April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day for celebrating the planet and advocating for its protection. For most Earth Day enthusiasts, this year’s celebration will look completely different than in years past.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted our way of life, and the resulting sadness, confusion, and uncertainty has left many with limited resources and energy to pursue alternative Earth Day activities. If you’re still determined to participate this year but are short on time, here are five quick things you can do to take part in Earth Day, each under 20 minutes.

History of Earth Day1. Read about the history of Earth Day (5 minutes).

What inspired the first Earth Day, and what has happened in the 50 years since it began? Read this short history by the Earth Day Network to find out.


Climate-Friendly Meal2. Peruse and plan a climate-friendly meal (10 minutes).

You don’t have to cook this meal, just select a new recipe you’d like to try! The New York Times has compiled a list of climate-friendly recipes that feature ingredients with lower carbon footprints than many traditional meat and dairy items. With dozens of options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that tempts your taste buds.


3. Learn about wishcycling and take steps to prevent it at home (15 minutes).

Wishcycling, also known as aspirational recycling, is placing items in the recycling bin without being certain they can be recycled. Read why that’s problematic here, and then visit the website of your local recycling agency to confirm which items can truly be recycled in your area.

Photos of Nature4. Share a favorite nature photo (10 minutes).

There are numerous studies documenting the health benefits of spending time in nature, but did you know that viewing photos of nature may also provide some benefit? A 2013 study by researchers from Vrije University Medical Centre in the Netherlands found that viewing photos of green environments helped lower stress levels in participants. Help share those benefits by looking through your old photos (or explore online) for a favorite nature pic to send to a friend or share through social media.

Smithsonian Earth Day Colleciont

5. Explore the Smithsonian’s digital collection of objects from historic environmental movements (15 minutes).

The Smithsonian has put together a virtual exhibit of environmental objects in its collections.  Stamps, buttons, posters, and more all capture the spirit and causes championed by environmental movements over the years. You can click on each object for more information, including the year it was made. Peruse a few, or explore them all!


Have more than 20 minutes? Check out the Florida Museum’s Virtual Earth Day Celebration, or visit the Earth Day Network to find a Digital Earth Day event that interests you.


Wishing everyone a safe and healthy Earth Day, no matter if or how you choose to take part.

Holding the Earth