The 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year on April 22 will resemble nothing like the previous 49, as many Americans remain at home for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But time at home doesn’t have to be wasted. Whether a few minutes or a few hours, this year’s Earth Day offers a great opportunity to develop habits for a better tomorrow.
To help, Volkswagen compiled these 20 ideas for those looking to celebrate without leaving their homes.
- Pick up your neighborhood. Get your essential exercise by bringing a trash bag and some gloves on your next walk outside. If you’re with your family, see who can pick up the most trash.
- Clean smart. Many common ingredients in your pantry, like baking soda and vinegar, double as effective and affordable cleaning products, and people can create their own cleaners with just a few household items.
- Add plants to your home. Indoor plants can make your space feel fresher and homier.
- Start composting. Instead of throwing away food scraps like banana peels, create your own compost bin. Whether you live in a house or a small apartment, even a small composting vessel can be useful.
- Upcycle. While going through your old clothes or household items, determine the best way to give the items a new life (e.g., make face masks using old T-shirts) to eliminate waste and clutter.
- Learn the proper ways to recycle everyday objects. Learn what types of items are recyclable by visiting your local municipality’s website.
- Reduce meat consumption. Dedicate one or two days per week to eating meatless meals and use these days as opportunities to try new recipes while spending time at home.
- Consider going electric in your yard. Much like electric cars, electric lawnmowers and other implements do not produce direct emissions, in contrast to traditional gas-powered models. If it’s not in your budget, mow a bit less and mulch your clippings – the extra growth can make your yard healthier.
- Prepare new plant-based meals. Spice up your cooking by incorporating plant-based items like lentils, beans or tofu as the main protein source.
- Wash your clothes in cold water, then hang-dry them. Around 90% of the energy used to wash clothes comes from heating water, so switch the machine to cold when possible. Air drying clothes is free and energy-friendly, so use a drying rack or clothesline for a zero-emission alternative to a dryer.
- Minimize single-use items where possible. Purchase storage containers and beeswax wrap instead of using plastic baggies or plastic wrap.
- Invest in brands that are taking action. Take some time to research your favorite brands to understand how their practices impact the planet, as well as looking into other companies to see if any are supporting causes that you care about.
- Enjoy the longer days. Only turn on lights when you need to; otherwise, enjoy the natural sunlight. Set up your working space near a window for extra light and pleasant views.
- Watch a nature show or documentary. Cozy up with the family, throw on a program and educate yourself about some of the planet’s most pressing environmental issues.
- Donate to a local community garden or environmentally focused non-profit. Local organizations help connect neighbors, promote nutrition and empower people who often feel like they don’t have power over their food choices. Donate money to help these urban oases flourish and continue to support your local community.
- Embark on a nature-inspired DIY project. Browse the internet and be inspired – bring the outdoors inside with crafts that use nature as your medium.
- Tend to your home garden. If you need supplies, many garden centers, nurseries and small growers are open for business and rapidly adapting to meet customer concerns and safety restrictions.
- Go on an outdoor walk. Enjoy the warming spring weather while exercising and practicing proper social distancing.
- Speak up for the planet online. The Earth Day Network is asking activists to share climate- and earth-related news on their social channels with the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EarthRise.
- Tune in to the virtual Earth Day@50 conference. The Nelson Institute, a leader in environmental research, was scheduled to host a 50th anniversary Earth Day Conference, entitled “Earth Day@50: Aspiring for sustainability, striving for justice, crafting the planet.” In response to COVID-19, the conference has been moved online, but the webinars, pre-recorded sessions and interactive discussions can all be streamed for free.