This year on April 22, the world will celebrate Earth Day for the 49th time. When you think about it, Earth Day is the perfect celebration for people in recovery. It’s all about making a fresh start and transforming something that was problematic into something that’s positive. Earth Day celebrates our ability as humans and members of the world community to be proactive and make changes in our lives that really make a difference—and that’s something anyone in recovery can relate to.
Earth Day is also wonderful for people in recovery because of the activities. In that spirit, here are the best Earth Day Activities that can actually help your recovery.
There are events scheduled in towns across the United States on Earth Day, many of them in parks. So take this opportunity to make a park day of it. Pack a lunch, bring a blanket, and get ready to spend a gorgeous day outside in your favorite park.
Take Action Close to Home
Earth Day doesn’t have to be about huge changes. It can be about making positive changes one step at a time. This year, go greener in little ways, close to home. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Start composting. Donate your old clothes and linens to a shelter or a textile recycling center. Help at a local community garden.
Use Alternative Forms of Transportation
If you usually drive everywhere, make Earth Day the day you bike, walk, or use the bus or light rail. Or set up a carpool and see how it goes for the day. You never know—you might just stumble onto a great new habit!
Learn Something New and Green
Unless you’re already an expert, learn about our ecosystem in honor of Earth Day. Want some great book suggestions? Here are a few great new Earth Day relevant options:
- Never Out of Season: How Having the Food We Want When We Want It Threatens Our Food Supply and Our Future by Rob Dunn
- Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes by Bill McGuire
- A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier by David Welky
- Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive by Mark L. Winston
Or, if you’d rather catch up with a classic, go for Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, the book that helped start it all.
Take a Hike
That’s right—get out there and hike. Enjoy being away from things for awhile. It’s healthy for anyone, but for people in recovery, exercise helps replace those pleasure chemicals that have been missing, and it feels wonderful. It also helps you rebuild your body’s strength and resilience.
Citizen science has been extremely popular lately, and no wonder. Scientists need help with their research, and they often don’t have enough support. Everyday people often find science interesting, but don’t know where to start. Now that websites with citizen science projects are connecting scientists with a need to people in the community who want to help, amazing things are happening.
Find cool citizen science projects to get involved with online: SciStarter, National Geographic, Zooniverse, and Scientific American are all good places to start. Many projects you can do online at home, but if you’d rather get out and about, there are lots of projects that let you do that too. Enjoy your time as a (sober) citizen scientist!
If you haven’t already, make a point of going paperless with your bills this Earth Day. Switching to online invoices and ebills saves millions of trees annually, so why not help that trend along? Obviously only do this if it won’t cause you undue stress—but if you’re open to trying it, it’s a great option.
Give Up the Bottle (of Water)
If you’re a bottled water drinker, consider stopping this costly, unsustainable habit in honor of Earth Day. Bottled water costs up to 10,000 times more than tap water, and it’s held to lower quality standards. Some bottled water is really just tap water anyway! It’s not regulated very strictly. The growing consumption of bottled water in the US is also taking a serious toll on the environment, consuming around 1.5 million barrels of oil every year just to make the bottles—most of which end up in landfills. Bottling water also causes water shortages.
So this year, give up the other bottle for Earth Day.
Dig In Around the House and Yard
You don’t have to go out to an event for Earth Day; you can get busy around the house or yard. Earth Day is the perfect time to plant a new tree in your yard or neighborhood. It’s also a great time to plant flowers or food in a garden, or a window box, depending on where you live. If your faucets have been leaking, take the day to fix them and conserve that water. Build a birdhouse or a bat house outside and get ready for some company.
Do Earth Day Your Way
So often for people in recovery holidays and special events are anxiety-producing, or just depressing. It’s not easy to get through New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day, for example, without partying like you used to. Other holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day might bring up past conflicts with people in your life, and again, it makes getting through it all a challenge while you’re recovering.
But for once, with Earth Day, you get a holiday and lots of fun events that are really nothing like those other days. Earth Day is all about starting fresh and being healthy—a natural fit for people in recovery. So make this Earth Day special and celebrate it your way, in good health.