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Here’s what you can do instead

I’m pretty sure I was born ten years late. My heart belongs to the 60’s right along with my bare feet, my love of classic rock music, Mother Earth news, backyard chickens and my love of the planet. So, Earth Day, as you can imagine, is one of my favorite times of year.

Earth Day has a fascinating history. It began in 1970 (I was -2 years old) as a student protest against toxic waste and air pollution, caught the attention of the public, and resulted in important eco-friendly legislation. Now Earth Day has come full circle with a student-led resurgence against climate change that is catching the public’s attention and resulting in eco-friendly political action, like the Paris Agreement. Earth Day today is 1 billion people strong and boasts celebrations in over 190 countries.

Our town puts on a doozy. One of the largest city parks seems to pop up overnight with tents and vendors like so many eager tulips on a spring morning. Over there a vendor is giving out free saplings next to growers signing people up for this year’s CSA. Here you can learn about a rebate program for solar panels, or sign a petition, or purchase reusable grocery bags. Everyone seems to have a friendly dog pulling on the leash, guided by an anxious nose. The grass feels warm and soft under my bare feet, and my neo-hippie bones love to groove to the live classic rock cover band. It’s a wonderful gathering of like-minded people, an inspiring pulse to live greener, a feeling of hope maybe we human beings–despite actions to the contrary–really can keep the planet around for another few generations.

But this year, our city Earth Day festival is watered-down to a do-it-yourself trash pick up day. Bring in a bag of trash you’ve collected from [insert wherever you’ve found trash], drop it off at the Devil’s Kitchen restaurant, and get an appetizer. It’s a great gesture, Devil’s Kitchen, but, arg. No CSA sign-ups. No trees to plant. No bare feet! The inspiring pulse feels faint.

If there’s one thing COVID has taught us over the past year, it’s that, in the absence of crowd energy, we must look doubly-hard to the inspiration lying within. The pulse to live greener must come from within, in the small ordinary ways perhaps seen only to us. Then, we go online to share.

So here’s how to tap into the inspiring Earth Day pulse, both within you and online:

  • Find your local farmers. They need you. Famers are too busy feeding chickens and raising lettuce plants to fool with social media, so without your local Earth Day festival, they’re having a hard time connecting with you. This Earth Day, check online for your local CSA opportunities and make plans now to fit the extra trip into your spring and summer routine. Patronizing small and local farms makes a big difference. Produce from small, local farms tends to be more nutritious and more flavorful. There is far less packaging and transportation involved, so it’s healthier for the planet. Smaller farms have an easier time going organic and treating their animals respectfully. Leftover produce is usually donated to local food banks, so it’s a real win for everyone. 
  • You know those garden chores you always say you’ll get around to? April 22 is your day. It’s your day to hit the garden center, get your soil, and plant containers and beds with starts of flowers and veggies. A few starts in a pot make a lovely gift for a shut-in neighbor. Let your kids pick out their very own plants to care for this year. Grow cutting flowers (it’s not hard), and you’ll always have a nice, last-minute, eco-friendly gift to give. Share your garden photos with us here at Pro-Tek and on your social media.
  • Ride your bike. Even if you have an electric car, take April 22 to subtract two wheels and add two legs. From my bike, I can smell all the spring fragrances in the air, and at slower speeds I have a chance to appreciate details I otherwise miss, like new family of ducks in the pond, the smell of a backyard grill out, a starling nesting in a carport, or the Christmas lights those oddballs won’t take down. There’s a sense of community with other folks riding the trails, and that feels especially good during these crazy COVID times. April 22 is a great day to get online and discover the bike trails you have in your community–and ride them. Will you share your bike day photos with us?
  • Take stock of your eco-friendly habits without guilt. Katherine Martinko’s funny and clever advice is to be better, not perfect. Adopt small eco-freindly habits you can live with, like swapping out wax paper bags for plastic sandwich bags, or glass food storage containers for plastic ones. (I’m a big fan of saving jars and using them for leftovers.) Is there a place in your yard for a compost pile? Vow to ask your server for tin foil to wrap your leftovers and forgo that awful foam box. What better-not-perfect changes will you pledge to make? Let us know and share your pledges on social media.
  • Earth Day Picnic. Kicking my shoes off at the park and picnicking with my family is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon–and this Earth Day there will be plenty of room at the park! Instead of plastic forks and paper plates, I hit the Goodwill for inexpensive stainless steel flatware, punch glasses, and mismatched plates. Yes, it’s a little bit heavy to carry, but it’s far less trash and makes for a whimsical table. And if anything gets lost or broken, oh well. Always more at the Goodwill.
  • Special Earth Day treat! Calling all sky geeks! The Lyrid meteor shower peaks in the wee hours of Earth Day morning! If you’re not privy to dark sky in your community, pack coffee in your reusable Thermous and wrap an egg sandwich in wax paper bag for your drive out to the country. There is hardly a better way to spend the morning than making wishes on shooting stars. 
  • Tune in Earth Day 2021 Online. If you’re like me, you’re sick of online events, but I’ll be the first one to admit Earth Day Online is pretty cool: it’s a three day, action-packed lineup of speakers, videos, and activities on the theme, Restore our Earth. You have to register, so click on the link.

How are YOU celebrating Earth Day? Is your town alternative activities, or are you doing your own thing? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Be an Earth Day hero. Buy any gallon eco-friendly Pro-Tek cleaner and a second for 50% off! Hurry! Offer ends midnight on April 19.