Originating in 1970, Earth day is the world's largest secular observance in the world. The first earth day was planned to be a nationwide school teach-in about our environment. The idea for such an event came from Wisconson Senator Gaylord Nelson, after visiting the site of the Santa Barabra Oil Spill. By 1990, earth day was a global event celebrated by 141 countries and almost 200 million people. Today, over a billion people every year recognize earth day and celebrate by taking action, large and small, towards creating a better and more sustainable environment.
Earth day is a wonderful reminder for education and action for our environment. Yet, we don't have to take action on just April 22nd. The Garden Gal has rounded up some of the best ways to celebrate this holiday and take action towards creating a more sustainable environment in your own backyard, on any day of the year.
The Garden Gal's 6 C's to Celebrate Earth Day
Rain Barrels: About 40% of total household water used in the summer months is to water our gardens and lawns. Rain barrels are one of the simplest and cheapest ways to conserve water, especially if you are an avid gardener. Rain barrels are exactly as they sound, there are giant barrels that are connected to the downspouts of your home. Instead of the rainwater running off your roof and into the ground the water is collected in the barrel. Hose spigots are attached to the barrel to make easy access to the water. Rainwater is free of chlorine, lime, and calcium which makes it better for watering lawns and gardens!
Drought-Tolerant Plants: Crafting a beautiful garden that will withstand the challenges of climate change can be tricky. Rising energy costs and concern for the environment can cause us to find any way to conserve water and energy in the garden! Using hardier plants that require less water can be a beautiful and intentional way to conserve. MSU shared an article on the best practices for drought-tolerant plants in Michigan. It's a great resource to get started!
Timers and Drip Lines for Watering: Drip irrigation allows you to add a precise amount of water exactly where you need it in your garden. Drip lines run along the base of the plants and slowly drip water over long periods of time to your garden. This saves time, money, and water in the long run. This along with a timer is the most effective and easiest way to water your garden.
Starting your compost bin: Compost is a super-easy way to reduce waste in landfills and add more nutrients to your garden. Finding the best compost system for your lifestyle is crucial. There are multiple ways to compost including turning units, heaps, worm composts.
A Garden for Bugs, Bees, Butterflies, and Birds: Create a garden that attracts one or a bunch of different pollinators. Pollinators are especially important for our food production and farms. All fruit trees and small fruits that are grown in Michigan rely on animal pollinators for production. Native plants for your area are some of the best for pollinator gardens as they support your native bee and wild pollinators. These are especially important in our neighborhoods and urban spaces. Pollinators traveling from one habitat to another often need stops to be able to "refuel". With large urban areas that have destroyed these habitats, there is a lack of connectivity between habitats for pollinators. Creating naturalized garden space around your home can help reestablish this connectivity and make for a beautiful garden to enjoy.
Eco Crafts: Finding fun ways to educate the kids about the environment is important when it comes to building a sustainable lifestyle. Creating and crafting can be some of the most important learning opportunities for you and your kids. Crafts can range from making bird feeders, nature scavenger hunts, using repurposed and recycled materials to make wind chimes, and even making "cups-of-dirts" (pudding, oreo, and gummy worm cups) while talking about the importance of worms in our environment.
Reuseable Products: There are many single-use products that can be replaced by making reuseable products at home. One of my favorite ideas is beeswax wraps to replace plastic wrap or tin foil! Other ideas are a cotton face pad out of old washcloths, crocheted sponges, or homemade coffee sugar scrubs in reusable jars, etc.
There are endless ideas on the infamous Pinterest! Take a moment to plan a craft, it will be amazing for yourself and the planet.
Non-toxic concentrates: Using natural non-toxic concentrates helps eliminate waste from cleaners that are harmful and mostly water. Instead of buying multiple cleaners that are in different plastic bottles. You can get one concentrate that when mixed with water and essential oils can make for wonderful and effective cleaners. Essential oils provide cleansing and purifying benefits while leaving behind natural and soothing aromas. A lot of non-toxic cleaners can be DIY from common household items like vinegar!
One Action at a Time: Take it one action at a time. Create a green habit. Commit to doing something daily, weekly or monthly. Commit to composting or saving up for a rain barrel, use reuseable bags at the grocery store, join your community garden, shop local, and at farmers markets this summer. You can take a trash bag every time you walk the dog and pick up litter along the way. Plant a tree. It can be big or small. The more habits that we create that take stress off of our environment the closer we are to a happier planet.
Write your commitment down and visit earthday.org to find acts of green near you.