Earth Day began in 1970 with a demonstration. Today, more than 1 billion people celebrate by working together and apart to amplify what’s good for the earth — and to mitigate what’s bad. Here in Philly, that means planting and growing native plants and trees, cleaning up streams and parks, learning new conservation practices, teaching kids to do the same — and, on occasion, having a drink or two.
Here’s our guide to events that celebrate and restore the Philadelphia part of the planet on and around Earth Day, plus things you can do any old day to make our city’s environment healthier.
EARTH DAY EVENTS
PHS TREE PLANTING, April 20–24
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has more than 1,400 that need to get into the ground over the next few days. If you have three hours and the ability to get around town, you can become a volunteer Tree Tender. Register here.
CELEBRATE TRAILS DAY, April 22
Parks and green spaces across the U.S. open and activate their trails for Earth Day. Here in town, those places include Tacony Creek Park Trail , Forbidden Drive, Cobbs Creek and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, which calls its Earth Day celebration: Naturepalooza. Times vary. All free.
EARTH DAY OF SERVICE, April 22, from 9am to noon
Friends of the Wissahickon needs volunteers for four park cleanups — removing litter and leaves, cutting back invasive plants — at Harvey Street, Ridge Avenue, Historic Rittenhouse Town and Valley Green. They provide gloves, tools and instruction. You wear sturdy shoes and long pants and BYO water. Register here.
EARTH WEEKEND, April 22–23, from 10am to 5pm
The Academy of Natural Sciences hosts a full weekend of family- and eco-friendly activities, including presentations about bees, bird puppet-making, story times and a workshop on art and pre-cycling. Tickets are $25, $21 ages 2-12, $2 ACCESS cardholders. 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway
SPRING FLING MARKET, April 22, from 11am to 4pm
WHYY BE MY NEIGHBOR DAY, April 22, noon to 2pm
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse hosts the Academy of Natural Sciences — and possibly the Daniel Tiger. Free. 3500 Reservoir Drive
EARTH DAY ON 52ND STREET, April 22, 5 to 10:30pm
Get Fresh Day, cinéSPEAK and Friends of Malcolm X Memorial Park collab on an evening of garden-inspired art-making and Kora music (5 to 8pm), and film — Black Panther. BYO chair / blanket. Free. 51st and Pine streets
EVERYDAY FUTURES FEST BLOCK PARTY, April 23, noon to 5pm
There will be music, art, storytellers, vendors selling repurposed materials made into crafts, plus community and sustainable science workshops at this Bella Vista block party. Register here. Free. 7th and Catharine streets
EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY
Celebrate Earth Day every day by working toward our livable, sustainable future. Here are nine ways every Philadelphia Citizen can contribute:
1. Don’t give in to “climate doomism”
As one of the most famous climatologists of our times — Penn professor Michael E. Mann — reminds us repeatedly in his work: “The reality is, if the science told me that we are f’ed, and there’s nothing we can do about it, I would have to be truthful about that. But the fact is, we can very much do something about it.”
2. Shop at farmers markets
So many reasons to shop local farmers markets, many of which have opened for the season:
- Locally grown food has a much smaller carbon footprint than food shipped from around the country / world — and tends to be much fresher.
- Small farms that come to markets tend to practice more sustainable farming practices, prioritizing soil health, biodiversity, and the reduction of chemical pollutants.
- Less packaging reduces waste and energy required to produce and dispose of packaging materials.
- In-season food tastes better!
- It feels great to get outside, interact with the people who produce your food, and discover something new-to-you to eat.
In and around Philadelphia, we have plenty of opportunities to purchase local produce and mingle with our neighbors.
3. Grow your own food
You might think that you don’t have enough space to garden here in the city, but you would be wrong! Whether you have a window box or a backyard, you can help reduce the enormous carbon footprint and waste that commercial agriculture and food processing leave behind by growing your own fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits — which also helps mitigate climate change.
4. Shop at local, sustainable shops
Financial activism is more than just boycotts. You can put your money where your mouth is by supporting local businesses and companies that operate sustainably and responsibly. Invest where you live by purchasing goods and services from businesses based in your community. Shop businesses that put people, community, and the earth before profits. You vote in elections. Now vote with your wallet.
5. Clean up your hood
Don’t relegate your cleanup efforts to one of those designated cleanup days, including Earth Day. Sadly, our litter-riddled, dumped-upon city needs cleaning up all the time. Do it on your own time, or on a schedule. Here’s how.
6. Ditch fossil fuels for pedal power
Those who can bike — and can do it safely — make getting around town easy and fun. No parking!
7. Stop throwing stuff away / buying new crap
Given that the U.S. recycling system is pretty broken, we can take recycle-reuse-reduce into our own hands, thanks to the social media black market of household goods (and then some). Stop the flow of junk into landfills! Don’t toss that old furniture, lamp, Tupperware set, unused pet supplies, or books in the trash — give them a second life. And, don’t head straight to Target/IKEA/HomeGoods the next time you need something new. Instead, buy … nothing!
8. Mitigate climate change in your daily life
It’s easier than you think. Fifty ways how you can do it.
All of these are good steps to take to live healthier, make a cleaner and more beautiful city, and do our parts to mitigate the effects of climate change. But the reality, as Mann says, is that 70 percent of the world’s carbon emissions come from just 100 companies worldwide. They get away with it because policymakers let them. Does that matter to you? Then, vote for candidates who pledge to do something about it. (Start local, by casting a ballot in the municipal primary on May 16.)
HOW PHILLY STACKS UP WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash