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Molly Greenwood’s Blog

Spending Earth Day in Our Own Backyard

Molly Greenwood

Posted April 21, 2010

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 Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub in Coldwater Canyon Park

With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day fast approaching, the Eco Committee here in NRDC’s Santa Monica office has been hard at work planning a week’s worth of events worthy of commemorating four decades of environmental activism and awareness.  Our first two “Earth Week” activities took place this past weekend – on Saturday we attended a beach cleanup with Heal the Bay, and on Sunday we enrolled in a free California Native Plant Workshop offered by Treepeople.  Both events were a big success and offered not only the valuable opportunity for us to interact with other environmental organizations in the community, but also the chance to learn something new about the beautiful natural landscapes that surround us here in Southern California.  Perhaps most importantly, these activities helped remind us that the best motivation for saving the environment is getting out and experiencing it firsthand.  Simply spending time outside in the sunshine renewed my dedication to preserving this incredible place we call home; waves crashed and wildflowers bloomed before our eyes, and each gust of fresh breeze carried the fragrance of spring.  And on top of that, I learned all about marine debris, urban storm water runoff, the limits of catch basins, Los Angeles’ Mediterranean climate zone, the importance of preserving native plant life, and how to tell the difference between plant specimens along the trail. 


Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22nd – why not take this opportunity to pitch in, take part, expand your knowledge, or plan something fun and informative for your community, family, or group of friends?  Here are a few ideas:


  • Plan a clean-up event.  Many environmental clubs and nonprofits plan community clean-up events (especially around Earth Day), so save yourself some time and logistical footwork by checking your local paper, community website, or bulletin board for offerings that may already be on the calendar.  You can also consider coordinating something yourself – it doesn’t need to be big!  Contact your friends and relatives and suggest meeting at a centrally-located public space to pick up trash.  Reward yourself for all your hard work with a picnic afterward!  Use the opportunity to spend time outdoors with loved ones while giving some TLC to a favorite neighborhood natural area. 
  • Learn something new.  Libraries, colleges, community centers, and city cultural services departments offer all kinds of informative classes and workshops, and many plan special eco-minded events for Earth Day.  These programs are usually for free or priced very reasonably.  Take advantage of the resources your community has to offer, or volunteer your time to share your knowledge with others!  Do you have a green thumb?  Know all the best secrets about chemical-free cleaning?  Step up and let your friends and family know!
  • Cook up something fresh.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to whip up a feast from all the best seasonal, local produce the soil has to offer?  Take a trip to the Farmers’ Market and stock up on vibrant, fragrant, and nutrient-rich fruits and veggies.  Invite your loved ones over for an Earth Day potluck and share your favorite recipes.  Chop, dice, shred, mince, or sauté up something special and bring it into the office to wow your colleagues.  If you don’t have access to a farmers’ market, try to select organic and seasonal produce from the grocery store.
  • Kick back with a flick.  There are hundreds of environmental documentaries out there covering virtually every topic, so why not pick up a DVD from your local video store or subscription service?  You could even make it an eco-date (dinner and a movie, anyone?) by combining your culinary adventures in local/seasonal ingredients with a home movie viewing.
  • Don’t drive.  Consider designating one day during the week as “don’t drive day,” and encourage your friends and family to do the same.  Talk to your HR department or office manager about organizing an office-wide initiative to encourage alternative transportation.  Free bagels and juice might sweeten the deal – especially for those that choose to combine exercise with their commute by walking or riding a bike to work!  Provide bus and subway maps to those that need help navigating a car-free route. 
  • Hit the trail.  Do some research to find a hiking trail with a manageable difficulty level.  Pack a tasty lunch, lace up your boots, put on your hat, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water.  Invite your friends along and take photos to share with those who can’t make it. 


Next up for the Eco Committee – a Fair Trade coffee and chocolate tasting day, a Sustainable Foods day, and a naturalist-led hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.  It’s a good thing Earth Day is really every day, because we’re having a blast!

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Inge SchwartzApr 21 2010 09:52 PM

Absolutely fabulous and informative. Will do my best to follow your advice.

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