Happy Earth Day! 7 Ways to Celebrate

"Oceanize" your Facebook photo or donate to the Ocean Conservancy, to help battle ocean trash that can ensnare wildlife, such as this sea lion.

"Oceanize" your Facebook photo or donate to the Ocean Conservancy to help the organization's battle with ocean trash that can ensnare wildlife, such as this monk seal.

We recently came across a thought-provoking column by Yasmine Ryan called “Why Climate Change is Worse for Women.” Ryan cites a U.N. report that climate change affects poor women the most — and women make up 70 percent of the world’s impoverished. Because women also make up the majority of farmers and are responsible for collecting water and wood in poor nations, droughts, water shortages, deforestation and natural disasters have a bigger impact on women and their livelihoods. We believe having our voices heard regarding climate change is important, so, in honor of Earth Day, we’ve collected seven ways to take action!

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day — and though four decades have created a lot of awareness about the environment, we still have a long way to go. Because of global warming, 10 percent of plant species currently are under threat of extinction and, since the mid ’70s, the Arctic ice pack has lost an area twice the size of Texas. Following are just a few ways to get involved this April 22 (and beyond).

  • If Earth Day inspires you to help the impoverished women affected by climate change, Ryan notes that Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet is working to give women a stronger voice in the discussion of the issue. Write your senators, asking them to include international assistance for the world’s poorest people to adapt to climate change in a comprehensive U.S. climate and energy bill. Read Oxfam’s blog and see women tell their stories. You also can take the Sisters on the Planet Pledge, find a local Sisters event and order a free DVD and action guide.
  • Sign the Earth Day 2010 Climate Declaration — designed to help motivate Congress to support comprehensive climate legislation — to be presented during the Climate Rally on April 25 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Or RSVP if you can attend the rally, held from 11 am to 7 pm. The event will be streamed live on EarthDay.org and will include performances from Sting, John Legend, the Roots, Passion Pit, Joss Stone, Willie Colón and more. Notable speakers include environmental photographer Sebastian Copeland, film director James Cameron, Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong, actress Trudie Styler, Rev. Jesse Jackson and author Margaret Atwood. Earth Day Network is sponsoring free buses from New York City; Philadephia; Pittsburgh; Baltimore; Cleveland; Columbus, OH; Charleston, WV; Richmond, VA, and Charlottesville, NC. Buses depart early the morning of the rally and return after the event.
  • Check out the Earth Day Action Center for events such as concerts, festivals, film screenings, walks or runs and even speed dating for environmental causes. Sort campaigns by Core Issues, including water, food and agriculture, conservation and biodiversity, sustainability and education. Or search by locations or keyword.
  • If you “oceanize” your Facebook profile picture, Coca-Cola will donate $1 (up to $200,000) to the Ocean Conservancy through May 12. Sign into Facebook, select one of four ocean backgrounds and upload a photo from your Facebook album or computer! Donations to Ocean Conservancy will be matched through May 7.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency encourages you to pick five actions to help the environment. Click on a category — advocacy, waste, energy, land, air or water — and select some of the options, such as “Learn about composting” or “Use only the water you need, and reuse when possible.” Become a fan of the Pick 5 for the Environment on Facebook and share photos of your own environmental actions on the EPA Pick 5 Flickr page.
  • Pledge one green act — such as taking reusable bags to the supermarket or making a local/organic meal — on the website of the Sierra Club through April 30, and you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to Hawaii. The prize includes two round-trip tickets to the Big Island and accommodations for five nights at the eco-friendly Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. It’s easy to share with your friends — simply click on the Facebook, Twitter or e-mail icons. Voting also helps to turn your state green on Sierra Club’s map, which shows the states with the most pledges (proportional to population) as the greenest!
  • Learn more about the origins of Earth Day. Check out EarthWeek.us for Earth Day’s history, photos and videos.

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?

Photo credit: Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)