11 ways to mobilize globally and locally on Earth Day 2020

The 50th annual event is expected to activate millions.
A young woman bending down to plant a small green plant in the ground
(Photo from PxHere)

Fifty years ago, a mobilization of 20 million individuals turned a conversation about our planet into action. A call for change rung out from streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities around the globe, and marked April 22 of 1970 the very first Earth Day. Now, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, hundreds of millions of people are estimated to activate for change, although events are going to look a little different this year. In order to curb the spread of coronavirus and keep people healthy and safe, many events have moved to a digital platform or campaign to comply with social distancing. Here are a few ways you can minimize contact and get involved, globally and locally.

In its mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide, Earth Day Network, the global coordinator of Earth Day, is working to build the largest global mobilization in history to defend the planet with a number of diverse campaigns. Here are a few Earth Day initiatives happening globally, with your health and safety in mind:

S.A.V.E the planet
EARTHRISE is shifting in-person mobilizations to a powerful online conversation that you can join and support to S.A.V.E. the planet – Speak up, Act, Vote and Educate. On April 22, the campaign will ask participants to join the conversation and share what they are doing to make a difference online with the hashtags #EARTHRISE and #EarthDay2020. It will also be sharing 24 actions that individuals can take throughout their day, every hour, even at home. The EARTHRISE campaign is further designed to push legislative change through voting, and urges participants to send messages to their leaders who are in powerful positions to defend the planet. And finally, the campaign is bringing teach-in lectures by 12 of the world’s experts to a global scale by running them online for everyone to see, hear and learn from, because change begins with education. Click here for more information

Be a part of the world’s largest clean-up crew
The Great Global Cleanup campaign aims to reduce the billions of pieces of garbage littered around the world. Be a part of the world’s largest clean-up crew and help reduce harmful waste in neighborhoods, rivers, beaches, trails, parks and everywhere else. To comply with health restrictions at this time, the Great Global Cleanup is asking organizers to consult and comply with local and federal health advisories, and if cleared, practice social distancing and appropriate sanitation. You can also register your own cleanup as an individual. Every action counts! Click here for more information

Help collect data to promote policy changes
As the world’s largest coordinated citizen science campaign, Earth Challenge 2020 empowers people around the globe with accessible information and citizen-designed science projects to help monitor and mitigate threats to our planet. Through a mobile app, you can share observations about air quality, plastic pollution, etc., in your area to help scientists collect data that will be used to promote environmental policy changes. Click here for more information

Reduce your “foodprint”
Find out how what you eat affects the changes in our environment by assessing your “foodprint.” From growing and producing food to transporting, storing and eating it, our diets affect our planet, and everyone can work to reduce their individual foodprints. Take the 20/20 Foodprints for the Future pledge and learn how to eat a more plant-based diet and avoid food waste. Click here for more information

Host your own teach-in
Activism can take place anywhere, and in 1970 it appeared in classrooms as well as out on the streets. With resources from Earth Day Network, organize your own environmental teach-in digitally and help meet the Global Teach-In’s goal of reaching more than 500 million students and community members. Click here for more information

Plan for the next generations
In an effort to build the environmental movement among college students and administrators, MobilizeU was launched in 2012. The campaign starts with students and their institutions to set an example of how to make a difference. Students can become ambassadors who connect their campus to global environmental movements, plan Earth Day events and more, and campuses can showcase their sustainability projects. To get involved and start planning for a better future, check out the website. Click here for more information

Learn how people are advancing their environmental rights
From 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on April 22, Green Amendments For The Generations is holding a one-day exclusive preview of “Here’s the Story: The Green Amendment.” Learn how Green Amendments provide constitutional power to enforce powerful change in environmental protection, and after watching the short film online, tune into Facebook live interviews with experts like Green Amendment founder Maya K. van Rossum, Pennsylvania Sen. Franklin Kury and Cornell professor Anthony Ingraffea. End your Earth Day with a virtual #GreenAmendmentTrivia game and compete against players around the world for prizes. Click here to sign up for trivia, and here to view the PBS preview on April 22.

Mobilizing in an effort to defend the planet is a powerful and effective way to push systematic and cultural change, even if the conversation is online. It’s fairly easy to get involved if you want to be a part of something bigger, and there are some movements happening right here in Madison. Here are some locally-based events that are working to push environmental consciousness during the month of April.

Wednesday, April 1
Take part in the Earth Day Virtual Challenge to work toward a goal over the course of 30 days. Each year, participants in the campaign work as a team to run the distance of the equator, 24,901 miles. You can run and walk anywhere, but at least 415 participants need to commit to running two miles every day to meet the goal. The total mileage may seem daunting, but last year participants were able cover more than 26,000 miles! Click here fore more information

Monday, April 20
The Nelson Institute will celebrate this year’s anniversary with an Earth Day Conference titled “Earth Day@50: Aspiring for sustainability, striving for justice, crafting the planet.” The all-day event was originally scheduled to take place at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, but it will now transition to alternative programming online. Details for the online schedule are in the works, but the conference will focus primarily on connecting the past to the present by highlighting both new and old conservation and restoration efforts. From past movements to ecological innovation, social justice and beyond, the conference will explore the myriad ways we can do our part to promote a better, healthier future for ourselves and our world. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Click here for more information

Tuesday, April 21
From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., WisPolitics will be hosting “Earth Day: The Next 50 Years” as a virtual conversation about legislative change and the future of our planet. Headlining the conversation is Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change, state Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities, and Mark E. Stoering, Xcel Energy president for Wisconsin and Michigan. The program was originally going to take place at the Madison Club, but those interested will now be able to tune in online for a virtual conversation. Details are still being sorted out, but information will be posted here.

Wednesday, April 22
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in conjunction with the founding of Clean Wisconsin, a state voice for environmental protection and preservation. Get safely involved and clean up your community by going on a socially-distant walk and collect 50 pieces of litter found along the way. Snap a picture of what you find, and post it on social media with the hashtag #CW50for50 or email it to info@cleanwisconsin.org to be featured on the Clean Wisconsin social media channels. Even during this time, individual actions make a noticeable impact in our communities, and we can still find ways to contribute to the collective betterment of the planet. For more information on Clean Wisconsin, click here.

Hannah Twietmeyer is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

To read more stories from Madison Magazine’s Beyond Earth Day section, click here.