The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing events to go digital.

Earth Day 2020 is all about the environment and the outdoors but this year it’s being celebrated remotely. 

The Importance of Earth Day

Earth Day began in the USA on April 22nd 1970 and has been held annually ever since. It’s now a global environmental education and protection movement of one billion participants and is the world’s largest civic observance (non-religious celebration). 

The theme for 2020 is climate action and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the original meeting. 

A 3-day strike had been planned in the US. There would have been the usual litter picks, community clean-ups, educational sessions and political and cultural discourse on climate change and environmentalism but COVID-19, along with social distancing and isolation, means that much of the activism and education will now be done online. 

Earth Day 2020 and Coronavirus

COVID-19’s catastrophic global impact could be seen as a precursor to some of the problems we could face in the future as a result of climate change. Individual borders don’t count for much against viruses nor can they protect against extreme weather, dangerous air quality, drought, flooding or food shortages.

The UN has said ‘The pandemic is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of humans and the planet in the face of global-scale threats. Unchecked damage to our environment must be addressed.’

How to Take Part in Earth Day 2020

The UN says that Earth Day 2020 calls for ‘24 hours of actions, big and small, for people and the planet. On this 50th anniversary, civil society organizers hope to fill the world’s digital landscape with global conversations, positive acts, performances, webinars and events supporting urgent action on climate change.’

If you’ve got a computer and internet access, then there’s a huge range of resources to tap into and activities to get involved in. 

With so many UK parents currently home-schooling their children, now is an ideal opportunity to take advantage of the resources offered by the world’s biggest scientific and environmental bodies. 

The New York Times lists some of the Big Apple’s best virtual events streaming globally throughout Wednesday. One of the highlights is Field Trip Earth from the American Museum of Natural history that ‘uses interactive data-visualization software to provide views of sites like the Himalayas and the Great Barrier Reef from space’ 

NASA has also dedicated a page on its website to Earth Day 2020 and created a toolkit including lesson plans, videos, quizzes, and much more.

The Earth Day website has an entire section devoted to taking action.  Anyone can download the Earth Challenge 2020 app and get involved by measuring pollution or plastic waste in their local area. 

In place of what should have been a 3-day strike, Earth Day Live is a 72-hour non-stop live stream event of music, performance and discussion featuring artists, musicians and changemakers all focused on raising awareness and conversation about environmentalism and climate change. 

You can find the details of hundreds of digital events by using the search engine and filter function on the Earth Day website. Find out what’s happening in your part of the world as well as adding your event for others to find and enjoy. 

Getting Involved on April 22nd

But it’s not just about absorbing online content. 

Earth Day is about putting into practice small changes that add up to make the big differences.  Until you’re able to get back into the classroom, onto the streets and on platforms, there are lots of things you can do at home to help. 

  • Switch to using environmentally-friendly cleaning products in your home and business
  • Reduce single-use plastics 
  • Switch to online billing rather than getting your bills through the post 
  • Buy organic produce to reduce the use of pesticides and your exposure to it 
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of your food by watching how much you’re throwing away and by putting any kitchen scraps in a compost bin
  • Take shorter showers
  • Don’t use the washing machine or dishwasher unless they’re full.  And when you’ve washed your clothing, hang it to dry outside rather than putting it in a dryer 
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room
  • Turn off power at the wall rather than leaving electrical appliances on standby
  • Explore clean-energy generating equipment for your business
  • Reduce your meat consumption or pick a day to go meat-free
  • Plant a tree
  • Create an animal habitat in your garden
  • Sign up to newsletters and educate yourself about local and international environmental issues. 

Once the lockdown restrictions have been lifted and the social distancing requirements relaxed, they’ll be plenty of opportunities to get back out in the world and take a more hands-on approach to environmental action. 

Now could be a good time to research a community litter-pick or clean-up to complete later in the year. 

COVID-19 means that Earth Day 2020 will be unlike any other in the event’s 50-year history, but environmental protection and education are as important as ever, and we all need to do whatever we can to help amplify its message even as we practice social distancing. 

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