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Earth Day 2024

Everywhere you look, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and rivers are flowing. Mother Earth is glowing in her splendor, and there are numerous reasons to celebrate her, as well as the environmental advances made over the last half-century on Earth Day.

Now in its 54th year, Earth Day is sometimes called Mother Earth Day. It was first observed in 1970 by an estimated 20 million people engaged in environmental festivities across the nation. Although a peace activist named John McConnell proposed a day of peace and a day to honor the Earth in 1969, it was Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who rallied other politicians and activists to organize campus teach-ins. So, the first official Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. Today, more than 1 billion people in over 200 countries celebrate Earth Day.

Planet vs. Plastics

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics. Although plastics are among some of the most revolutionary innovations, they can be problematic and have long-term impacts. According to EarthDay.org, plastic pollution is an issue affecting animal, human, and environmental health worldwide. There is ongoing research to understand the impacts of plastics on nature, as well as society. Some researchers believe plastic consumption is among the leading causes of some human health problems because of its increasing appearance in the food chain.

Globally, humans produce around 350 million tons of plastic waste yearly. Only a fraction is recycled or burned in waste-to-energy facilities. A significant percentage of plastic waste ends up in landfills and soil and water resources, eventually disintegrating into smaller particles known as microplastics (less than five millimeters in size). To learn more about microplastics, view the Eco-Friendly Fridays webinar Microplastics: Tiny Pollutant, Big Problem by Sarah Zach, a pollution prevention specialist with the University of Illinois Extension. You can also read the Extension article, Plastics in the Environment written by Urban Regional Extension Agent Allyson Shabel.

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Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Alabama Extension encourages all residents to become Earth Day heroes and do what they can to protect the environment, its inhabitants, and natural resources from plastics and other contaminants of emerging concern. The following are some ways to celebrate Earth Day and to protect the environment throughout the year.

  • Recycle plastic, glass, and paper whenever possible.
  • Purchase products that are made with sustainable materials.
  • Learn more about plastic and its hazards to the planet.
  • Take reusable bags to the grocery store to reduce plastic use.
  • Use reusable lunch bags, dishes, cups, and eating utensils.
  • Determine your plastic eco-score.
  • Use glass bottles or reuse plastic bottles whenever possible
  • Use the internet more and use less paper, which saves trees.
  • Create a recycling station in your home.
  • Calculate your carbon footprint.
  • Organize a community cleanup event.
  • Turn off lights when they are not in use.
  • Buy locally sourced food or start an organic garden.
  • Learn about the history of Earth Day.
  • Learn about the impacts of climate change.
  • Build a birdhouse, bird nesting bundle, or bird feeder.
  • Plant a tree or tree seedling.
  • Switch appliances that are not in use.
  • Recycle electronic products.
  • Purchase an electric automobile.
  • Plant a wildflower garden to attract pollinators.
  • Start a compost pile in your backyard.
  • Install a rain barrel to conserve water.
  • Participate in a community cleanup.
  • Dispose of hazardous products
  • Purchase office supplies made from recycled materials.
  • Walk more and ride a bike to work instead of driving.
  • Inspire someone to be a better environmental steward.
  • Create an Earth month calendar for your family.
  • Celebrate Earth Day with your family.

Youth Activities

Earth Day activities can be fun and exciting. They can also empower the next generation to impact the planet positively. Youth throughout the state are invited to join Alabama Extension in celebrating Earth Day 2024. Below are a host of digital learning experiences and eco-friendly activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Also, check out this youth Earth Day Calendar resource by Subject to Climate.

Other Eco-Friendly Activities 

More Earth Day Learning

Spend time this month thinking about ways to practice good environmental stewardship to protect the planet from plastic’s impacts. You can learn more about achieving a plastic-free future by also visiting EARTHDAY.ORG and exploring its action Earth Day 2024 Toolkit. Challenge yourself to recycle more, conserve natural resources, reduce pollution, and respect the environment and all living things.


This work is supported by the Renewable Resources Extension Act grant no. ALAX-ACES-4816/project accession no. 101297 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.