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10 Tips for Celebrating Earth Day at Home

A field of flowers with the Cathedral of Learning in the background
The first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, drew an estimated 20 million participants nationwide to advocate for a cleaner environment.

Aurora Sharrard in a red shirt and black jacket in front of greenery
But marches and rallies of the first Earth Day aren’t on the agenda this year. With much of the nation under stay-at-home orders, Earth Day 2020 events are all virtual, with it being declared the first Digital Earth Day.

“Earth Day is every day,” said Aurora Sharrard, University of Pittsburgh sustainability director. “But celebrating Earth Day globally on April 22 is an important opportunity to celebrate 50 years of Earth Days and renew our individual and organizational commitments to a more sustainable future.”  

To celebrate the anniversary, Sharrard offered 10 at-home Earth Day actions to consider:

  1. Experiment with new plant-forward recipes. Food production accounts for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions; eating more plant-based foods and less meat even once a day can help reduce food’s climate impact.
  2. Plant a garden for fresh food all summer. Be sure to include some heirloom and native varieties that attract pollinators. No yard? Turn a water bottle into a windowsill hydroponics mini-system for growing fresh herbs. Check out the Pitt Hydroponics Instagram for images from a recent workshop.
  3. Participate in citizen science. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has compiled a list of projects for all ages to peruse.
  4. Start a backyard compost pile. Learn the basics from Pennsylvania Resources Council.
  5. Reduce your use of paper products. Make your own cleaning rags from old T-shirts or socks—or buy pre-made reusables. If you have small children, switch from disposable baby diapers to reusable ones.
  6. Clean out your closets and prepare to donate unwanted items to the University of Thriftsburgh (Pitt’s student-run campus thrift store) or other secondhand shops when stores reopen.
  7. Clothing that’s damaged or otherwise not suitable for donation can be recycled. Did you know that clothing and textiles make up about 6% of the U.S. waste stream? Collect your unusable textiles for donation to the University’s textile recycling program, which diverts them from landfills.
  8. Box up used books for donation to a local library.
  9. Save up other recyclable items such as textiles, batteries, and electronics for safe drop-off at Pitt or in your community later.
  10. Write a note of encouragement or draw a picture to bring a smile to a friend, neighbor or nursing home resident. Sustainability is about the well-being of people along with the well-being of the planet and our economy.  

Digital Earth Day at Pitt

  • Trace Pitt’s sustainability journey and see a list of virtual Earth Day events compiled by Pitt’s Office of Sustainability.
  • Welcome the day with a special Earth Day morning yoga session featuring Healthy Lifestyle Institute affiliated faculty member Sally Sherman at 8:15 a.m.
  • Join Pitt sustainability director Aurora Sharrard for coffee and conversation at 10 a.m.
  • Learn about Pitt Green office, lab and event designations with sustainability projects coordinator Samantha Ford at 2 p.m.
  • Share how you’re celebrating using the hashtag #PittEarthDay.