Happy Earth Day 2008: Twelve Activities to Celebrate Earth

Happy Earth Day! What is Earth Day, anyway, and is it anything more than a marketing excuse to sell lots and lots of ostensibly green products? (Celebrate Earth Day! Buy a new set of "green" cookware. Etc.)

Earth Day was founded in 1970 to draw attention in the United States to the worsening condition of the environment, and ever since then it has been a public day of activism and lobbying to campaign for better laws, practices, and public awareness. We think it's a great excuse to do some small, practical things to help us enjoy the earth and be more responsible. (And yes, if you're truly in the market for pans, maybe exploring "green" pans is a good idea.)

  1. Go outside!
  2. Get outside for Earth Day. Take a walk, open a window and stick your head out.

  3. Take a bag to the grocery store
  4. Remember to take a reusable bag to the grocery store with you. It's a small thing, but it also cuts down on consumption since you're shopping to fill a limited amount of bag space.

  5. Start composting
  6. Just start throwing your old peels and fruit skins into a small closed trashcan under the sink. Check out these directions for what to do next.

  7. Go vegetarian for the day
  8. Avoid meat for just one day and discover something new. As they say in this piece from Martha Stewart, cutting down on meat is a good step towards environmental health.

  9. Invite a faith leader to sign the Pledge
  10. Good care of the Earth is vital to many religions and faiths. Deepen your own by talking about sustainable food and the Earth Day Pledge on global warming with others from your faith community.

  11. Make a Kiva small business microloan
  12. The Earth means people too. Get connected to someone far away by supporting their business in a small way.

  13. Cook a new vegetable
  14. As part of going meatless, find something new that you've never tried before!

  15. Eat less
  16. Eating less is good for your health and the environment. Try scaling back on your meals today and seeing how you feel.

  17. Plant some seeds
  18. Have you started a garden yet this year? Plant a few seeds in a paper egg carton, or buy an herb plant and get it going in the new sunshine.

  19. Make sure your fridge isn't set too low
  20. 42 degrees is the right temperature. Any lower and you're using unnecessary energy.

  21. Buy something responsibly made
  22. Look for farmers markets open today and support local farms and artisans. Check Local Harvest. Also read up on sustainable seafood choices.

  23. Buy nothing
  24. Protest a society of over-consumption by purchasing nothing and making a meal from what's already in your cupboards and fridge.

Are you doing anything special for Earth Day this year?

(Images: Earth Day Flag, Wikipedia; Martha Stewart)