5 Ways to Make This Earth Day Really Count

Organize a park cleanup, support our national parks, or join a local group of fellow environmentalists.

Like a lot of people, you may be thinking about how you want to show up for the planet and your community as Earth Day approaches. After all, the stakes seem higher than ever for our clean energy future, the air we breathe and water we drink, our public lands, and our endangered species. But the grassroots environmental movement is energized, and every action each of us takes to honor the planet matters. Here are a few effective—and fun—ways to make a difference this year.

Organize a Cleanup

You can’t clean up the entire planet, but you can beautify a pocket of your neighborhood. Round up a group of like-minded friends and relatives to pick up trash at a local park or beach or along a popular hiking trail. Chores are always more fun when they become games, so have everyone bring along a reusable bag—you’ll sort the trash from the recyclables at the end—and compete to see who can pick up the most litter. (Bonus points for offering sustainable prizes to the winners.) The cleanup will be a good chance to give something back to your community and an opportunity to show younger participants the importance of reducing waste. It will also be a reminder to everyone just how quickly seemingly small bits of trash, like bottle caps or candy wrappers, add up.

Start a Compost Bin, or Pledge to Start Sending Your Food Scraps to a Community Composting Program

Many people don’t know that the organic food scraps we toss out release methane, a detrimental greenhouse gas, as they decay in the landfill. Earth Day is a great time to start cutting down on how much food you throw out by taking up composting. Composting promotes a circular food system that transforms scraps (and other organic materials, like paper towels) into regenerative and healthy soil.

Making a compost pile in your yard or in an outdoor or indoor bin is easier than you think. You might also be able to find a compost drop-off point for certain food scraps at your local community garden or farmer’s market (just store scraps in the freezer until you’re ready to deliver them). Some big cities also collect organic material as part of the normal scheduled trash pickup. Since food waste makes up a hefty chunk of residential garbage, adopting any of these changes in your routine will help you do your part to fight climate change.

Visit Your Nearest National Park or Monument

A trip to a national park or monument on Earth Day does more than just reconnect you to nature—it also supports our precious federal lands and waters, natural systems that are central to America’s diverse cultures and natural beauty, vital to wildlife, and key to mitigating the impacts of climate change. By spending Earth Day hiking in a national park, you are showing that the public values these sacred spaces. Through the visitor’s fee, you are also helping to fund them for the next generation of nature lovers.

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Find an Earth Day Festival

The road of environmental advocacy is long, which is why it’s important to remind yourself that you are not alone in this fight. Attending an Earth Day gathering will allow you not only to connect with other activists but to also build momentum to make planet-friendly changes in your community. It’s also likely to be an instant mood booster. Consult the website of your local parks department or your neighborhood’s sustainability committee, or search on Eventbrite or social media channels to find out what’s happening nearby. When you’re out celebrating, be sure to put your name on the mailing list of one of the participating environmental organizations, or exchange contact information with fellow attendees. Remember, joining forces and combining talents is the only way we’ll be effective enough to meet our clean-future goals.

​​Join Something Local

We know you’re already a dedicated NRDC member, but joining at least one other local or regional environmental group means you can have a critical impact on the issues close to home. In fact, our grassroots partners drove some major wins in recent months—helping to stop a notorious metal shredder from moving to Chicago’s Southeast Side, secure safe drinking water for families in Newark, and block the Keystone XL pipeline. Check out free match services online that can help you decide where to volunteer and choose something close to your heart, whether it’s helping to green your school district or joining a campaign to fight an industrial polluter. Then commit to showing up for that community or organization, even in small ways.

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