Celebrating Earth Day

Originally Published on March 15, 2021. Last Updated on March 7, 2024.

The Best Earth Day Activity and Info Guide

Earth Day is about protecting our planet and the lives it supports. So let’s turn words into actions and do our part to keep our big blue home healthy and safe for future generations. 

Whether you’re testing the waters of sustainable living or seeking new ideas to add to your repertoire, you’ll find something valuable here. Discover DIY projects, kids’ crafts, recycling tips, and Earth Day history in this comprehensive guide.

Jump to Section

Earth Day Activities
Eco-Friendly Crafts
Recycling Tips and Planet-Friendly Practices
The Benefits of Recycling
The History of Earth Day

Earth Day Activities

Give back to our planet with these fun and eco-conscious activities.

1. Join a Community Cleanup

Get into environmental stewardship by volunteering with a community cleanup at your local park or watershed. This hands-on activity gets you outside and serves as a reminder of why we need to take care of our home.

Cleanups are held all over the United States throughout Earth Month (every April), so you’ll definitely find one nearby. If not, be the change and start a cleanup event in your city.

2. Try Forest Bathing

Celebrate Earth Day with a bit of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, a Japanese practice with science-backed health benefits. All you have to do is go for a nature walk at a local park or forest preserve and allow yourself to fully enjoy the experience—or bathe in it. This means leaving work and worries at home and putting your cell phone on silent.

3. Plan a Backyard Campout

Create great memories with friends and family by taking a backyard camping trip. It’s inexpensive, fun, and a good way to turn the Leave No Trace Principles into healthy habits you can use for future outdoor adventures.

Eco-Friendly Crafts

Upcycle household items with planet-friendly projects.

4. Sustainable Succulent Planters

Here’s an easy DIY project that turns pre-loved pots into pretty succulent displays.

Supplies Needed

  • Small ceramic pots or mugs
  • Masking tape
  • Power drill
  • Masonry bit
  • Small stones or pebbles
  • Cactus blend potting mix
  • Succulents
  • Water


Step 1: Browse your local thrift store or the back of your cupboard to find items you can upcycle into planters. 

Step 2: Stick strips of tape on the bottom of each pot to mark drainage holes.

Step 3: Working at medium speed, drill through the taped spots. Press firmly just to get the hole started, then lighten up as the drill pushes through the material.

Step 3: Layer the bottom of each container with a few stones and top with potting mix.

Step 4: Place your succulents on top and surround them with more potting mix.

Step 5: Water your freshly potted succulents just until the soil is wet.

Use terra-cotta or glazed ceramic containers. Don’t use glass containers for planting as they restrict airflow, increasing the risk of overwatering.

5. DIY Milk Jug Watering Can

This easy Earth Day activity gives plastic milk jugs a second chance to be useful. All you need is an empty milk jug with a cap, a needle, and a lighter. Slightly heat the lid with the lighter to soften the plastic, then poke holes in it with the needle. After that, fill the jug with water, cap it, and give your garden a drink.

6. Get Creative with Cardboard Rolls

Recycling empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls is always a good idea, but you can also put them to use around your house. Here are some resourceful ways to reuse these rolls.

  • DIY bird feeder: Spread peanut butter all over the outside of the roll, sprinkle with birdseed, and hang it in your backyard.
  • DIY seed pots: Cut rolls into two-inch sections and make four equidistant half-inch cuts on one side. Fold the flaps over on each other, as shown in the image above. Bonus: You can plant them in the ground with the seedling when it’s ready.
  • Compost: Cut or tear rolls into small pieces and feed them to your compost pile.
  • Napkin rings: Use paper edger scissors to cut out rings with fancy borders, and let the kids doctorate them with crayons or markers.
  • Owl craft: Fold in two sides of the roll at one end and secure with glue. Add googly eyes, a yellow paper triangle for the beak, and pipe cleaner feathers. Voilà—a paper t’owl.
  • Crease-free clothes hanger: Slice a paper towel tube down the middle and cover the long end of a hanger to keep creases out of pants.
  • DIY organizer: Fit a bunch of toilet paper rolls into a small shoe box facing up and use it to hold pens, markers, and other small items. 

7. Paper Plate Earth Craft

Turn extra paper plates into a teaching moment with this easy activity. 

Supplies needed

  • Paper plates
  • Green and blue crepe paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue


Step 1: Cut the crepe paper into squares.

Step 2: To make the oceans, glue the blue squares all over one side of the plate.

Step 3: Glue the green pieces over the top in sections to create the continents.

Step 4: Once the glue is dry, put your child’s creation on the fridge so everyone can admire it.

Recycling Tips and Planet-Friendly Practices

8. Start a Compost Bin

Composting is the natural decomposition of food and yard waste, which results in nutrient-rich soil you can use in your garden and flower beds. Teach your kids how to reduce food waste by having them throw food scraps in a compost bin instead of the garbage. 

You can buy compost bins online or at your local hardware store, but in the spirit of Earth Day, why not try making your own?

9. Try Plant-Based Food Swaps

What we eat impacts our bodies and the environment. Unhealthy diets are among the leading causes of chronic illnesses, and our food system causes about 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based diets are heart-healthy, and it takes less cropland, irrigation water, and nitrogenous fertilizer to support these lifestyles (Musicus et al., 2022). If we consume less animal-sourced foods now and move to vegetarian or vegan diets, we could lower food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70% by 2050 (Springmann et al., 2016).

With this in mind, consider trying a few plant-based food swaps in your weekly meals. Here’s a list of easy substitutions to get you started.

  • Milk: Look for almond, oat, or coconut alternatives.
  • Cheese: Whip up a cashew-based mozzarella or macadamia nut ricotta.
  • Meat: Try tofu, tempeh, or lentils for your protein source.
  • Mayonnaise: Opt for hummus or a veganized mayo spread.
  • Eggs: Use ground flaxseed or aquafaba (chickpea water) in your baked goods.
  • Honey: Add sweetness with agave or maple syrup.

10. Plant a Tree

Whether in your backyard or front lawn, trees help purify the air while also adding curb appeal to your home. Head to your local garden store to find native trees that fit your property.

11. Install a Rain Barrel

There are plenty of ways to save water; one option to consider is a rain barrel. Installing a rain barrel under your downspout can help recycle rainwater. 

Many states offer tax credits or exemptions for purchasing rainwater harvesting equipment. However, collecting rainwater isn’t allowed in a few states, so check with your local legislation before buying a rain barrel.

12. Donate Used Belongings

Donate your kids’ old clothes and toys to charity, or post in an online marketplace that you have free furniture, tools, and dishes available. This keeps unused items out of landfills and gives them a chance to be loved again by someone new.

13. Choose Eco-Friendly Household Essentials

Reduce waste by seeking more environmentally friendly alternatives for everyday items. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Swap plastic straws for reusable metal versions.
  • Ditch disposable plastic bags for silicone resealable bags.
  • Skip single-use grocery bags and bring reusable canvas totes instead.
  • Forgo single-use coffee and tea pods for the reusable kind.
  • Substitute plastic bottles for glass or metal designs.
  • Swap foil or plastic wrap for beeswax wraps.
  • Reduce plastic consumption by opting for shampoo bars.
  • Replace your plastic toothbrush with one made from compostable bamboo.

14. Get Vocal

A 2024 report states that only 43% of U.S. households recycle. This is due to multiple factors, including lack of access to recycling programs, minimal outreach, and poor communication (Appel et al., State of Recycling 2024). You have the power to initiate change by engaging with your state and community leaders, encouraging them to improve accessibility to recycling for all.

The Benefits of Recycling

Understanding why recycling matters is just as important as the act itself, so keep reading to keep learning. 

Recycling Reduces Waste 

Using existing items reduces litter, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy usage. Whether it’s recycling plastic containers or repurposing old furniture, you’re helping keep waste out of landfills and oceans while decreasing the demand for new raw materials. 

Recycling Saves Resources

When we reuse materials like paper, metal, and plastic, we reduce the need to cut down trees, mine for ore, and use water to create raw materials. This keeps our planet’s ecosystem safe and intact.

Recycling Creates Jobs

The History of Earth Day

Photo Credit: BuzzFeed News

Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin junior senator Gaylord Nelson. He believed people weren’t paying enough attention to environmental issues (e.g., oil spills, deadly smog, and pesticides). 

Looking to Vietnam War protests for inspiration, Nelson’s goal was to bring that same passion and energy to the environment and put pressure on the government to take action. After years of planning and preparation, it eventually happened.

The very first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970. Nelson strategically chose this date to cater to college students since they were politically active during this era. He hoped that picking a date that fell between spring break and final exams would attract more people—and it did. 

Over 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day—about 10% of the U.S. population at that time. Today, around a billion people celebrate the holiday each year (Today in history – April 22, 2022).


Is Earth Day always on April 22?

Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated annually on April 22. 

What are some quick facts about Earth Day?

Here are some interesting facts you may not know about Earth Day:

  1. Earth Day has its own theme song: Earth Anthem, written by Indian poet Abhay Kumar in 2013.
  2. Earth Day helped create the EPA. After Earth Day was established in 1970, President Richard Nixon gave the go-ahead to start the agency that same year. 
  3. The Paris Agreement was signed on Earth Day in 2016.
  4. Earth Day is also known as International Mother Earth Day.


  1. The 7 principles – leave no trace center for outdoor ethics. Leave No Trace. (2022, November 15). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/.  
  2. Springmann, M., Godfray, H. C., Rayner, M., & Scarborough, P. (2016). Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(15), 4146–4151. https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1523119113
  3. Musicus, A. A., Wang, D. D., Janiszewski, M., Eshel, G., Blondin, S. A., Willett, W., & Stampfer, M. J. (2022). Health and environmental impacts of plant-rich dietary patterns: A US prospective Cohort Study. The Lancet Planetary Health, 6(11). https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(22)00243-1/fulltext  
  4. Appel, M., Francis, A., Payne, A., Tanimoto, A., & Mouw, S. (2024, January 12). State of Recycling. https://recyclingpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Recycling-Partnership-State-of-Recycling-Report-1.9.23.pdf 
  5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). Recycling economic information (REI) report. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/documents/rei_report_508_compliant.pdf
  6. Today in history – April 22. The Library of Congress. (2022, April). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/april-22/#:~:text=Earth%20Day%20was%20first%20observed,sites%20across%20the%20United%20States.

One thought on “Celebrating Earth Day

  1. When it comes to eco-friendly practices, I also want to mention such a thing as reducing water consumption. The first thing every homeowner should do towards conserving water is checking their homes for plumbing leaks. Even small drips waste a lot of water every day and harm our resources.
    For example, a faucet that drips at a rate of one drip per second can waste around 5 gallons (19 liters) of water per day. That’s about 2,082 gallons (7,881 liters) wasted in a year!

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