Today is the 50th annual Earth Day, an occasion typically reserved for planting trees, recycling, beach clean-ups, and good old-fashioned time in nature. While we remain sheltered in place due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this year is going to have to look a bit different. But there's still a lot we can each do from home to acknowledge and take action on Earth Day, such as joining a digital climate strike or pledging to vote for politicians who support planet-preserving initiatives. The theme of this year's Earth Day is climate action, a crucial pursuit if we want our planet to remain habitable to all of its life forms. Here's how to take part online.
Participate in a virtual event
EarthDay.org is advocating for a four-pronged approach — SAVE, which stands for Speak Up, Act, Vote, and Educate. It will also host Earth Day Live, a live event comprised of calls to action, performances, and messages from public figures and artists including Van Jones, Al Gore, and Zac Efron. And if you're looking for something productive to do, there's an interactive worldwide map full of thousands of environmentally-focused events that you can click to join — from a 7-day clean air challenge organized in Hong Kong to a webinar celebrating people of color in the fight against climate change in Vancouver, to a recycled art reception in El Paso, TX. Simply use the filters on the left to indicate your language, age group, and event type preferences, and digitally RSVP to the events that align with your interests.
There are also tons of parks and museums hosting live tours and programming, including the Staten Island Museum's Earth Day How-To festival and these virtual events hosted by NYC Parks. The latter organization also provides home gardening tips and guided meditations set to video footage of the parks.
Join the social media movement
Instead of taking to the streets for another Global Climate Strike, this March, 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg called on people to participate digitally by posting photos of themselves holding climate strike signs with the hashtag #DigitalStrike in solidarity.
School strike week 82. In a crisis we change our behaviour and adapt to the new circumstances for the greater good of society.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 13, 2020
Join the #DigitalStrike - post a pic of you with a sign and use #ClimateStrikeOnline ! #schoolstrike4climate #fridaysforfuture #climatestrike #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/fZkjqN3DOw
And since we can't get out of the house for Earth Day, there's no better place to show up than on social media. EarthDay.org has a range of posters, logos, and banners you can download or print to share on your own social media channels, or take to Instagram to host a community climate discussion. There's also this social media toolkit full of graphics, hashtags, and Twitter calls to action that you can easily use to further the message. You can also pledge to Vote Earth, which means voting for politicians who prioritize the longevity of the planet by conserving, restoring, and protecting the natural world, as well as voting for a green economy.
On Instagram, Nasa is spearheading #EarthDayAtHome with Astronaut Jessica Meir (@astro_jessica), who will be going live with @nasa to talk about her work on the International Space Station, as well as answering questions about life in space and how her work relates to our lives on Earth, which you can check out via @nasa, @nasaearth, @iss, and @instagram. Meanwhile, Google is hosting Your Plan, Your Planet and providing tips on how to waste less food and water, recycle your clothes and household items, and expend less energy to power your life. Its interactive tools ask you to input specifics like how many light bulbs you keep on in your home during the day, how many loads of laundry you do per week, and even how long your typical shower lasts — the point being to show how small changes can make a huge difference. The tool illustrates the impact of your individual waste, down to the gallons of water used to produce even that banana you just tossed or how much money you could save on your electricity bill by unplugging your microwave, which makes the task of being less wasteful feel more doable.
If you can safely go outside while maintaining a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others, you can also contribute by downloading the Earth Challenge 2020 app, where you can report your personal environmental observations and share them with your community, as well as learn more about the air quality and plastic pollution in your area.
VICE and Refinery29 are committed to ongoing coverage of the global climate crisis. Read all of Refinery29's sustainability stories, and check out more Earth Day 2020 content from Vice.