As our second pandemic Earth Day quickly approaches, there is much uncertainty as the world slowly but surely returns to pre-pandemic “normal.” Global CO2 emissions  have already rebounded above pre-pandemic levels. While Earth Day in 2020 acknowledged nature's role in global healing, this year’s 51st annual Earth Day, on April 22nd, recognizes the profound impacts of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the human species on planet earth. 

Championed by US Senator and environmentalist Gaylord Nelson, the original Earth Day in 1970 was established in response to a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara. Its theme focused on the importance of clean air and water. Each Earth Day since then has underscored the importance of serious environmental problems that we collectively face and the importance of taking action before it’s too late. 

Many Earth Day 2021 celebrations will be held both in person and virtually as vaccines become more widely available and different activities are permitted again. In light of the pandemic, those who attend in-person events are advised to follow proper social distancing protocols and engage in Earth Day activities within their own household, “bubble” or “pod” whenever possible.

One way you can celebrate is by joining Sustainable Contra Costa at Earth Day at the Ruth Bancroft Garden on Saturday, April 24th from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Tickets will cost $10 per adult, and children and members are free. 

While it is important to note that the East Bay Parks District has cancelled in-person volunteer programs and ongoing project events until further notice, they are still offering an array of Earth Day activities and opportunities to get involved. You can participate in the 2021 Volunteer Earth Month Neighborhood Cleanup by cleaning up your own neighborhood; make sure to act fast- the first 100 people to register will be sent a Volunteer Toolkit to help ensure a fun and safe cleanup! The East Bay Parks District is also hosting a 2021 Virtual Earth Day Celebration which will take place from April 17th to May 31st. To learn more about this organization and the work they engage in year-around, you can visit their website at www.ebparks.org

For more virtual programming and Earth Day activism/awareness across three days (from April 20th to April 22nd), earthday.org is an organization that grew out of the very first Earth Day and is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement. This year’s theme, Restore Our Earth, focuses not only on the need to reduce our environmental impact on the planet as we recover from the effects of the pandemic, but also focuses on how we all can play a role in repairing the damage already done. The three-day Earth Day 2021 programming will feature a youth climate summit, a global education summit, and an Earth Day Live digital event; you can even use this page to search for volunteering opportunities near you

However, there are many ways to celebrate Earth Day from the comfort of your own home- here are a few: 

  • Do self guided clean-up activities within your household, “bubble,” or “pod.”
  • Fight climate change with diet change by eating more plants!
  • Take a virtual field trip by visiting a museum or garden online:
  • Take a walk and discover native plants using this Native Plant Finder
  • Look for stars during the Lyrid meteor shower- its peak will be the evening of April 21 into the early morning hours of April 22!
  • Plant a tree; you can check out onetreeplanted.org to get started
  • Contact your representatives to Have a Say

Why not challenge yourself to make Earth Day every day? Grab your 4th-8th graders and join the California Academy of Sciences for an online event discussing just that at Make Earth Day Every Day on April 22nd at 12:30pm PT. Whether it's by joining the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge to create a cleaner, healthier community (and saving money in the process) or following these Earth Day tips, any and every action you take throughout the year makes a difference. After all, there is no Planet B! 

Another way to practice kindness and engage in activism for the Earth is by extending the spirit of stewardship into other intersectional aspects of environmental and social justice. Here are a few other volunteer opportunities in Contra Costa County:

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