Earth Day: 8 Great Ways to Participate and Celebrate

From properly disposing of unwanted medicines to planting new trees, opportunities to engage in local Earth Day activities abound

For some people, Earth Day comes and goes without much notice. For others, it represents an opportunity to ride the wave and bring attention to issues that are important to them, their families, businesses, communities and so on.

Earlier this month I wrote about my own commitment to for the month of April in honor of Earth Day and in a couple of weeks, I look forward to sharing what I have been learning.

Where ever you are on the green and simple spectrum, there are dozens of ways to get involved, for a day or for a lifetime. It all starts with one action. If you do nothing else, take one small action and then another and another. Over time, each small action adds up to create shifts in behavior and spawn the development of new patterns that can have a more positive planetary impact. 

Don't know where to start? Here are a few local events in which you can partake to get the ball rolling: 

  • Clear the Clutter the Green Way: 
    Bring two boxes of paper (up to 40 lbs) and have it shredded on site for free. If you have more than 40 lbs, pay a nominal fee to have the entire lot shredded. Shredded paper will be recycled. They will your hard drives or other memory enabled devices with sensitive personal or business information on them.  Examples: Computer hard drives, copier hard drives, cell phones, CDs, DVDs, floppy and zip disks, VHS tapes, PDAs, thumb drives, pagers, GPSs, credit cards, hotel key cards.
    Where: Shred Station Express, 5604 General Washington Dr., Alexandria
    When: Friday, April 22, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    Cost: Free! (paper up to 40 lbs)
  • Attend the Earth Day Celebration at River Farm
    Bring a picnic lunch and the entire family for some fun, earth-friendly activities in the Children’s Garden. Earth Day activities include arts and crafts, recycling games, chef demonstrations, story time, “Green Garage,” and giveaways. Co-sponsored by Patch.
    Where: River Farm, 7931 East Boulevard, Alexandria
    When: Friday, April 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Cost: Free!
    RSVP: 703-768-5700 ext. 133
  • Join the Earth Day Cleanup at the National Zoo and Stay for the Earth Day Party for the Planet
    Join zoo staff and other visitors in keeping our ecosystem healthy by picking up aluminum cans, snack food wrappers and other litter that will be sorted into recyclables and trash. Talk to members of the Zoo's Green Team about sustainability initiatives, and talk with representatives from other organizations about what ordinary people can do to build solutions to global issues such as climate change. Children can participate in fun and educational activities. Stay all day for Earth Day Party fun and bring your old small handheld devices for recycling at the Visitor Center.
    Where: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington. DC
    When: April 22, Clean-up: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Party starts at 10 a.m.
  • Participate in Green Programs at United States Botanic Garden
    Several “green” programs are being offered and many experts will be on hand to lend gardening advice. Learn about the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Landscape for Life program and how your home and neighborhood can be gardened sustainably. Other partners from throughout the region will provide fresh ideas for food, health and life. Enjoy cooking demonstrations and plan to get your hands dirty by potting a plant to take home or to your office. Also, enjoy a humorous and enlightening performance of "Just a Dream: The Green Play" featuring Walter the litterbug on Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m. in the National Garden Amphitheater.
    Where: United States Botanic Garden, National Mall, Washington DC
    When: Friday, April 22, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Drop-Off Unwanted Prescription Drugs for Proper Disposal
    While you are clearing out your clutter, clear out your medicine cabinet as well. Instead of flushing unwanted medicines down the toilet where they could negatively impact on our environment and its inhabitants, drop them off at a designated prescription drug take-back site as part of the 2nd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
    Where: Two Alexandria Police Department locations - (1) Public Safety Center, 2003 Mill Road and (2) George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive.
    When: Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Plant a tree!
    The City’s Urban Forestry Steering Committee and the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will hold a tree sale and encourages the preservation of the Alexandria’s tree canopy by residents planting trees on their private property throughout the city. Alexandria Tree Stewards and Master Gardeners will be on site to answer questions about tree selection, planting and care. Trees will be sold in five- to seven-gallon containers that residents can easily handle and plant and they will be sold at below retail market prices to encourage private planting in Alexandria.

    Residents can reserve trees for purchase in advance through April 27. No deposit is necessary. To reserve a tree, call John Noelle, City Arborist, at 703-746-5499 or email john.noelle@alexandriava.gov. Advance tree orders may be picked up between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 30. Reserved trees that are not picked up by 10 a.m. on the day of the sale will be made available to the public.
    Where: Ben Brenman Park, 4800 Brenman Park Dr.
    When: Saturday, April 30, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Attend Alexandria’s Earth Day Celebration 
    The event focuses on efficient and eco-friendly transportation options such as walking, bicycling, ridesharing, and riding public transit. Activities include recycling and composting demonstrations, live music, an Arbor Day tree planting, a performance by Blue Sky Puppets, a launch of the Eco-City Action Plan Phase II and a Trashion show showcasing fashion made out of trash. Please stop by the Alexandria Patch booth and say hello!
    Where: Ben Brenman Park, Alexandria
    When: Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Happy Earth Day to all!


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