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Today is the 50th celebration of Earth Day, and as I researched through the cancelled events, I felt a sadness that this historic day could not be celebrated in the way it deserves.

But even though we are sheltering in place and can’t get together for Earth Day, this is a great chance to reflect on how we as individuals can reduce harm on the planet.  What are you doing from inside your own home to push for change this Earth Day? What will you to do to ensure clean water, breathable air for all, and respect for the Earth?

We all can still undertake daily changes to reduce harm to the environment and protect our resources.  

  • We can still clean the trails and around our neighborhoods.  
  • We can recognize our personal consumption and try to send less waste to the landfills. 
  • We can use more rags, and fewer paper towels.
  • We can bring reusable bags, when possible, to shop.
  • We can “get wild” and plant a native garden.

As with most events in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Earth Day has gone online, with educational videos, songs, and interactive contests to clean neighborhoods or parks. For example,  Water Rocks! Is an award-winning statewide youth water education campaign based on the campus of Iowa State University that has moved everything to virtual. Visit their website to access free water education at  


If you’re missing seeing flowers bloom, check out the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens and Chicago Botanic Garden’s websites for beautiful photos in their gardens.  

Here are more Earth Day events based in Illinois and Iowa:

Family Fun:

Water Rocks! Earth Week Chalk Challenge, Create a themed sidewalk chalk masterpiece and post your photo as a comment on Facebook or Twitter. Choose from the themes of biodiversity, ways people can help the Earth or Earth Day Every Day, and why it’s important to keep water clean and protect nature. Post at the Earth Week Chalk Challenge by 5 pm Friday, April 24.

Water Rocks! Earth Week Art from Nature, Gather natural objects and arrange them artistically.  Post to Water Rocks! Facebook or Instagram tagging #artworksstudio and #waterrocksisu by 5 pm Friday, April 24.

Get Up and Move!

Earth Day Neighborhood Clean Up, Pick up a grocery bag full of garbage in your neighborhood; post and be eligible for a prize. 9 am – 8 pm, Rock Island, Illinois

Virtual Yoga at the Garden, Enjoy a yoga session in the beauty of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, featuring graceful movements and  challenging postures to improve posture, flexibility, and focus while cultivating a sense of serenity. 6pm, Free on Facebook.

Earth-inspiring Art:

EARTH DAY VIRTUAL MINI FILM FEST: Find sustainability-themed films and talks that help us understand climate change, sustainability and the power of human involvement. Find films all week long at the website; free registration required for Zoom or conference call viewings with discussion. 


Virtual Earth Day Celebration, Millennials for Climate Action is asking the public to share art, music, or poetry that supports the theme of “Earth Love.” The group is also hosting a game of trivia and a giveaway at the end of the day with prizes. Find the event link on their Facebook Page. 

Friends of the Parks: Pay homage to Chicago’s green spaces either through a drawing, poem or nature art project. Share work on social media using, #HealthyParksHealthyChicago, #ParksAreOurFriends and #EarthDay2020.


Shedd Aquarium: Share drawings of animals that inspire you, using the hashtag #EarthMonthIn and @ActWithShedd on Twitter. 

Campaign for Nature petition: Support the Global 30 x 30 movement by signing this petition to protect 30% of land, sea and freshwater habitats by 2030.

The Museum of Science and Industry. See the James Balog documentary “The Human Element,” which captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. Balog is also a photographer and founder of the Extreme Ice Survey, a photographic study of glaciers, on display at the museum. Film starts at 7 p.m.

Chicago Earth Day Town Hall. Look at how COVID-19 presents specific danger to workers, undocumented immigrants, Black, brown, Indigenous, frontline communities, people with disabilities, and incarcerated people. Noon to 1 p.m., Zoom or Facebook Live

Earth Day Virtual Town Hall.This discussion is hosted by Americans for Democratic Action Iowa and Americans for Democratic Action in Waterloo, Iowa.  3:30-4:30 p.m.,  live broadcast on Facebook live