March 30th, 2011 at 1:00 am
Every year, I think we should plan something to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, but we never do. Maybe it’s just me, but since it’s modern incarnation began in 1970, Earth Day has seemed less of a celebration than a doomsday proclamation, and guilt has never been much of a motivator for me. It just makes me feel, well, guilty.
But this year, with the specter of radiation haunting us in the wake of the disasters in Japan, I’ve been moved to really celebrate this holiday. The ultimate power of Mother Earth over the destiny of our fragile human race has motivated me to stand up and take notice — maybe even pay a little respect.
The good news is that after more than four decades of Earth Days, there are lots of ways, big and small that we can make a difference. My favorite is called Party for the Planet™, where more than 100 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) sponsor Earth Day celebrations, some with just a single event, and others with an entire month of activities. No guilt, just a big party for our true Home (capital H).
Check out your favorite zoo’s website for a calendar of activities, or bookmark the AZA site for a growing list of participants. For those traveling over spring break in April, keep in mind that many zoos offer reciprocity with free or reduced admissions for zoo members. Here’s a list of zoos that participate in the AZA Reciprocity Program.
For those not near enough to a local zoo to participate in Party for the Planet, the Earth Day Network offers lots of other suggestions. This year’s theme is A Billion Acts of Green®. The United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of the Forest. Kids aged 6-14 are invited to Paint Life in a Forest, in a contest to win $2,000 and a United Nation’s sponsored trip to Indonesia for the UNEP-Tunza International Children’s Conference (deadline April 15).
Or plan your own Party for the Planet. Here’s a list of great Earth Day read alouds from my friend, fellow writer and “readiologist” Esme Raji Codell. Or create a simple Earth Day craft. Or maybe just sing along with Tom Chapin’s Happy Earth Day.
This year, let’s all celebrate Earth Day. No guilt. Just Party for the Planet.