April 21, 2020

How to Celebrate Earth Day While Social Distancing - 30 Ways to Connect Outdoors & Virtually

Hug a tree, not each other.

It’s how we’ll be celebrating Earth Day 2020, in the face of this global pandemic.

This pandemic has undeniably reshaped life across our beautiful planet. Cities have shut down, businesses have closed, restaurants are solely offering takeout, sports seasons have come to an unexpected end, full time jobs are being done remotely and the kids are home from school. Sigh, the kids are home from school. 

Safe to say, this pandemic has affected each and every one of us.

One thing it hasn’t affected is our ability to celebrate Earth Day. With social distancing in affect, we may not be able to hug each other, but we can definitely still hug a tree and celebrate Mother Nature and the planet we call home.

How to Celebrate Earth Day While Social Distancing - Outdoors & Virtually

How did Earth Day begin?

In 1970, US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin had the idea for a national day to focus and raise awareness on environmental challenges. On April 22, his idea inspired 20 million Americans (at the time, 10% of the US population) to take to the streets, college campuses and cities to demand a new way forward for our planet. 

The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement, and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event. Earth Day was, and continues to be, a unified response to an environment in crisis.

This Wednesday, April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. 

With social distancing guidelines still in place across the world, Earth Day will look a little different this year. But rest assured, it will still take place. 

While in-person community events are out of the picture for the most part, there are still many ways to celebrate Earth Day's 50th anniversary whether it is virtually online, at home or in your neighbourhood.

How to Celebrate Earth Day While Social Distancing - Outdoors & Virtually

Here are 30 ways to that YOU and your family can celebrate Earth Day, while social distancing.

How to Celebrate Earth Day While Social Distancing


1. Create some sidewalk art with chalk - bring a smile to those passing by!

2. Have a picnic on your porch or in your backyard (if weather allows). 

3. Green your space! Build a vegetable garden in your backyard. Plant some vegetable seedlings indoors. (Most suppliers such as Home Depot Canada, Canadian Tire, Lowe’s, etc. will allow you to order supplies online and pickup curb-side.)

4. Create a fun social distancing mood board, such as this one we did. Have some fun with it, and make it outdoors related!

4. Hang a birdhouse or bird feeder and watch who visits. How many different types of birds do you see?

5. Take a walk around the neighbourhood and look for flowers.

6. Go on a neighbourhood scavenger hunt. One of ours can be found here.

7. Ditch the single use plastics! Decorate a reusable water bottle.

8. Teach your kids about the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle!

9. Take the opportunity to do some spring cleaning around the house and in the garden. 

10. Start running, or sign up for a virtual run! This website has a comprehensive list of virtual runs from across the world, all supporting different charities. 

11. Go for a walk and collect sticks, leaves, etc. Bring them home and create your own art project!

12. Play with bubbles! (You're never too old to play with bubbles.)

13. Get up early to watch the sunrise. Stay up late to watch the sunrise.

14. Pull out your camera and go on a photo safari around your neighbourhood.

Remember, before going outside check your local restrictions before heading out and stick close to home, so you don’t spread the virus elsewhere.

And if you can’t get outdoors, here are some ways to celebrate Earth Day from the comfort of your home. 


15. Support local - shop online at your favourite small shop, order takeout from your favourite local restaurants or even buy a produce box from your local farming co-op. 

16. Inspire the next generation of scientists, explorers and conservations in your house with Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants. Live stream topics include oceans, biodiversity, women in science, space exploration, ocean plastics, climate change and more. 

17. Check out one of the many amazing documentaries about animals and the environment on your favourite streaming service. Our favourites can be found on Disney+ and Netflix.

18. Check our your favourite zoos and aquariums to see what virtual learning resources they are offering. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has a comprehensive daily calendar of live streams and activities. 

19. Tune into Earth Day Network’s Earth Day Live 2020 - they have an all-star lineup of speakers and performers. The 15-hour stream will run from from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST. 

20. Take a virtual tour through a US National Park, such as Yellowstone National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska or Joshua Tree National Park in California, to name a few.

21. Check out Earth from space with Google Earth. Can you find where you live?

22. Check out "NASA Science Live" on Wednesday at 3pm EST (NASA TV and YouTube), featuring NASA experts discussing how NASA plays a big role in understanding and improving the earth.

23. Check out virtual programming offered at your favourite museums and science centres.

24. Go ‘scuba diving’ on the Great Barrier Reef with Sir David Attenborough (think Planet Earth) as your guide. Learn about the animals that call this reef home, its importance in our everyday life and the threats it faces. 

25. Check out the cherry blosson "Bloom Cam" at the National Mall, a 24/7, live, real-time look at one of the most popular and beloved sites in Washington, DC. The blossoms signal the arrival of spring and symbolize hope, renewal, and friendship.

26. Start to plan your next vacation. There are lots of great online resources to inspire you travel plans, including Lonely Planet, Frommer’s and even social media. Search your favourite travel-related hashtags on Instagram - #travel, #goexplore, #wanderlust, for example.

27. Create some earth-inspired art! There are many great resources online to inspire your own art project. For example, the Bob Ross ‘Joy of Painting’ series is available to watch on YouTube, where you can learn to paint a beautiful landscape. 

28. Explore available online environment related curriculum activities with you kids. If you are a  water lover and city dweller like me, these activities to help understand the urban watershed may be of interest to you. 

29. Use the US Environment Protection Agency's online Carbon Footprint calculator to learn how you daily activities affect the environment. 

30. For those high school and university students and parents looking to learn more, check out Coursera, which offers courses, certificates and degrees online from world-class universities and companies. Check out this free course about exploring the Arctic, offered by the University of Colorado. 

Also, don’t forget to check out these 50 essential outdoor activities for Spring for more things you can do with your family this season. 

How to Celebrate Earth Day While Social Distancing - Outdoors & Virtually

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. 

How will you celebrate Earth Day while social distancing? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


How to Celebrate Earth Day While Social Distancing - Outdoors & Virtually

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