Three Ways to Celebrate Earth Day this Year

Thursday, April 22, is Earth Day. There’s no shortage of ways to show your appreciation for nature and be a good steward of the environment, but some of the most gratifying ones are free, easy, and happening close to home.

Help Track Plastic Pollution in the Mississippi River

A new community science effort is seeking volunteers to help track plastic pollution along the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative is designed to collect data on plastic pollution at key locations.

Participants use a free mobile app called Marine Debris Tracker to report their findings at designated sampling sites. A field guide explains how to use the app, and a related knowledge hub includes links to webinars and other training materials.

Help Clean Up a Local Park

A winter’s worth of trash has likely accumulated in a park or natural area near you. Why not grab a couple of trash bags and a pair of work gloves, head outside and stage a do-it-yourself cleanup?

Minneapolis is encouraging DIY cleanups this year in lieu of its typical Earth Day cleanup events, which are cancelled due to COVID-19. (Note: Some Minneapolis neighborhoods are still holding their own separate cleanup events.)

Organized cleanup events are happening in other cities, including Columbia Heights, St. Anthony Village and St. Paul. Check your city’s website or Friends of the Mississippi River’s event list for volunteer opportunities near you.

Just Get Outside and Enjoy Nature

The simplest way to celebrate Earth Day is to simply get out and spend some time in nature. The early spring affords visitors some rare opportunities to see migrating birds and ephemeral plants in places like the Mississippi River Gorge.

Apps like iNaturalist can help guide you to some of the best locations for spotting plants and wildlife. But truthfully, spending time in just about any local park or natural area this time of year will provide a variety of mental and physical health benefits.

On a related note, the City of Fridley is hosting a social distancing-friendly Earth Day Eco-Dash interactive scavenger hunt on April 24–25, encouraging residents to get out and have fun while exploring new places. (Registration is required.)

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