How to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day takes place on April 22nd, so it’s a busy time for environmental groups like PERC. However, if you’re not in the environmental sector, it might seem like an odd date to commemorate. Isn’t it just a made-up holiday?earth-day

Well, in some sense, all holidays are made up, so there’s no reason to be a snob about Earth Day. Even Christmas, with it’s tie-in to the winter solstice, is mostly made up if you think about it: nothing about the days getting longer again implies we should definitely decorate evergreens in our homes, but we do. Holidays are meaningful and, generally, fun – I say let’s celebrate as many as we can.

Earth Day started officially in 1970 in the United States, so it’s been around longer than I personally have (although PERC is so fortunate to have many long-term volunteers that predate this! So much respect!). It’s often described as the start of the modern environmental movement, and its creation was shortly followed by historic environmental legislation in the US.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you how important the Earth is. I know Mars gets a lot of news coverage, but it’s actually really hard to get there and not die when you do, so for now we’ve just got Earth. It’s done a pretty good job of keeping humanity alive for a

mars
Nothing against Mars. It’s pretty great too. But for now we’ve just got Earth, so we’re trying not to mess it up too much.

while now – so it’s only in our best interests to return the favour. Assuming I’ve convinced you that Earth Day is worth noting, you may be wondering what to do. After all, it’s not like we have a ritual tree decorating ceremony to go with it- at least not yet. Well, here’s a few suggestions;

Attend an event!

The Old Home Earth Day Event, previously featured in this space, is being put on at the Glebe Community Centre on April 21st. If you live in an older home and need some guidance to make it more energy efficient, this is a great place to start. It’s where PERC will be, so come on down and say hi.

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Older homes, DIY fix-it projects, and government rebate programs not your thing? No problem. Many groups are holding Earth Day events on April 21-22 all around Ottawa – we’ll be sharing many on our social media, so follow @perc_ott on Twitter or type our name into the search bar on Facebook.

Watch a Documentary

There are so many good documentaries out there (there are some bad ones too, so use those critical thinking skills the Skeptical Hippie has been teaching us in recent PEN editions). Top suggestions include An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow-up to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth: Who Killed the Electric Car (older now, but still good), Plastic Ocean (see our review!), Tiny, or any of the excellent nature series narrated by Sir David Attenborough on Netflix, such as Blue Planet, Planet Earth, etc.

Give Yourself (or Someone Else) an Eco-Friendly Gift

Had your eye on a particular travel mug or fancy water bottle? Commit to actually using it for a certain length of time, and go ahead and treat yourself. See how many drive-thru trips or disposable bottles you can cut out with it. Plant a tree in someone’s honour through a group like Tree Canada. Pick up some insulating curtains for that relative who’s always complaining about drafts. Hit up Pinterest for eco-friendly DIYs and make it special by making it handmade.

Donate, or Volunteer

Pick a favourite cause. What’s your favourite endangered animal? Most have dedicated charities working towards their conservation. Polar Bears, Monarch Butterflies, Sea Turtles, Tigers, Elephants, Whales….the list goes on. Or maybe it’s an issue – like pollution in the ocean, or deforestation, that really gets you going. Consider it a present to yourself to do something to help this cause you care about and make a donation, or ask about volunteer opportunities. Unsure what to do? Obviously we’re always happy to get donations and volunteers at PERC, or connect you to partner groups working on what you’re excited about. Give us a shout

Microloans

Similar to the previous two suggestions, services such as Kiva make it easy to support sustainability projects around the world by providing micro loans to individuals and small groups. For as little as $25, you can help farmers in South America grow food more sustainably, help entrepreneurs in Africa get solar electricity into homes and schools, or help other novel projects all around the world. Kiva lets you search specifically for Green projects (or conflict zone projects, helping provide a stabilizing influence), and also lets you pick the area or demographic you want to help. Best of all, micro-loans eventually get repaid – so you can help people over and over again with the same chunk of cash.

earthday2015

Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas of meaningful, fun, or educational ways to celebrate Earth Day. Of course, most of these things don’t need to be done around April 22nd, and there are lots of other ways to celebrate the Earth and the amazing diversity of life we share it with. If you feel like it, let us know what you did! We’d love to hear your story.

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