This year's Earth Day theme is "Restore Our Earth." Its goal is to drive attention to the natural processes, green technologies, innovative thinking, and all that aims at restoring the world's ecosystems. The April 20th Earth Day celebration kicks off a decade that the United Nations has declared the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which will officially launch on the World Environment Day 2021 (June 5th).
The good news is, you don't have to be a part of any organization to get into the Earth Day spirit now and keep it going beyond just one decade. There are plenty of action steps everyone can take!
Check out our list of small and big ways each of us can make a positive impact on our planet:
✔️ Don't litter.
Teach your kids and, if you have to, friends and family to use trash cans.
Keep the parks, forests, and all outdoors' you visit clean and beautiful by carrying out the trash you carry in (even if there is no park ranger to watch you).
✔️ Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose.
Replace single-use items with reusable alternatives (buy canvas grocery bags, bring your own mug to the coffee shop). Remember that zero waste alternatives don't have to be Instagram-worthy! Old clothes can transform into rags; glass jars can turn into drinking glasses or storage containers; and so on. Try to repair any durable item before deciding to throw it away.
✔️ Shop Ethically.
Some parts of the ethical shopping movement seem to be rooted in privilege (high-end zero waste goods, slow fashion, organic food). Remember that true environmentalism is inclusive! As a consumer, you can choose what businesses to support. Shop with transparent companies. By investing even a dollar into the product, you indirectly condone the company's practices and values. And always think twice before you buy! Reducing consumption helps to save money and the planet.
✔️ Conserve natural resources.
Switch to energy-saving appliances if possible. Heat and cool only the areas you actually use. Rethink your garden/lawn care: try composting your food scraps into valuable supplies for your home garden; plant native wildflowers, fruit trees, and pollinator-friendly plants in your garden or yard. Use public transport, share a journey with friends (e.g., car-pooling), cycle, or walk when possible. And please recycle your recyclable waste! (yup, sometimes it's a royal pain, but worth the effort)
There is a myriad of resources to help you get deep into issues of sustainability. Here are a tiny bit of ideas to get you started!
✔️ Educate Yourself.
☛ The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Use this Carbon Footprint Calculator to see what's yours.
☛ Visit EarthDay.org and consider becoming a member. While on the site, check out upcoming virtual events, search for Earth Day 2021 events in your area, and get prepped for Earth Day Live, the three-day climate action event that will take place from April 20th - April 22nd.
☛ Learn about Intersectional Environmentalism, an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates protecting both people and the planet. It identifies how injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected.
✔️ Become an Activist.
Advocating for legislative changes that will help protect our planet can be as easy as signing an online petition. However, you can go further. Check out and join organizations like The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Conservation International to get started (there are dozens more). If you can, donate to environmental advocacy nonprofit organizations. Ultimately, these funds allow them to pursue the change we all want to see.
Fifty years ago, the first Earth Day started an environmental revolution. And now, every single one of us can be a part of the significant change. Remember, every recycled box, each properly disposed of face mask, any reused item matter. Let's make every day the Earth Day!