10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary While Practicing Social Distancing

Remember that this is the only home we’ve got, and it’s up to all of us to take care of it!

On April 22, 1970, Americans first observed Earth Day.

Fast forward fifty years, and the national holiday is more relevant than ever. There are more people living on the planet than ever before, and the effects of climate change are rapidly expanding. That means that we all owe it to each other to do what we can to protect and preserve the environment.

Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to observe Earth Day while adhering to the Safer At Home guidelines currently in place. Here’s how:

1. Celebrate online.

The Kenosha-based Gateway Technical College always throws a big Earth Day bash. This year, the event is taking place online. Visit the college’s Facebook page from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day for fun activities and discussion you can enjoy from the comfort of your own couch. 

2. Party with astronauts.

This year the folks over at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are reminding us that, “as we physically separate ourselves by necessity, we can still collectively appreciate the wondrous beauty of our planet.” The organization is hosting a series of Earth Day events, including a NASA Earth watch party on April 22.  

3. Get Moving.

The Earth Day Virtual Challenge is taking place in Milwaukee, and it’s not too late to sign up. According to the event’s sign-up page: “The goal is that during the month of April (Earth Day month) we will collectively see how many times we can run the distance of the equator 24,901 miles!  We need at least 415 participants to commit to run at least 2 miles a day for the month of April to make it at least once around the Equator, but we think we can do more!” Participation is free. 

4. Learn about the importance of environmentalism.

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies is hosting a Virtual 2020 Earth Day Conference on April 20. “There are both pre-recorded and live sessions,” says Erin Keleske of the city’s Environmental Collaboration Office, “So people can participate however it best fits their schedules.”

5. Volunteer!

EarthDay.Org is currently recruiting virtual volunteers to help with its outreach and education efforts. 

6. Check in on the cuddly critters at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Ruth the African Elephant, Dr. Erin the Red Panda and Gabby the Gentoo Penguin all make regular appearances in the organization’s ZooViewTV, along with many other animals. 

7. Donate to environmentally minded nonprofits. 

Like the Urban Ecology Center. Every dollar makes a difference.

8. Sign up for a virtual workshop.

The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works and Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful have teamed up to organize a couple of free ones: an online recycling workshop and a home composting workshop

9. Make smart improvements to your home.

Johnson Controls makes Lux Products, a line of smart thermostats that can help you cut down on your energy use. They’re easy to install and will save you money too.

10. Spend some time outside.

County and city parks are still open to visitors. And you can easily take a stroll through your favorite green space while practicing social distancing. Milwaukee Riverkeeper is also hosting a DIY Spring Cleanup!



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.