How to Celebrate Earth Day
TAKE A NATURE ADVENTURE
- Do you have a bike gathering dust in your garage? Or have you always been curious about riding a Divvy?
- Commuting via bike is a great way to save money and get fit while breathing fresh air, but if city riding is a bit intimidating, find a trail on the outskirts of the city (like these in Glencoe) and enjoy a leisurely ride.
- Commute up to the lakefront however you please, then rent a Divvy for a breezy ride.
- Divvy or bike to any of our fabulous parks for some special CPD events.
- There are so many beautiful, natural features we have right here in Chicago and surrounding Illinois.
- Take a kayak down the river (and check out our restoration and floating garden islands while you’re at it.)
- Visit the magic hedge bird area on Montrose Beach.
- Immerse yourself in the Garfield Park or Lincoln Park Conservatories.
- Head over to the Morton Arboretum or the Botanic Gardens and take a nature walk, or explore some of our local Prairie restorations.
- Take the south shore train to Indian Dunes State Park and trek along the many trails and check out some art.
- Give your car a break and forget about parking; Metra is to the rescue for these adventures.
Biking in Russian River Valley
Emily’s trusty old bike rests against a flourishing tomato plant at the old HQ
Yellow fields in Wisconsin
REDUCE WASTE WITH NEW HABITS
- Got a plastic bottle habit? Consider making moves to ditch it. Single use plastic bottles take hundreds of years to break down, harm ocean life and are literally used for sometimes less than ten minutes. Seek out a high quality water, coffee or tea bottle or thermos (whatever you consume most). Insulated will get you far more mileage for your drink temperature, and keep the temptation of ice-cold bottles of water at bay.
- Is there something you have that is broken that could be fixed or repaired?
- Zero Waste Chicago introduced us to the Community Glue Workshop, a repair clinic held in Roger’s Park. Gather up your broken (but still-loved) items and swing by this Earth Day, April 22nd, between 4 and 7pm. They’ll help you fix anything from electronics to clothing to that finicky lamp that needs a rewire. Details here.
- There are zillions of incredible volunteer opportunities in Chicago, but on Earth Day, consider one that cleans up a beach, forest, lake or park. This is a great opportunity to see your efforts in action (kinda like finally folding that pile of laundry) and catch up with friends or family.
SPRUCE UP YOUR SURROUNDINGS
A snowberry clearwing moth feasts on milkweed in the native plant garden
Pollen collection from a native bergamot flower
- Since we’re getting well into Spring, now would be a great time to assess your plant-growing capabilities. Whether you have a backyard, a windowsill or a kitchen counter, there are so many delicious edible plants you can grow right in your own home.
- A fresh pot of herbs or sprout beds would make a great choice for those with limited outdoor space. You really can’t go wrong with this habit: you get to enjoy fresh herbs for a cocktail or garnish, save money and don’t waste, and best of all for the earth, you forgo plastic packaging and food miles acculated from trying to transport delicate herbs across state lines.
- With more outdoor space, consider adding some native plants to the fray. We go into their benefits here, but the short of it is that they require less maintenance and inputs, and can absorb water before it causes problems in basements.
- If you’re feeling really patient, consider planting a fruit tree so you can reap the benefits in a few years.
- It’s easy to spend hours scrolling through instagram animals, but what about the ones in your own backyard?
- Pigeons certainly get a bad rep, but a bird feeder, milkweed or other changes to your yard can help attract butterflies, cardinals, and other curious critters.
- Did you now that ruby-throated hummingbirds are making their way up towards Chicago? Mix up your own nectar (not far off from simple syrup) and add it to a hummingbird feeder, along with tubular flowers to attract these tiny marvels into your own garden. We are fervent believers in the idea that the more contact we have with nature, the less abstract it becomes; and the more motivated we are to take care of it.
GET EDUCATED, INSPIRED AND MOTIVATED
Laura explores Kankakee before a storm
- Become a bookworm!
- This Earth Day would be a great day to catch up on some powerful reads about our relationship to nature, and how delicate it can be. Reads like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (this helped kick off the original Earth Day) are classics, but there are tons of books about climate change, bee ecology, pollution, the health of the oceans and more that might motivate, inspire and fascinate you. This Forbes list includes conservation books that came out in 2017, but there are many more!
- As design enthusiasts, we find William McDonough’s book to be a must-read. His ideas about changing the way we package and produce consumer goods from the ground up qualify as a paradigm shift.
- Open up a book on midwest plants and take a walk in your neighborhood. You might be surprised at how many different plant species you can identify. This is a great (free—if you get the book from the library, or happen to own it) activity for kids, too.
- Have a movie night!
- Catch a screening of Happening: A Clean Energy revolution. One is even at Garfield Park Conservatory. If you want more, the full list of the One Earth Film Festival is right here.
- While it’s not exactly tangible nature, if the weather’s rainy and cold, Netflix has some pretty fantastic nature documentaries. Planet Earth is a classic, of course, but all of its cousins are amazing as well. The series “Africa” on African wildlife is truly a must-see! Narrated by—who else—the venerable David Attenborough.
- A Day at the Museum:
- The Adler Planetarium’s Earthfest will have events discussing the impact of human development on our ability to see the night sky—among other things.
Bosco explores nature
How the moss team celebrates Earth Day both in general and on the day!
Year round: “We’re in the process of rehabbing a property that was built circa 1895, giving it a new life for many years to come. While we work, it hasn’t been possible to compost or have our flock of chickens, but once we’re done we will get back into both of those things with the extra space. The other good sustainable positives that have come from this, is that Mari and I are much closer to work, cutting our commute by 3/4, which is better for the environment.”
Year round: “We love the earth in our family. Both Lindsay and I have been car-free for over a decade, and Willow hasn’t even driven a car before. We don’t use paper towels or napkins and we compost our food waste.
Earth Day: If it’s nice out that earth day weekend we will probably be planting our garden with vegetables to feed us throughout the Summer and Fall, and if it is not nice out, we will likely be at Garfield Park Conservatory acting like it is.”
Kankakee State Park (left) and Matt enjoying a technicolor sunset from a Michigan dock
Year round: “Connecting with nature is a lifestyle choice and one that brings me true happiness. Living in a large city, I seek out places to escape the constant movement and noise and don’t need to travel far to find a pocket of park or the waterfront.”
Earth Day: “This earth day, weather permitting, I’ll ride along the 606 and stop for coffee at Ipsento, then ride to the Lake. I really enjoy the nature trail and the magic hedge on Montrose beach. You’ll find me there, bird watching and gazing at the vastness of Lake Michigan. I’ll also start preparing our vegetable container garden and planting some native plants to help lure wildlife into the courtyard.”
Earth Day: We are spending our Earth day renewing CSA plans and setting up a compost bin in our backyard.”
Year round: “I started bike commuting in San Diego way back in 2002. It was uphill both ways. No, really, it was. There was literally a tall hill I had to climb on the way to and from work. Anyway, in the much more two dimensional Chicago I can bike to nearly every meeting, outing or errand year round, which means I’m not driving a car. Happier, healthier, and I always get the best parking spot.”
Year round: “Year-round I try to have a strict no-plastic water bottle policy, but am trying to expand this by slowly replacing more plastics in my life with compostable alternatives.”
Earth Day: “It won’t be that surprising that since I compiled this list, I will probably be doing one of the things on it. If the weather is nice, a bike ride to the Botanic Gardens or a sunset ride through a trail sounds like heaven. The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is great for a bundled up walk-through, and the conservatory is my happy place.”
Montrose Beach full moon rise
How will you celebrate Earth Day this year?
Photo cred: Laura Cripe | Matt Nardella