating creatures to your garden. One way to do this is by selecting the right plants this season with pollinator-friendly plants. Need ideas?
- Find a beauty or two from this list of plants that attract butterflies and plants that attract hummingbirds as well as flowers that attract pollinating bees.
- Learn more about native bees (the super-pollinators!) and make a native bee house (much like a bird house!).
- Here are more ways you can help pollinators in your backyard.
2. CLEAN UP PLASTIC IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR LOCAL PARK
One of the best ways to connect with Earth is through clean-ups. Go on a walk with a trash bag and help to clean up any plastic you find. Perhaps you know of a nearby ditch or drainage area around the corner that is polluted with trash. You’ll start to realize that plastic permeates every aspect of our lives. But as the world wakes up to its addiction, just how easy is it to ditch plastic while growing and storing more of our own food? Don’t forget to recycle what plastic you can. See a Plastics Recycling Chart.
3. PLANT A TREE
We love our trees! They capture carbon, cool overheated places, benefit agriculture, support pollinators, reduce the risk of disease transmission, and boost local economies. Did you know that planting one oak tree brings in more insect and bird species than an entire yard of plants? Talk to your local government about planting more trees and native garden beds in public spaces or consider planting your own on your property. See advice on how to plant a tree.
Another way to make a difference is to ditch printed seed or plant catalogs. When you receive an unwanted catalog in the mail (especially those huge ones!), contact the company and ask to be removed from their print list.
4. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE IN THE GARDEN
Caring about yourself and nature means being less wasteful and saving money, too. Who could argue with this? If you are a gardener, here are just a few ideas:
- Buy in bulk when you know that you’ll need a lot of topsoil, mulch, compost, or other materials. This cuts down on plastic bags. Many garden centers will even deliver right to your yard. Also check with your city recycling center or Department of Transportation — they might offer free compost, soil, sand, or other materials.
- Reuse, recycle, or return old plastic pots and trays. See six ways to reuse pots and containersand how to repurpose common household items to use in the garden—and save money!
5. STOP PESTICIDES AND CHEMICALS IN THE GARDEN
Most of the beginner gardeners we meet want to start growing without chemicals or pesticides — in a way that works and even saves money. Much of this is simply about focusing less on the plant and more on the health of the soil that supports the plant. If it’s nutrient-rich with organic matter, plants thrive.
- See how to use organic soil amendments to turn your poor garden soil into a nutrient-rich paradise in which plants will thrive.
- You don’t need chemicals to get rid of pesky garden pests: Companion planting, natural remedies, and attracting predators to your garden can save you money and also save your plants. See how to control pests in the organic garden.
- Some bugs are good for the garden! Here’s a list of some of the best beneficial insects to have in your gardening space, with pictures and tips for attracting them.
- It’s easy to use an organic plant fertilizer — made from just weeds and water. Does it sound strange to make plant fertilizer by using other plants? This is how nature works! Here’s a simple recipe for DIY organic fertilizer — without using chemicals or animal waste — right from your garden!
- Gardening and farming methods such as not tilling the soil, growing cover crops during the off-season, and rotating crops (and grazing) help to retain organic materials in the soil.
6. CONSERVE WATER IN THE GARDEN
We waste a lot of water. Avoid overwatering your plants and improve their health by knowing how much your garden really needs. Avoid watering your garden vegetables and plants from overhead, which invites fungal disease. Water at the soil level.
- See the top tips forwatering wisely in the garden or this video demonstrating 10 smart watering tips. For gardens, flower beds, trees, and other non-lawn areas, consider installing a drip irrigation system or hose with irrigation holes that puts the water right into the soil, where you want it. If you must use sprinklers, put them on timers.
- Harvest your rainwater from a roof, gutters, and sky with a rain barrel. If you have a low-lying area, consider planting a rain garden, which captures runoff, filters out pollutants, and provides food and shelter for butterflies, songbirds, and other wildlife. See plot plans for “sun” and “shade” rain gardens.
7. THINK ABOUT YOUR DIET
About one-third of the food we produce every year goes to waste annually! Usually, this happens after we buy the food. How do we avoid waste in our own lives (and save money)? Also, how can we improve our diet so that it’s healthier for ourselves (and the planet)? One way is to care about your “foodprint,” which is the result of everything that it takes to get your food from the farm to your plate. Take this fun 3-minute Foodprint Quiz to find out your foodprint.
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