Published on April 14, 2020

With the current pandemic, Earth Day will look much different than year’s past. Although there will not be any events, fairs, or rallies, we still have an opportunity to celebrate our Earth. April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Since 1970, Earth Day has reached millions of people around the world, symbolizing the benefits of environmental behavior change. To recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, here are 50 ways to celebrate while still practicing social distancing.

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  1. Go for a litter cleanup. Don’t forget your gloves!
  2. Pick up your pet waste. Whether you take your dog on a daily walk or let them handle their business in the back yard, picking up pet waste is important.
  3. Try plogging.
  4. Ditch the paper towels. Try using cloth napkins or Skoy Cloths instead!
  5. Try cloth diapering. Now that we all have some extra down time, give cloth diapering a try! This will help save money and keep disposable diapers out of the landfill. Just remember, disposable diaper liners are not flushable!
  6. Get your soil tested. Make sure you aren’t overdoing it with fertilizer by getting your soil tested.
  7. Choose reusable. Try using reusable straws, cups, to-go containers, and utensils to decrease dependence on single-use plastics.
  8. Donate old clothing and household items.
  9. Buy local. Check out a local farm or local restaurant this Earth day. If you’d rather shop from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of local online shops which will deliver straight to your door.
  10. Buy sustainable. Choose sustainable, eco-friendly products when you can.
  11. Drink tap water. Support your local utilities by drinking tap water.
  12. Plant a tree. Trees provide shade and help absorb water that would otherwise runoff into storm drains.
  13. Engage digitally. Although the Earth Day Network is unable to host large gatherings to celebrate Earth Day this year, they plan to launch a digital Earth Day!
  14. Commit to recycling right! Check out what is acceptable in your locality and make a firm commitment to only place the correct items in the recycling bin.
  15. Use earth-friendly cleaning products.
  16. Try biking instead of driving.
  17. Fix a leak! Have any pesky leaks in your home you’ve been avoiding? According to the EPA, nearly 10,000 gallons of water is wasted every year.
  18. Explore local parks. Head outdoors from some fresh air while exploring our local parks. Remember to practice social distancing and avoid playground equipment.
  19. Tune in to distance learning through The Virginia Aquarium or Virginia Living Museum. This includes scientific learning for the whole family!
  20. Learn about pollinators at Norfolk Botanical Garden. The gardens are still open, but be sure to check for updates and limitations before you visit.
  21. Choose organic. Organic farming is better for the environment because it reduces pollution, saves water, and is better for the soil.
  22. Unplug. Save some energy by unplugging from technology.
  23. Try LED lights. LED lights are more energy efficient and last longer than fluorescent bulbs.
  24. Compost your leftover food scraps. Check out composting for beginners here.
  25. Line dry your clothes. Instead of using a dryer, grab some clothes pins and hang your clothes outdoors to dry.
  26. BYOB- bring your own bags. Remember to say no to plastic bags at the grocery store and bring your own reusable bag.
  27. Collect your plastic bags for recycling. If you do have plastic bags, take them back to the grocery store for recycling.
  28. Switch to E-books. Ditch the paper books for an eco-friendly alternative.
  29. Try a book from this Earth Day reading list.
  30. Opt out of receiving phone books and junk mail. Find out how to opt out here.
  31. Switch to paperless billing.
  32. Participate in a local environmental organization. Local organizations are finding ways to engage the community virtually! Check out the Elizabeth River Project, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Lynnhaven River NOW, or your favorite local environmental group to see how you can participate digitally.
  33. Promote your home sustainability by joining an eco-friendly home program. Check out Bay Star Homes, Lake Star Homes, Pearl Homes, and River Star Homes.
  34. Go meatless! Check out the environmental benefits of going meatless one day a week here.
  35. Let in the fresh air. Open your windows to cool off the house instead of turning on your AC.
  36. Start a garden.
  37. Collect your e-waste for recycling. Gather old computers, laptops, TVs, and game systems to be recycled. Check with your locality for local e-cycling events.
  38. Calculate your carbon footprint. Many of our daily activities have a large impact on our carbon footprint. Calculate your carbon footprint here.
  39. Turn down your water heater.
  40. Make a bird feeder out of a reusable carton for your yard. Find out how here.
  41. Print double-sided to save paper. You’ll be saving trees and water, the natural resources used to make paper.
  42. Take shorter showers. Reduce you water usage by opting for a 5-minute shower.
  43. Consider supporting an environmental nonprofit organization by donating or pledging to volunteer.
  44. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  45. Only run your washer and dishwasher when they are full.
  46. If you have the option, choose the stairs instead of the elevator to save energy (and get some exercise!)
  47. Do not use your garbage disposal. Food down your drain can wreak havoc on your pipes and lead to sewage overflows. Try composting food instead of using the garbage disposal.
  48. Telework as much as possible. For some of us, this is an easy one right now! Teleworking reduces carbon emissions by keeping vehicles off the road.
  49. Get outside. Take some time to smell the roses and appreciate nature.
  50. Spread the word. Hop on your social media platforms to spread the word about Earth Day! Tag @HRSDVA to let us know how you’re celebrating this year.


One takeaway from the current pandemic is that we now truly understand how connected our world is. In a matter of months, a virus which was isolated in one country quickly traveled throughout the world, effecting hundreds of thousands of people. Another takeaway is how creative we’ve become with encouraging others and finding ways to connect. Earth Day is no different. Our individual actions, though small, have a large impact on the world.  Although we are limited to the number of people who can gather in one place, now is the time, more than ever, to come together to celebrate our Earth. Even 6-feet apart, we have an opportunity to encourage, inspire and motivate others to make impactful changes to benefit the environment. How will you celebrate the 50th year of Earth Day while still practicing social distancing? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter!


Written by Lacie Wever, HRSD Community Education and Outreach Specialist