10 Ways To Participate in Earth Day and Sustain the Momentum

(Karsten Würth / Unsplash)(Karsten Würth / Unsplash)

The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet,” a call to action that encourages people, businesses and governments to build healthy cities, countries and economies.

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In the Chicago region, there are scores of ways for people to take part in the global movement not just April 22 but throughout Earth Week and beyond. Here are 10 ways get involved.

1. Restore

Friends of the Parks is coordinating cleanups at more than 50 Chicago parks Saturday, including hub sites at McKinley Park, North Park Village Nature Center, Ogden Park and Douglass Park, where a post-cleanup party will include free mini-golf at Douglass 18. For more info, visit the organization’s Earth Day website.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is also hosting cleanups at several preserves. People can help pull invasive garlic mustard throughout the weekend at the district’s Sagawau Environmental Learning Center in Lemont.

2. Shop Sustainably

Chicago Environmentalists has compiled an ever-growing online directory of environmentally responsible businesses, organizations and services. Search for everything from composting options to natural lawncare providers.

3. Watch

Organizers of the One Earth Film Festival are hosting a mini Earth Day film fest of virtual watch parties and in-person screenings, followed by discussions. Highlights include Bob Dolgan’s popular “Monty and Rose 2,” the story of Chicago’s beloved piping plovers, as well as the Chicago premiere of “Mottainai Kitchen,” a culinary road movie that tackles the issue of food waste in Japan. The film fest runs through Sunday; view the schedule online.

4. Plant With Purpose

Native plants provide loads of environmental benefits, from offering food and habitat to wildlife to helping with stormwater absorption. Lake County Forest Preserves is holding a free program on the basics of gardening with native plants. The online session runs 7-8:15 p.m., Thursday. Advance registration is required and spaces are limited.

Not sure where to find native plants? Check out plant sales like Openlands’, currently underway.

5. Revolt

The Chicago Architecture Center’s latest exhibit, “Energy Revolution,“ demonstrates the technologies and design features available now to make net-zero buildings a reality, along with steps people can take to use less energy. Check out the exhibit’s kinetic dance floor, which captures energy from dancing, and a scale model of the Hancock Center that shows how retrofitting can help reduce energy loss. The exhibit runs through Oct. 17.

A scale model of the Hancock Center shows how retrofitting can help reduce energy loss. (Chicago Architecture Center / David Hernandez)A scale model of the Hancock Center shows how retrofitting can help reduce energy loss. (Chicago Architecture Center / David Hernandez)

6. Reuse, Recycle

Reducing waste is key to a healthier planet. Here are multiple opportunities to keep stuff out of landfill.

— The Plant’s Reuse-a-Palooza is a one-stop shop for repairing clothing and household items and recycling/repurposing tricky things like keys, eyeglasses or worn-out gym shoes. Check out the complete list of items accepted during the event, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 1400 W. 46th St.

— Brookfield Zoo is collecting electronics, textiles and used books for recycling/repurposing Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., north parking lot. The zoo has supplied a comprehensive description of what is and isn’t being accepted.

— The Chicago Tool Library and Chicago Public Library are teaming up for a repair fair. Bring broken bikes, appliances, jewelry and more and work with repair volunteers to fix them. Saturday, 1-4 p.m., Back of the Yards branch library, 2111 W. 47th St.

7. Rebuild

The “Make It, Take It” workshop by Rebuilding Exchange will show you how to turn a piece of salvaged wood into a planter. It’s a woodworking project that’s great for beginners. Cost is $40, plants not included. Registration required. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1740 W. Webster Ave.

8. Observe

The region’s conservation and environmental researchers can’t be everywhere at once. Help them out by downloading the iNaturalist app and recording your observations of plants and wildlife. Shedd Aquarium’s Great Lakes Fish Finder is just one of the many iNaturalist projects that benefits from community scientists.

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Budburst program is another way for the average person to contribute to ecological research and plant conservation. Find out how to join the effort.

9. Capture

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is offering discounted rain barrels. Help build Chicago’s green infrastructure by using the barrels keep stormwater from overwhelming Chicago’s sewer system by capturing rain from roofs. 

10. Discover

The Chicago region is awash in opportunities to appreciate nature, surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of protected preserves and natural areas, from beaches to parks, forests to wetlands, bogs to prairies. Not sure where to start? Openlands’ Get Outside Map has a searchable database of more than 400 locations that can be filtered by location, activity or amenities.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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