Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22. This celebration began in 1970 and is now celebrated in over 195 countries. How fun would it be to participate in your backyard right here in Arkansas?
Did you know Arkansas has 11 recognized scenic byways? Take a day and make one of the drives. Pull over and commit time to pick up trash and litter along part of the path. Make sure it’s a safe section where you and your family have space to walk.
Resources to help you plan your day: Arkansas Scenic Byways
2. Take a Hike or Go Camping
Nothing says “exploring the outdoors” like spending a night out under the stars. Our state has 30 State Parks with camping options. Whether you like the mountains or valleys, rivers, rocks, or lakes, tents, yurts, or cabins, any combination is an available option.
One of my favorite things when driving the roads of Arkansas is looking ahead for the “brown signs” as we call them in our family. I’m always making a mental note of new adventures for our family to take. Earth Day is the perfect excuse. Lucky for us, all six regions of our state are home to parks that provide the scenery and facilities to engage the exploration style in which your family likes to participate.
Many of these same sites have hiking or climbing options, but there are many more throughout every region in the state. Make sure you take your camera for the picturesque views and research your trail to find out if any hiking gear is required. Some suggested trails include:
3. Connect with a Garden
A great way to spend Earth Day is to get your own hands dirty or connect with someone who is an expert at digging in the dirt. Visit a farmers market and make a meal with locally grown vegetables, ask a neighbor who likes to garden to teach you something new, plant a tree, herbs, or vegetable garden, learn about earthworms and bugs that help the earth grow and develop. According to PBS Kids, “possible side effects of gardening include laughing, smiling, and an extremely good feeling.” Consider yourself warned.
Resources to help you plan your day: Garvan Woodland Gardens | Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks | Compton Gardens | South Arkansas Arboretum | Arkansas Garden Center | Butterfly Gardening in Arkansas | Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs | Farmer’s Markets in Arkansas
4. Study Ecology and Fight Back
The habitats and environments in Arkansas make for a diverse field of study. Combine those environments with our varied climates and culture, and you have a plethora of ecological opportunities. You don’t have to get out and be active if that’s not your thing, you can dig deep and get your brain involved in Earth Day through study and activism. Some places you could explore include:
The Wetlands of Arkansas including a special urban wetland in Little Rock made from a reclaimed trash-filled drainage system.
The Grand Prairie that is more than a home of the famed ducks in our state. This region also boats beautiful vegetation and native plants.
Caves make for an interesting view into the life of animals and vegetation that thrive in cold, dark, wet environments including bats and indigenous ferns.
Forest regions like the Ozarks and the Ouachitas are great places to seek out animals and insects that only thrive in these areas.
Trace the Arkansas Watershed Project that flows all across the state and learn more about how to protect your drinking water in your specific area of the state.
5. Cut Back and Cut Out
To celebrate Earth Day, you could do an assessment on your house/lifestyle and see how you could REDUCE energy usage, RECYCLE what you use every day, and REUSE the trash you throw out so quickly. Walk through your house, could you turn off lights? What if you gave yourself assigned down time-turn off devices and electronics and get outside? Recycling is much easier to integrate into your everyday activities when you don’t have to go out of your way to collect your items. Consider new trash cans by the one you currently use or a tub right outside your garage door to collect all your goods. Many cities across our state pick up recycling when they pick up trash on your regular weekly schedule. As for reusing, consider things like reusable snack bags, washable water bottles, wearing clothes that aren’t dirty more than once before you wash them, use magazines or newspapers for projects before you toss them, glass or plastic containers could be used for leftover food storage, and the paper you have from shredding could be used for packing materials. By just pausing and thinking you can quickly change your habits into steps that decrease the waste you produce in your everyday life.
However you choose to celebrate the day, get out and explore the world around you. After all, there are just some holidays made to be celebrated in the Natural State!