How does one celebrate Earth Day®? It’s not a national holiday but this year April 22 coincides with Good Friday and the Easter weekend. In Canada, it’s protected from becoming a commercialized event heralded with advertisements, cards, and special gifts,because its name and leaf symbol can only be used with the permission of Earth Day Canada. This makes sense, particularly because consumerism is one of the activities that contribute to waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and consumption of natural resources.
So how does one celebrate Earth Day®? The possibilities are abundant. For me, talking, blogging, tweeting and being aware of it is a start. If the weather is nice, I’ll get outside and enjoy nature in the yard or perhaps by the lake. On the weekend I’ll be taking a vegetarian dish to a family Easter gathering.
For some folks, this time of year, with Earth Hour in March and Earth Week in April, is a time to think of new initiatives. For example, I’ll be opting into the Hydro One Peaksaver® program (it will be offered by Kingston Hydro in the second half of 2011), checking for opportunities to seal and caulk for energy efficiency, and using any extra
water, such as bath water, in the garden. I also recently joined the David Suzuki Foundation online book club—as soon as I can get my hands on the current book I’ll be off to the races with that project.
For inspiration, here are some ideas I’ve gathered in honour of Earth Day 2011:
*SIGN UP FOR AN ECO E-NEWSLETTER — read environmental news and tips as they are conveniently delivered to your email inbox. Perhaps try a newsletter from one of these organizations:
- David SuzukiFoundation,
- World Wildlife Fund Canada,
- Environmental Defence Fund, or
- Climate Action Network Canada.
*JOIN A LOCAL ORGANIZATION WITH EARTH-POSITIVE GOALS–ideas for Kingston Ontario residents include:
- Transition Kingston,
- Sustainable Kingston,
- Main Street Market, a Kingston community shared agriculture (CSA) organization supplying local produce
- Cataraqui Conservation Area, and
- Rideau Trail Association.
*GIVE UP SOMETHING–Respond to the 2011 Earth Day® slogan “Give it up for Earth Day” and give something up: for example, refuse plastic bags, eat less meat, give up chlorine bleach, give up garden products with chemicals, have shorter showers, avoid idling in drive-throughs, walk or ride a bike more often, buy secondhand more often, and so on.
*PLAN AN EVENT–It may be too late to plan an Earth Day® event for this year, but it could be time to get talking about a 2012 special event with a community group you’re involved with. Official Earth Day® events are registered with Earth Day Canada and listed on the website, earthday.ca. This year the one registered Kingston event (at time of writing) is a used clothing and household goods drive by the Clothesline project of the Canadian Diabetes Association (Thursday April 21, 8am to 12pm, 541 Days Rd, Unit 10). Near Kingston there is a community clean-up and tree plant in Napanee (April 30) and community clean-up in Yarker (April 23).
* SIGN UP FOR THE GREENEST CANADIAN CITY CHALLENGE, it’s a registered Earth Day® event, listed under “Several Cities in Ontario”. Go to
greengrouch.com to find out more. Participants agree to fill out a weekly questionnaire, which tracks eco habits, such as using reusable beverage containers,
cloth shopping bags, and cold water for washing. Points are tabulated by city. Currently, Grande Prairie Alberta is winning with 13088 points and Kingston participants have tallied 151 points—if we have more participants, we’ll do much better! About 50 cities across Canada are involved—in Ontario, residents from about 19 cities are signed up. The competition started on March 2 and goes to April 22, 2012.
*READ THE YELLOW PAGES—I bet many people are not aware that Earth Day Canada in partnership with Green Communities Canada have published an ecoGuide in Yellow Pages phone books across Canada. If you don’t have the Yellow Pages it’s possible to access your local guide at: http://eco.yellowpages.ca/. The Eco Guide includes a directory for responsibly discarding hundreds of different items, a guide to eco-certification labels, and Earth Day Canada’s 15 step challenge that offers 15 recommended eco actions backed up with references and quantification of benefits.
I hope this information is useful and not overwhelming. Each of us has different lives and priorities. The idea is to celebrate and cherish our planet. On special occasions such as Earth Day® we are prompted to review our contributions and inspired to find new ways to take part in this century’s green revolution.