The ELL guide to Earth Day

What to do, where to go and how to get involved this Earth Day. By Kate Balding and Rachel Keenan

Earth Day comes around every year on April 22 and has been celebrated since 1970. The first event was organised by Senator Nelson, a US representative keen to improve protections for the natural world, and since then, the campaign has grown globally to address inequalities from pollution to the climate crisis.

Today, Earth Day is an opportunity to slow down, reflect on our actions, and get stuck into a whole host of individual and collective celebrations. The theme for 2024 is “Planet vs Plastics”, and the big message is for a 60% reduction in the production of plastics by 2040.

To learn how you can help reach this target, has a range of advice on topics, including how to detox from plastic, where to find your nearest street clean-ups, and how to use art to spread eco-awareness. For those who would prefer to get hands-on more locally, our guide provides all the inspiration and opportunities you’ll need.

ELL’s Guide to Earth Day Activities:

If you’re looking for an Earth Day activity that’s dry and warm, a watch party might be a great way to catch up on environmental series like Planet Earth or Blue Planet. To make your party really pop, why not order some environmentally-friendly decorations from WasteEnders or, if you’re looking for a local twist, watch Brockley-based fairytale Whispers on the Wind.

This short film was produced by Mercury-award-nominee and Lewisham-based, Ayse Hassan, with the tree-themed narrative taking watchers on a sweeping tour of the neighbourhoods’ most charismatic canopies. If you’re a foodie you could even try and cater for the event with completely vegan snacks or have a go being vegan for the day.

For some moral support for your climate worries, joining a climate cafe and grabbing a coffee with some like-minded people could also be a great way to dip your toes into the environmental scene. Many are hosted online so you can join from wherever you are or why not check out Lewisham’s latest climate cafe opening?

Want an excuse for a spring clean? Try hosting a second-hand clothes swap. This is a fun way to get rid of old clothing while gaining a new wardrobe in the process and it helps keep our hands off fast fashion! Hackney Wick is also hosting an Earth Day second-hand market on Sunday 21st April which could be a climate-friendly way to find some vintage gems.

If you’re feeling ambitious, why not go one step further and challenge yourself by going completely waste-free for Earth Day. See how much can be recycled or reused instead of thrown in landfills, and if you’re looking for further information about how waste is tackled in your borough, our very own ELL podcast series may be a good place to start demystifying local recycling.

Sadly, no Earth Day activities have been announced by ELL’s borough councils so far this year, so perhaps take this as your incentive to engage politically – Earth Day is a great excuse to send a letter to your local MP. In these, you can make sure the environmental issues on your doorstep are being heard and by enlisting the support of MPs, you can help scale up national sustainability efforts. 

If getting down and dirty is more your thing, why not get involved in a community green space project to keep our boroughs flourishing.

In Hackney, the Tree Musketeers have Tree Care Groups for areas including Daubeney Fields, Hackney Downs, Mabley Green, Millfields, Springfield Park and Well Street Common. Here, or in groups such as Clissold Park Users Group, you can find details of opportunities to lend a hand with watering and maintenance throughout the year.

In Lewisham, you can become a Tree Guardian with Street Trees for Living, by committing to water a specific street tree for two years between March and October. Alternatively, look for your local “Friends of” groups such as Friends of Brookmill Park, who have gardening and planning groups dedicated to helping others connect with green spaces.

In Tower Hamlets, Trees for Cities often runs tree planting opportunities in Victoria Park, and if you set up your own “Friends of” group, Tower Hamlets Council will supply you with bulbs for planting, tools, equipment and publicity to help you get started. Existing “Park Friends” groups include Arnold Circus, Bethnal Green, Ion Square, Mile End Park, Meath Gardens, Ropemakers Fields, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, Victoria Park, and Weavers Field.

In Croydon, a movement called Trees4Croydon runs mass participation and engagement initiatives to raise money for tree-planting in disadvantaged areas of the borough, or if you are more interested in flowers than trees, the Purley Bloomers encourage volunteers to help improve public spaces and positive social interaction through urban floral transformations. Friends of Foxley Wood is also a great local community that works in partnership with Croydon Council to care for Foxley Wood Local Nature Reserve.

From clothes-swap parties to environmental groups, however you get involved in Earth Day 2024, there are plenty of ways to reconnect with nature and shrug off any lingering climate fatigue.

Want to learn more about local responses to the climate crisis? See the rest of the Climate Refresh series here.

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