10 things to do for Earth Day to show you care

earth day heart
Mark Earth Day 2024 this month with a planet-friendly outdoor activity (Image credit: Getty Images)

We are marking Earth Day with a list of 10 things to do to demonstrate your support for environmental protection. The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, and today it's followed by a billion people in almost 200 countries worldwide. This year, Earthday.org's theme is "Planet versus Plastics”.

1. Hug a tree

A person hugging a tree in a forest

Trees are great for the environment – and good for mental health, too (Image credit: Getty Images)

Trees soak up carbon dioxide, which is known to be the chief greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. This means that trees are widely seen as crucial for tackling climate change.

You could go for a walk, run or bike ride today and find a tree to hug. If you are lucky enough to live near some of the world’s largest trees, such as Giant Redwoods, then all the better.

Tree hugging is also believed to bring great mental health benefits. Research shows a variety of advantages to spending time around trees – by forest bathing, for example – including a boosted immune system, reduced stress and lower blood pressure.

2. Make the most of 'blue spaces'

A person wild swimming in a lake

Wild swimming is the perfect blue space activity on Earth Day (Image credit: Getty Images)

Reports suggest that plastics are choking our planet and, in particular, the effects of plastic waste are witnessed in our oceans, lakes and rivers. As well as pledging to personally reduce the amount of plastic you use and waste by, for example, using reusable water bottles, and buying products that are free of plastic packaging, you could seek out a “blue space” that you most love on Earth Day.

Hopefully, your chosen blue space is clean and free of waste and can offer you a place to reap the rewards of both mental and physical good health. Blue spaces are increasingly shown by researchers to have a positive impact on human health, promoting physical activity and increasing mental restoration.

Blue space activities include wild swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkelling.

3. Ditch the car – and go for a hike or bike 

earth day bicycle graphic

Cycling is environmentally friendly (Image credit: Getty Images)

A simple activity to mark Earth Day is to leave your car at home and use a much more environmentally friendly form of transport, such as public transport, a bicycle, scooter or even your feet to go for a hike

A study shows the significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution if you ditch the automobile in favor of walking, cycling or e-biking. 

4. Turn off the lights – and look up the stars

A parent and child using a telescope outside a tent

Try star gazing on Earth Day (Image credit: Getty Images)

Reducing your energy use helps the environment because most power sources produce pollution or greenhouse gases when burned. Instead of turning on the lights at home in the evening, you could choose to spend time outdoors doing something fun.

If it’s a clear night, how about a spot of star gazing? It’s a good idea to take a trip to a place of less light pollution, which usually means being away from urban places. 

Since it’s Earth Day, you might want to use public transport or propel yourself on foot or by bicycle to reach a location where you can spend some time studying the night sky.

5. Choose eco-camping 

A tent pitched in view of a beautiful mountain

Take the opportunity to go off-grid by camping (Image credit: Getty Images)

Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a few days of camping, especially a back-to-basics style of camping that keeps your impact on the environment as low as possible.

Eco, or sustainable, camping is sleeping outdoors in a way that leaves the smallest negative impact possible on the natural environment. To be more eco-friendly while camping you should think carefully about what you pack and what you do while camping, following leave no trace principles.

6. Teach your kids how to care for the outdoors 

child with drawing of a growing plant

Teach kids how to care for our planet (Image credit: Getty Images)

Children are quick learners and they learn even more by example, so Earth Day is the time to focus on a few fun lessons to teach them more about the importance of looking after the environment. 

How about coming up with a top-five to-do list, thinking about how you could recycle more, buy second hand, use less plastic, walk or cycle more, or grow more fresh food.

7. Check out the Sierra Club

America's most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization, the Sierra Club, is promoting a long list of activities and events for Earth Day 2024. There are hikes, backpackers' meet-ups, clean-ups, planet-focussed talks and much more.

8. Go plogging

Four people taking a break from plogging

Do your bit to keep the planet clean by plogging  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Plogging is ideal for runners who care about the planet. Plogging is the activity of litter picking while running. The word “plogging" is a combination of the words “jogging” and “plocka", which means 'to pick” in Swedish.

9. Plan an Earth-friendly vacation

A bike set up for bikepacking in front of a waterfall

Bikepacking is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your vacation (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

With the summer finally on its way in the northern hemisphere, many people will be keen to make plans for a vacation but you could aim to resist booking a flight or choosing a long drive, both of which cause environment-damaging pollution. Instead, think about an outdoors break closer to home such as a staycation.

Vacations that reduce your impact on climate change might include hiking and backpacking, bikepacking and eco camping. 

10. Volunteer on Earth Day

Glass jar of volunteer plants from garden on slate surface with gardening gloves in foreground

Volunteering is rewarding and can be a great way to give back to our planet (Image credit: Getty Images)

Parks across the United States host volunteer events on Earth Day. The National Park Service has a calendar of volunteer events at parks, or see volunteer.gov for more volunteer opportunities for Earth Day and any time of year.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.