In Oregon, Earth Day is tantamount to a state holiday. In kindergarten we planted flowers. In second grade we explored the creek bed behind my school looking for praying mantis and frogs. In fifth grade we learned about smog and how we were killing the earth. In seventh grade we were sent home with trees to plant to ensure we understood the importance trees play in the production of oxygen.
By the time I hit high school, I was firmly ensconced as a tree-hugging member of society.
Luckily, I also group up in a Christian home and was taught the importance of caring for the earth as a biblical mandate (Genesis 2:15). We spent as much time in nature as we could, hiking and exploring. My church family even prioritized group hikes including a yearly Sunday morning spent in God’s creation.
Now, I’m struck by the importance of caring for our world as an act of worship in reverence to our creator. If you take a biology or environmental science class, you can see the thought God put into every aspect of this world. Everything is so complex and integrated.
With that in mind, I think it’s our duty as Christ-followers to be outspoken in our praise, and what better way to do that than celebrate Earth Day with vigor. Here are 8 ways you can celebrate God’s creation this Earth Day:
1. Plant a Tree or Start a Garden
This seems like a simple thing and some might call it silly, but planting a tree has a pretty significant impact environmentally. Trees help clean the air, provide much needed oxygen, and prevent soil erosion among a host of other super helpful things.
Or grab your kids or members of your community and start a garden. It’s a great way to embrace the literal earth. Plus, then you’ll have fresh vegetables and fruit.
2. Go for a Hike and Have a Picnic
What better way to appreciate God’s creation then by spending time in God’s creation. Find a state park near you or look up hikes nearby.
Can’t go for a hike? Have a picnic instead. Grab some friends, food and a blanket and enjoy the (hopefully) lovely spring weather by eating a delicious meal outside. If it’s not nice outside, get some friends and schedule a delayed-Earth Day celebratory picnic and or hike for later.
3. Clean Up Your Local Park
This is a great activity to get your church community or children involved in Earth Day. Call your local Parks and Rec department (hopefully no Andy Dwyer answers the phone), and ask about organizing a park clean up. There may already be one happening that you can join. Or organize some neighbors to walk around and clean your home community.
4. Consolidate Your Errands
Try to plan your errands for the day or week and get them all finished in one trip. Map out one efficient route that takes you in a loop. This way you’re emitting less gas into the air. You also save on gas, which is a big plus.
Bonus points if you bike or walk.
5. Recycle at Home and Work and Church
Landfills cause hosts of problems from contaminating soil and water tables to producing copious amounts of methane gas.
Bring a box to church for people to recycle their bulletins after the service rather than throwing them away, or If you’re feeling more ambitious, here are some tips on starting a community recycling program or an office recycling program.
6. Buy Reusable
Buy a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, Ziploc bags, shopping bags, etc. Cut plastic out of your life as much as you can. There is no reason in this day and age for you to still be using disposable water bottles. Watch this short film on all the harm they are doing the environment.
Check out this guide from Micah Challenge on buying more earth friendly items.
7. Buy Used
We live in a society of new. New cars, new technology, new clothing and fast fashion (check out the True Cost documentary on Netflix). Our obsession with new is contributing to excessive waste and overflowing landfills.
Start looking as used items before shopping for new ones when you need something. Go to a local thrift store our scour Craigslist. Save money and the environment.
8. Take a Stand on Climate Change
God commanded us not to only take care of his earth, but to take care of people living in poverty. Climate change affects both. The people who feel the effects of climate change first are those who are most vulnerable and living directly off of the land. We have the option to go to the grocery store to buy food. We might whine when something is out of stock or more expensive due to low crop yield, but many around the world don’t have that option.
Changes have been so drastic that entire communities and livelihoods are dying. It’s not a political issue for many around the world. It’s life and death.
More and more Millennial-aged Christians are realizing this and are taking a stand in solidarity with those most affected. Join Micah Challenge along with John Mark McMillan and other Christian artists as we seek to take care of God’s creation as an act of worship and as an act of compassion for the love of our brothers and sisters around the world and for the love of our creator. We also just filmed a short documentary you can check out here.
Together we can make a difference and be the caretakers God has called us all to be. Happy Earth Day!
is an activist and writer living in Portland, Oregon.