By Liz Johnson
Earth Day is Monday, April 22.
Fifty years ago, an oil well off the cost of Santa Barbara blew out, spewing 3 million gallons of oil and killing more than 10,000 birds, animals and fish. The spill galvanized environmental activists, who a year later, organized the first Earth Day on college campuses and schools around the country.
Four years ago, more than 120 countries signed the landmark Paris climate change agreement on Earth Day, recognizing its prominence in history.
Locally, Earth Day is celebrated in a variety of ways, from park cleanups to festivals to self-made resolutions to tread a little more gently on this planet.
If you’re looking to make the world a better place, here are a few ideas (Be sure to scroll to the bottom for local events, too):
Recycle, recycle, recycle.
There isn’t much that can’t be recycled in this world. The trouble is, finding drop-off centers or timing cleanouts to coincide with county or municipal cleanup days. New Jersey has recently launched an app called Recycle Coach to help. Check it out here. For Hunterdon County cleanup days for getting rid of hazardous waste or electronics, click here.
Reuse, reuse, reuse.
Whether its detergent bottles or canvas shopping bags, one way to cut down on trash is to develop a reuse habit. Many health food stores have detergents in bulk, where you bring an empty detergent bottle and refill it. Go to any festival or event and you’re bound to wind up with a free canvas bag that can be used for toting groceries. Keep them in your car, so there’s always one handy when you go into a store.
Ditch the car.
Granted, it can be difficult getting from one big-box store to another without a gas-guzzling vehicle. But Hunterdon County is home to many small towns and boroughs that have walkable shopping districts. Find a place to park and walk from store to store. Or head out to one of the parks in the county with a bicycle in tow for a day outdoors in the sunshine.
Give one of your old possessions a new life, by either selling it to someone who could use it, donating it to a charity or remaking it into something useful again. Google “repurpose” for some fun ideas. Or, let someone else do the work for you. Trenton-based Terracycle has numerous programs, such as turning old candy wrappers into jewelry or juice boxes into pocketbooks. For ideas or drop-off locations, go to www.terracycle.com.
Replace any incandescent light bulbs you may have with energy efficient ones. Check out the recycling links above for ways to get rid of your old bulbs.
Unsubscribe from junk mail.
There are a number of ways to do this. Perhaps the easiest is to go to Data and Marketing Association website. There you’ll have a choice of doing a complete deep six or pick and choose which catalogs you’d like to keep and which ones to ditch.
Turning food waste into nutrient-rich soil can take time, but it doesn’t need to be a hassle. Small composters sell for $100 or less. Or check out your local community garden which often has public composting bins.
Take part in a community cleanup.
There are numerous events scheduled around the county to celebrate Earth Day.
Here are just a few of the local events:
Raritan Headwaters Association Stream Cleanup
When: Saturday, April 13 at 9 a.m.
Where: Various locations throughout Hunterdon County
Grab a few friends, a pair of gloves and a pair of hiking boots for a spring clean that will leave you feeling motivated and accomplished. Plus, see some of the best parks and scenery Hunterdon County has to offer. For a list of locations, visit www.raritanheadwaters.org/stream-cleanup
Earth Day Hike at Round Valley Recreation Area
When: Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Round Valley Recreation Area, 1220 Lebanon -Stanton Road, Lebanon
Bring a pair of clippers to cut back invasive species to make room for natural ones.
Flemington Annual Earth Day Celebration
When: Saturday, April 27 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Echo Hill Park, 42 Lilac Dr., Flemington
Music, live animal show, hiking, canoeing along with a variety of recycled crafts and games.
Milford Earth Day Festival
When: Saturday, April 27 9 a.m.-noon
Where: Bridge Street, Milford
Begin the day with a river clean up, then take part in a yoga class, drumming circle or hiking the Milford Bluffs.
Frenchtown Borough Park Community Cleanup Day
When: Saturday, April 27 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Raindate: Sunday April 28
Where: Frenchtown Borough Park, Creek Road, Frenchtown
Annual park cleanup for newly restored borough plyaground. Bring gloves, rakes, shovels, loppers, clippers and wheelbarrows. A pizza lunch will be served for volunteers.RSVP to Holly Low, parks commissioner, at [email protected]