Each year, residents around the globe celebrate Earth Day on April 22 to demonstrate support for the environment. And while this year’s celebration may look different because of the coronavirus pandemic, our planet certainly deserves to have its day.
“On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, I think we are reminded that we all have a role to play in taking care of this precious habitat we call home,” said Melissa Burlingame, assistant director of the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy.
Typically, NIU’s Outdoor Adventures would host a large Earth Day event on campus near the East Lagoon to encourage Huskies to get outside and do something to care for the environment.
“We would clean up the lagoon, picking up trash and general beautification, and then set up some hammocks in the trees and acknowledge our effort to enhance the subtle beauty of nature,” said Dan Dunne, graduate assistant of Outdoor Adventures. “This year, we sadly can’t do this due to physical distancing.”
While students, faculty and staff are working and learning away from campus, it’s important to celebrate Earth Day in a different way.
“Get outside: walking, hiking, biking or doing anything to explore and appreciate the planet we are lucky enough to be buying time on,” Dunne said. “Additionally, we ask earth-appreciators that when they are enjoying the outdoors, take a trash bag and help pick up after those more sloppy planet-mates that we cohabitate Earth with.”
Earth Day events don’t need to be grandiose to be meaningful, and even small actions can make a big difference.
“There is a healing power in nature,” said associate professor Holly Jones, who holds a joint appointment at NIU with the Department of Biological Sciences and the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy. “As I see more and more of my neighbors outside, on walks, jogging, and getting fresh air, I hope that the fundamental permanent changes that result from this include people being more connected to nature.”
Dunne shared the sentiment.
“We are all connected and we all need to protect and care for this place,” Dunne said.
If you aren’t sure how to celebrate or contribute to Earth Day 2020, we have some ideas to help you get started.
Go a day without throwing anything away.
Use a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic disposable water bottle. Recycle your papers and plastics and try to compost your food garbage.
Help spread awareness.
Use social media to post something about Earth Day and its importance. Make a sign or draw a picture celebrating Earth Day and post it in your window or on your door to encourage others.
Help the environment.
If you can, plant a tree or a garden. If that’s not possible, simply pick up trash in your area. Every little bit counts!
Make one small change.
Turn off the lights in your house or apartment when you leave a room. Don’t run the water when brushing your teeth or consider shortening your shower by five minutes.
Go to earthday.org to learn more.