April 22 marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. Every year, more than 1 billion people across 192 countries are expected to participate in activities that address climate change and promote sustainability. Many of this year’s events are virtual, meaning that you can get involved from the comfort of your home. Here are 9 ways that you can celebrate Earth Day in 2021.
- Watch the Earth Day 2021 Livestream
The second annual Earth Day digital livestream will be held today, with a number of workshops, panel discussions and special performances lined up. Viewers will hear from world climate leaders, grassroots activists, thought leaders, musicians and more. Speakers include young climate activist Greta Thunberg, EPA administrator Michael Regan, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and even Pope Francis. The event starts at noon EDT.
You can find other events being held around the world on the official Earth Day website.
- Leaders Summit on Climate
On April 22 and 23, US President Joe Biden will host around 40 world leaders for a Leaders Summit on Climate. On the agenda include questions of how to reduce emissions and achieve net-zero economies. Biden is also expected to announce the US’ updated NDCs under the Paris Agreement.
You can watch the summit via a livestream link here.
- Make Smart Purchasing Choices
It’s easy to think that there’s nothing that consumers can do to address climate change, but our purchasing power is stronger than a lot of people think. There are very easy shopping choices that you can make that will have a more positive impact on the planet. For example, foregoing plastic bags for reusable ones, buying less clothes (or buying clothes made of more sustainable materials, like linen, or buying second hand clothes from thrift shops) and using a refillable water bottle. When you think that it takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil to meet the demand of US water bottle manufacturing and that there are over two million tons of water bottles in US landfills, you realise that your choices have a significant impact on the environment.
- Buy Produce From Your Local Farmer’s Market
Besides supporting small local businesses, you’ll also be helping the planet by buying your produce local. Shipping food to grocery stores uses immense amounts of energy in terms of production and transportation, and buying locally reduces the carbon emissions associated with this.
- Forego Cars
Find transportation alternatives that will help reduce your carbon footprint but still get you where you need to go. Emissions from the transport sector are a major contributor to climate change- about 14% of annual emissions (including non-CO2 gases) and around a quarter of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Ride your bike, take a walk or even use public transport to reduce the number of cars on the road. As a result of COVID-19, many cities around the world are making it easier to commute with bikes, like creating bike paths.
- Virtual 5km Race
Whether you’re a runner or a walker, WE ACT for Environmental Justice in the US is holding a virtual 5km race, where participants will be encouraged to walk or run 5km during the week of Earth Day 2021, April 17th through April 25th. You can use the race to raise money for WE ACT- or not- but all registered participants are asked to donate either a set amount or an amount of their own choosing.
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- Plant Something
“Urban heat islands” occur when cities replace natural land cover with dense concentrations of pavement, buildings and other surfaces that absorb and retain heat. This effect increases energy costs (e.g., for air conditioning), air pollution levels, and heat-related illness and deaths. To counter this, we need to incorporate green infrastructure improvements into city planning, by planting trees and other vegetation. You can go small- by planting a tree in your back yard- or bigger, by joining a community initiative that plants trees in urban areas (COVID-19-permitting, of course).
- Donate to Reforestation Efforts
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, about 8 million acres of forest are lost every year. To help this, donations can be made to the Earth Day Canopy Project, which promises to plant one tree for every dollar donated.
Companies can also rethink their approach to gifting. Instead of branded mugs and T-shirts, they can start planting trees, or outsource this to a company that specialises in this. EcoMatcher in Hong Kong allows organisations to “gift” their employees trees. EcoMatcher works with a number of tree-planting organisations around the world to plant trees in the individual’s name, and using an app, they can stay up to date with the progress of their tree.
- Keep the Conversation Going
Check out some of the great climate activist organisations, like Sunrise Movement, Zero Hour, Extinction Rebellion and Fridays For Future. See how you can volunteer with them and participate in the initiatives they’re working on.