Earth Day has been celebrated annually on April 22 since 1970 to remind us that everyone is responsible for caring for our land and natural resources. Many communities celebrate by sponsoring a 5K Walk-Run or hosting spring cleanup days. Some civic groups adopt a park or a highway where they remove plastics and other garbage.
Whether you live in a small town or a city, here are three ways you can celebrate:
- Take a hike. Reflect on the beauty of nature as you walk along groomed trails. Iowa’s more than 83 state parks and recreation acres provide about 53,000 acres for hiking, camping, picnicking and swimming. One of my favorite parks is Beed’s Lake in Hampton where the spillway provides a unique backdrop for photos.
- Plant a pollinator garden and/or a tree. You can plant container gardens specifically for vegetables or pollinators. Click here for tips on container gardening from Becky’s Greenhouse in Dougherty. Have more space to fill? Click here for tips from our friends at Red Granite Farm on planting a garden. Trees and shrubs also attract birds. Trees also provide shade, capture carbon and support pollinators.
- Clean up plastics from your yard, a park or the roadside. Take a weekend morning to walk through your neighborhood, a park or along a road to pick up discarded plastics, cans, and bottles. Remember, much of Iowa’s countryside is a “natural buffet” for livestock. Road ditches and pastures are often baled to provide feed for livestock throughout the winter. I’ve found plastic bags and smashed tin cans inside of bales. Sadly, livestock can die from eating plastic and garbage.
For farmers, Earth Day is every day. Iowa farmers use science-based practices to protect the land and water quality, so they may pass the land to the next generation. That’s why Iowa leads the nation in reduced and no-till acres. It’s also why farmers plant more than 3 million acres of cover crops each year, which is an increase of 94% since 2017 and 300 times more than a decade ago.
Please help us keep our livestock safe – and Iowa’s countryside beautiful – by properly disposing of trash.