{GUEST POST} Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day


Did you know that April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day?! For many of us, the day slips by year after year, barely registering on our radar. We might see a post from a friend about attending a beach cleanup or how much they love Mother Earth but most of us just go about doing what we normally do—drive to school or work, do some errands, make dinner, and repeat. Why not make this year count a little more? But, wait—we’re socially distancing right now!

How do we celebrate Earth Day when we aren’t going anywhere?! 

(Side note: San Diego’s big EarthFair event, held at Balboa Park, has been moved to Sunday, September 13, 2020.)

Not to worry! This year, as we socially distance ourselves from our friends, family, and community, we will be celebrating Earth Day a little differently. To curb the spread of the COVID-19, Earth Day has gone virtual. Joining the virtual movement is easy (and probably greener, too!) First, let’s have a refresher on what Earth Day is and why it’s important for us to keep it around.

In 1970, the first Earth Day was a nationwide event that united multiple environmental concerns—such as oil spills, air pollution, water contamination, and the loss of habitat—under one movement. This monumental event eventually led to the adoption of the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973). 

As a mom, you do everything you can to keep your kids safe and healthy. Some of you might also practice green habits such as limiting harsh chemicals in your house and buying locally farmed produce. Showing your support for Earth Day, and for the Earth in general, is like doing that on a larger scale—it tells your community and national leaders that all kids deserve a clean, healthy world to live in. 

(Photo: Playing outside on a clear day. Thanks, Clean Air Act (and rain)!)

The biggest Earth Day celebration, organized by the Earth Day Network, will be celebrated virtually with the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EARTHRISE. Live coverage of digital mobilizations will be shared across their social media platforms (@earthdaynetwork). They will also have digital events and teach-ins on their website: earthday.org. On their website, you can even commit yourself or your family to “take an act of green” such as getting your school involved in keeping the Earth a priority. This might be a better alternative for younger kids who aren’t as interested in watching the online teach-ins.
Another organization, the Earth Day Initiative, will also feature a virtual Earth Day celebration with online events featuring speakers, exhibits, and scientists.

Celebrate Earth Day at Home

(Photo: Monster truck rally in our future garden site!)

There are countless Earth Day activities to do at home, depending on the age of your kids and the amount of time you have. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Make “Earth Day Resolutions!” As we hear all the time, “Earth Day is every day,” so, why not come up with a resolution with your family that you can practice every day? Some ideas:

  • Save and recycle your plastic bags by dropping them off at Target or another chain store that collects them.
  • Start a monthly donation to an environmental non-profit of your choice. This could be as little as $5/month and is an easy way to contribute to the environmental fight if you are short on time.
  • If you have older kids, you can set aside one Saturday every month to volunteer with a local nonprofit that does native habitat restoration or beach cleanups.
  • Start a compost bin. Many cities have workshops and information about how to start a DIY compost bin in your yard. Even little kids can enjoy throwing food (into a pile)! 
  • Go native! Native plants in your backyard support native species of insects and animals. Check out the San Diego chapter of the California Native Plant Society for information on what to plant in your area.
  • Teach your kids to love nature! Make bingo cards to take to a park or other outdoor space.
  • Depending on how old your kids are, each square can be easy (“find some green leaves”) or more challenging (“find a bug with 6 legs” or “find some butterfly milkweed”). You can do some research beforehand to see what might be growing in the area.
  • Do it for the birds! San Diego County has a diverse bird population, so install bird feeders and houses in your yard to give kids an opportunity to see who might show up.
  • Do nothing! Pick one evening a week to use fewer resources. Don’t drive anywhere, don’t run the dishwasher, don’t watch TV. Have a vegetarian dinner, take a walk around the neighborhood, and play board games with your kids. You can talk to them about why you are doing this and why the Earth is important to protect.

Do you have other events or favorite activities to do in support of our planet? Please share them below!

Links and Additional Resources

EarthFair  & The History of Earth Day

California Native Plant Society of San Diego
San Diego River Park Foundation
I Love a Clean San Diego
San Diego Coastkeeper
Surfrider Foundation
Native Gardens: California Native Plant Society of San Diego

About the Author:

Leah Boyer lives in the hidden gem of La Mesa, where she takes care of her two children with her husband and writes about nature, the environment, and eco-parenting. She and her husband moved to San Diego after 10 years in Long Beach, where she worked as a program manager for Food Forward, an LA-based nonprofit food recovery organization. In the little free time she has, you can find her enjoying the outdoors and dreaming about future travels. You can follow her blog at leahabbey.com.



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