Happy Earth Day! …a celebration, a 40 year tradition and, of course, capitalism

It’s a rainy Earth Day in Chicago so our celebrations may have to get creative. What are you planning? The EarthDay.org website can give you ideas and you can sign up for their “A Billion Acts of Green” campaign.

Lots of companies are capitalizing on the Day, of course. People will be burning a little extra gas today to get to Starbucks or Caribou for free coffee. One of the more beneficial giveaways, perhaps, is the million trees that Lowe’s is giving away tomorrow 4/23. What’s even better? Buying a native tree from a local nursery, perhaps. Or, walking to a neighborhood coffee shop that serves locally roasted, fair-trade, organic coffees and teas.

Speaking of Fair Trade, May 14th is World Fair Trade day. In Chicago, World Fair Trade week will be kicked off on May 4th with a celebration in Daley Plaza.

Here are a few other small ideas you can do right away to celebrate Spring and Earth Day:

  • Spread some natural fibers in your yard for bird’s to build nests: try rafia, shreds of cotton, straw, small sticks, shredded paper, etc.
  • Set up your kitchen/home to be more recycling friendly and learn some convenient recycling locations. Most grocery stores now have plastic bag, light bulb and battery recycling bins. Consider composting to reduce garbage bag usage and landfill space.
  • Plant native annuals & perennials this year. They will attract native birds, bees, and butterflies. Contact your local extension office to get a list of native plants and where to get them. Don’t have a yard or garden? That’s ok, recycle a container and fill it with flowers: a coffee can, an old boot, a plastic bag, a colander, get creative- if it holds soil, it’s a planter!
  • When planting this year, choose coconut coir, now widely available in garden stores, over sphaghum/peat. Peat bogs are dwindling precious resources whereas shredded coconut is bountiful. Just add perlite to help the coir drain well and keep plant roots happy.
  • Make “seed bombs” with native plant seeds and go do some “planting” guerrilla syle! Recipes for seed bombs are plentiful online.
  • Make a small donation to an environmental cause of your choice. Use the fantastic Charity Navigator tool to locate a top rated charity so your money makes the biggest impact.
  • Do a walk-through of your house with a bag in hand- fill it up with stuff you just don’t need and donate it to a local charity store. Keeping used items in circulation will help keep newly manufactured items out.
  • Pick up trash outside. I guarantee you’ll see some, so keep a bag and gloves handy. It’s a dirty job that feels great.
  • Start using cloths/rags for cleaning rather than paper towels. Paper towels are a HUGE and expensive waste. Buy a dozen or two unbleached cloths and use them for months. Wash them in oxy-cleaner rather than bleach.
  • Teach something to kids: take them to a natural history museum, let them pick out an environmental activity book, visit a greenhouse conservatory, rent a documentary and eat organic snacks, let them pick out a reusable stainless steel water bottle, pick out a never-before-tried unusual fruit or veggie from the grocery store and then research it online- pique their curiosity about nature and growing.
  • Make a commitment to not forget Earth Day tomorrow and next month and the middle of the winter.

These are small gestures of involvement but by no means enough. We all have a responsibility to stay educated, stay active, and be personally responsible for how our choices affect the Earth.

One response to “Happy Earth Day! …a celebration, a 40 year tradition and, of course, capitalism

  1. I like your suggestion that we not forget Earth Day tomorrow. The Earth and its gifts touch us in almost every area of our lives. Somewhere along the line we lost touch…let’s hope we can connect again.

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