4 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day That Actually Make a Difference

April 22 marks the 52nd anniversary of the holiday.

With Earth Day approaching, I've committed to making as many environmentally-friendly decisions as possible. Over the last few years, I've made a number of sustainable swaps: I use reusable sandwich wraps instead of plastic zip-top bags and I always take my reusable grocery bags (which I recently discovered are super easy to clean) to the store so I can skip the wasteful plastic sacks. I've even ditched the store-bought makeup wipes and switched over to reusable makeup remover pads.

And while I try to be conscious of these things year-round, Earth Day quickly approaching I wanted to find a few more meaningful ways to celebrate. As the 52nd anniversary of the holiday approaches, take some time to learn the history of the day and choose a few ways to celebrate.

group of volunteers planting a tree
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When Is Earth Day?

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year. This year, the holiday falls on Friday, April 22, 2022.

The History of Earth Day

In 1970 there were no government regulations in place to protect the environment, so Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson organized an event to help educate Americans on the topic. He organized a committee of scientists, environmentalists, and students called Environmental Teach-In, Inc., which held lectures, events, and rallies at colleges across the country in an attempt to get people interested in taking care of the earth. On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans participated in the very first Earth Day.

The impact of these small events around the country was monumental: Because the participants raised so much awareness about the importance of protecting the environment, Congress authorized the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (a federal agency dedicated to environmental policy) just eight months later. The Earth Day movement is also credited with the creation of the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.

Every year since 1970, Americans have gathered to celebrate Earth Day by hosting rallies, organizing community volunteer projects, and holding educational events to teach others about the importance of the environment. This April marks the 51st anniversary of the holiday; to celebrate, consider one of these Earth Day activities.

How to Celebrate Earth Day

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Get Involved

One of the most fitting things you can do on Earth Day is to volunteer with an organization that actually helps the earth. Many communities plant trees or clean up local parks in honor of the holiday. If you're not sure where to start, use VolunteerMatch to find a volunteer opportunity in your area: The site allows you to filter by type of activity and by keyword, so it's easy to find an Earth Day project near you.

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Make Reusable Products

This holiday is a time to learn about sustainability and start implementing new routines. This Earth Day, celebrate in a way that will help you carry out the vision all year: Make your own beeswax food wraps so you can ditch plastic wrap for good, or get out the sewing supplies and make your own zero-waste sponges out of thrifted or upcycled fabric. If you really feel like committing to a sustainable routine, you can also make your own reusable paper towels and commit to not buying any more of the paper version.

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Pick Up Plastic

If group events aren't your thing, you can still get involved in nature. Stroll through a park or find a local walking path and take a bag with you. Pick up all the trash and plastic you see on your walk (be sure to wear gloves for protection, and don't handle broken glass with your hands) then recycle what you can when you get home.

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Raise Money

Sometimes it feels like we can't make much of an impact from our corner of the world, but every little bit helps. This year, do some research and choose an environmental charity to support (if you're not sure where to start, sources like Giving Green and ImpactMatters can help you decide). Hold a fundraiser either in person or online, then donate the funds to your chosen cause.

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