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Top 10 ways to observe Earth Day

As much as the Earth gives us, the least we can do is honor and protect it in return

<p>Kaitlyn Hilliard is a Top 10 Writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Kaitlyn Hilliard is a Top 10 Writer for The Cavalier Daily.

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1. Watch the sunrise outside of Clem

Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to start your Earth Day celebration around Grounds than by watching the sun rise outside on the Clemons Library patio. The rising sun and the famous Lewis Mountain house on the hill is another perfect combination. Also, if you needed an additional reward — other than the glorious oranges and pinks of a Charlottesville sunrise — you can stop by Bodo’s Bagels on the way home for a delicious bagel and a number one ticket. Nothing says “Happy Earth Day” like the best bagel in town. 

2. Go plogging around Grounds

If you’re not familiar with the concept of plogging, it is a combination of jogging and picking up litter off the ground. This is a popular fitness activity that started in Sweden and was brought to the U.S. around 2018. Personally, I believe this should be a more popular activity around Grounds, as we have a serious pollution problem in the off-Grounds communities — I know you have seen the cans, trash and random litter on 14th St., Wertland St. and far beyond. So, I urge you to grab a bag, put on your running shoes and treat the Earth with a little love and care. 

3. Try composting for a week

A more advanced way to observe Earth Day this week would be to try composting during the week leading up to Thursday. Hop on Amazon, find a cheap starter composting bin and go from there. As you prepare your meals, collect your food scraps — like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and even your egg shells. This will help you to be more mindful of your food waste — and you might even gain a great new habit along with an intriguing conversation starter! 

4. Donate to sustainable organizations

Sometimes making changes to our lives can be extremely taxing — but just because you’re not at the point where you can easily alter your entire lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy and contribute to the earth in little ways. In order to make an impact, consider donating financially — or even volunteering your time — to organizations that contribute to making sustainable products or are finding solutions to climate change. If you need ideas, try donating to to help in their fight against climate change or the Rainforest Alliance, which works to conserve biodiversity. Also, keep your eyes peeled for stores and shops that have sales that donate some of their proceeds to sustainability organizations. There are many ways to help this Earth Day! 

5. Plant something

When most people think of ways to celebrate Earth Day, they think of planting a tree. I totally get that — trees are beautiful, produce fruit and provide us with oxygen. What’s not to love about trees? However, it may be a little difficult for all of us to wander around Grounds and plant trees in random places. I can also say with a fair amount of confidence that celebrating in that way may be against some University rules. So, instead of ruining the groundskeepers’ lives and jeopardizing your academic career, try planting something smaller in your apartment or outside of your home. Flowers, herb plants and vegetable plants are all great options. And, if you get permission from your landlord or parents, you can even plant a tree on Earth Day — personally, I’ll support you.

6. Go for a hike or a nature walk

One of my favorite ways to enjoy nature on a daily basis is to just walk around Grounds and take it all in. I urge you to try your best to stay off of your phone, and, instead, look around at how nature surrounds you in so many different ways. Notice the Ginkgo trees near the Rotunda, the Russian Sage in front of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and the many, many flowers that thrive in the Gardens. And, don’t forget the wide variety of hiking spots that Charlottesville has to offer. Find some breathtaking views and soak them in on this Earth Day.

7. Reduce, reuse and recycle

We’ve heard this one since we were kids, but somehow, it hasn’t clicked for everyone. This Earth Day, if you aren’t already, start sorting your trash and begin recycling paper, plastic and metals. Keep in mind these aren’t tasks that impact you alone — we are all sharing the same earth, so we need to work together to care for our planet. If you are interested in taking the three Rs one step further, give upcycling a try! Upcycling is a form of reusing — you take something that seems worthless or invaluable and create something new and useful out of it. You can upcycle clothes, knickknacks, trash and so much more. If you find that upcycling is something you’re particularly good at or interested in, you can even make a small business or Etsy shop out of your new sustainable hobby. 

8. Try nature journaling

There are many people in this world who enjoy various forms of journaling — from food journaling to bullet journaling to keeping a diary. If you happen to be one of these people, why not give nature journaling a try in honor of Earth Day?  Nature journaling can really be anything you want it to be, as long as it helps you to engage with the natural world surrounding you. Use different prompts to consider how we incorporate nature into our interior spaces or write about the bird that tweets to wake you up in the morning. Your nature journal can also include drawings, poems, thoughts of nature or even samples of actual natural things that you find speak to you! Really, this can be anything you want it to be — that’s the beauty of it.

9. Eat a more sustainable diet

I know, I know — nobody really wants to change their diet, especially when it seems like your single change doesn’t make that big of a difference. But, I urge you to take a chance and try a more sustainable diet, even if it is only for the few days leading up to Earth Day — whether that means eliminating meat from one meal, one day or one whole week. If you can’t commit to limiting your meat consumption, try to be conscious of your food waste. Or, simply attempt to eat more fruits and veggies throughout the week to truly connect with the earth through plants. 

10. Watch the sunset from the top of Culbreth Parking Garage

Similarly to how you started your day watching the sunrise, end Earth Day with a beautiful sunset view from Culbreth Parking Garage. Weather permitting, the sunset from this elevated location is a sight to see, and it is a necessity for all University students to experience at least once in their time here. Grab a few friends and be prepared to take some cute pics of you all with the sunset as your backdrop. You’re likely going to need a few pictures of you out in the wild to post on Instagram with the classic caption, “Thank you, Earth.”