Gardening or investing in some houseplants is one way you can celebrate Earth Day. (Photo via Unsplash)

April 22nd, 1970, 20 million Americans “took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums,” to celebrate the first Earth Day, according to earthday.org. Now, 50 years later, most streets and parks are empty as Americans practice social-distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite the limited access to the outdoors, there are still plenty of reasons and ways to celebrate this year’s Earth Day. The Red & Black compiled a list of ways you can celebrate the holiday at home.

Spend sometime outdoors

While several parks throughout the state and country are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one of the best ways to celebrate Earth Day to get some fresh air. Try soaking up some vitamin D by stepping into your backyard, opening up your windows or strolling through your neighborhood. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can camp out in your backyard for some extra outdoor time.

Start gardening or invest in some houseplants

The coronavirus outbreak has inspired a resurgence in “Victory Gardening,” according to CBS Sunday Morning. “Victory Gardening,” was a homefront craze during the World Wars, when Americans were encouraged to grow their own produce to supplement rations, according to the History channel. Taking part in the trend is another way to celebrate Earth Day. Order some seeds online (Be sure to thank your delivery people!) and try sprouting them on your windowsill or in your backyard.

If gardening isn’t your thing, you could support local plant nurseries by investing in some house plants. Some house plants have air cleaning properties, such as the spider plant, chrysanthemums or peace lilies.

Athens’ Cofer’s Home & Garden Showcase is open for curbside pickup and they have lowered delivery fees to $10 (for purchases of $20 or more) for Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties. If you’d rather have cut flowers for your space (or to give them to a special someone), Daily Groceries Co-op frequently partners with growers like R&R Secret Farm and 3 Porch Farm to sell bouquets. Check Daily Groceries Co-Op’s Instagram for bouquet availability and pre-order information.

Start composting

Composting might sound intimidating to beginners, but Lily Dabbs, a UGArden compost intern, explained it is easier than you might think. Dabbs, a senior geography major from Atlanta, said composting is easy to do at home by collecting kitchen scraps in a trash can or cardboard box. Dabbs said she turns her compost every couple days and hopefully, in a year she’ll have finished compost.

Sometimes knowing what to compost can be confusing, especially with products labeled “compostable” that only break down in industrial facilities. Dabbs says she composts all her fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags (after removing the staple), eggshells and some paper towels. Dabbs said sometimes she’ll add newspaper as well, “to balance the browns and greens.”

If you don’t have outdoor space to start a composting operation, Dabbs said the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials has compost bins “just outside the front gate,” for people to drop off compost for free.

Get crafty with a nature-inspired DIY or upcycling project

Celebrate Earth Day by getting your creative juices flowing. Try making pinecone birdfeeders by smearing a pinecone or cardboard tube with peanut butter, rolling it in birdseed and stringing it outside with twine.

If the bird feeders don’t interest you, but you still want to get crafty, you could turn to Pinterest for some upcycling inspiration. Upcycling is defined as “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item,” according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary. Upcycling projects can be a great way to think creatively and save unwanted objects from the landfill.

Cook yourself a plant-based meal

Plant-based diets not only offer health benefits, but they are also more sustainable than diets loaded with meat and dairy. “The production of animal products generates the majority of food-related [greenhouse gas] emissions (72–78% of total agricultural emissions),” according to a study in the journal “Nature.”

While going vegan or vegetarian might seem daunting, by adding just a few plant-based meals to your week, you can lower your carbon footprint. For your plant-based meal, you can order produce from local farms through Collective Harvest’s online farm stand, or from Daily Groceries Co-Op.

If cooking isn’t your thing, but you still want to enjoy a plant-based meal, you can order online from vegetarian restaurant The Grit from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily through Bulldawg Food. Other Athens eateries offering vegan grub for takeout or delivery include Maepole and Hi-Lo Lounge.

Watch a nature documentary or series

Most streaming services offer an abundance of nature documentaries and series. Netflix boasts a wide collection of nature series, and Hulu has some suspenseful shows like “River Monsters” and “Shark Week” features. Disney+ also has a trove of National Geographic titles.

“Planet Earth” is a classic nature series, but if you want something to get your adrenaline going, you can check out mountain climbing documentaries “Free Solo” or “Meru.” You can also check out these free virtual National Park tours, where park rangers lead you through five breathtaking parks in 360-degree video.

Stay connected!

While UGA students have scattered far and wide due to the suspension of in-person classes, there are still ways to stay connected with the UGA Office of Sustainability.

The office started a new initiative, the (Re)sourceful Collective, designed to build a virtual community centered around sustainability and creativity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to their website. The (Re)sourceful Collective will host weekly themed challenges throughout the month of April, with upcoming weeks focusing on “Victory Gardening” and “reclamation and reuse,” according to the website. For information on the weekly themes, you can visit the office’s Instagram and Facebook.

Activities “Yoga Under the Stars” and “Sustainable UGA Spring 2020 Semester in Review,” were originally planned as in-person events, but are now scheduled to take place virtually. For the complete list of online events, click here.

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