The first Earth Day was in 1970, marking the inception of the environmental movement. Fast forward to today, more than one billion people will celebrate and advocate for the protection of our planet on April 22 this year. Want to get involved? Your family can plan ways to take part in official events or create your own to become better stewards of the Earth. This year’s theme is Planet vs. Plastics, advocating for the ultimate goal of building a plastic-free future for all. 

Here are 10 ways your family can make our world a healthier and happier place to live this Earth Day. 

Join a local cleanup 

Make a real difference to the local community by volunteering your time as a family to the 33rd annual Earth Day Clean Up in Oakville. Last year, over 1,000 volunteers collected over eight metric tonnes of garbage! To participate, visit oakvillepeacecentre.org.   BurlingtonGreen encourages residents to create and register a local cleanup event. The organization will publish online, provide free supplies, and then track, measure and share the impact of all participants. Register at burlingtongreen.org. 

Skip the takeout

For the month of April, reduce your plastic waste by making homemade meals a priority and cutting takeout from your menu. This statistic is tough to swallow: In 2019, 805 million takeout containers were sold in Canada, and they made the top 10 list of items most frequently found and intercepted on beach cleanups in Canada before entering rivers, wetlands, forests and landfills. 

Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens

Kids who appreciate nature better understand the pressing need to protect it. Head to the RBG and explore Hendrie Park with its 12 themed garden areas, as well as the rock gardens  — where you just might catch the cherry tree blossoms in bloom. Take the kids to the Nature’s Superheroes: Life at the Limits exhibit, before it closes on April 21.

Get Earth smart

Grow your IQ on the struggles facing our Earth, and the solutions within our grasp. Visit Earthday.org to answer quizzes that test your knowledge on climate change, and the human actions most impacting the Earth. Visit your local library to pick up a book to read to your kids, and find one for yourself to inform and inspire action.  

Build a succulent terrarium

Succulents are low-maintenance and hardy plants, making them ideal for a DIY terrarium, even for younger kids. Learning how to care for a small ecosystem helps build awareness for the special needs of our natural earth. You’ll need a clear jar or bowl to house your plants, gravel, something to filter the water (like a coffee filter), soil and a range of succulents. 

Go thrifting

Take a pass on fast fashion, help the environment and update your wardrobe by thrifting. My Girlfriend’s Closet and Plato’s Closet (both in Oakville) have no shortage of popular brands. The Attic in downtown Burlington also sells pre-loved clothing, and your money goes towards the Burlington Humane Society. Visit Dundas store, Sell It 2 Wear It, specializing in vintage wear and European finds. 

Try forest bathing 

Spending time in nature is good for us, and people in Japan have been practicing forest bathing since the 1980s. Simply, forest bathing means taking in the environment using all your senses. Bronte Creek Provincial Park is an ideal place to give forest bathing a try. It has a network of hiking trails, including the Trillium Trail where you’ll see spring wildflowers and catch a glimpse of the valley floor. Follow the trail and close your eyes and notice what you can smell, hear and feel.

Advocate for the planet

Leverage Earth Day as a time to let your voice be heard. Find small ways to make a difference as a family, whether it’s signing Earth Day’s Global Plastics Treaty aimed at reducing fossil fuel-based plastic production, or learning more about youth climate change organizations, like Fridays For Future, which began after Greta Thunberg and other young activists protested against inadequate climate change action. 

Create a butterfly garden

Gardening season is around the corner. This spring, transform part of your yard into a butterfly garden. Some of the best plants to attract butterflies include Black-Eyed Susan, the native Yarrow, Butterfly Bush and Bee Balm. Not sure where to begin? Check out The Butterfly Project, a movement started by the David Suzuki Foundation that’s growing a highway of habitat for butterflies and bees across Canada. 

Donate to a charity you feel passionate about

Challenge your family to research different charities locally, or across the globe, that are working hard to improve the health of our planet. Whether it’s protecting our water or a particular species, local advocacy or even industry-specific (think: fashion or food), there are plenty of organizations worth supporting – donate to the one that your family feels most passionate about. 

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