Earth Day, observed annually since 1970 to show support for environmental protection, is on Thursday, April 22.
Amanda Gumbert, extension water specialist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, wrote an excellent piece in 2020 with ideas for celebrating Earth Day while socially distanced.
“Take some time to get out into nature, even if it’s just in your backyard,” she wrote. “Breathe in the fresh air, listen for birds, enjoy the many spring colors, and if you’re lucky enough to have a creek nearby, take a moment to appreciate the many benefits of clean water for both humans and wildlife.”
Here are several activities Gumbert suggested that still apply in 2021:
- Plant a garden. Try containers for small patios or yards. Include both vegetables and some flowers for cutting. Another option is to join in a local farm’s community supported agriculture program.
- Compost food scraps and yard waste, rather than sending them to the landfill. Before long a compost bin will provide rich, nutritious soil amendment for your garden.
- Follow the 3 Rs to keep as much as possible out of the landfill. They are:
- Reduce: Avoid using single-use, disposable items like paper plates, cups, napkins and utensils. “This is easier when eating most meals at home,” Gumbert said, “but try to create a new habit to avoid disposable items in the future. Also, avoid purchasing items with lots of packaging, which is usually wasted.”
- Reuse: Find new uses for household items or share them with a friend.
- Recycle: Look for opportunities to recycle items that can’t be reused or composted.
- Take care of water resources. Planting along a backyard stream or neighborhood pond or lake will help reduce erosion, protect water quality and improve the beauty of the landscape.
- Conserve water at home by taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet while brushing teeth.
- Conduct a family litter cleanup. Grab some trash bags, sturdy gloves and boots and pick up litter along nearby streets and roads. Litter can create hazards for livestock, wildlife and waterways.
- Save energy by turning out lights when leaving a room, unplug electronics when not in use, and switch to energy-efficient appliances when it’s time to replace old ones.
- Check out nonprofit organizations with eco-friendly missions and support them if possible. “This Earth Day may be different than previous ones, but if we all take little steps, we can still make a big impact in improving our environment,” Gumbert said.