Climate change takes center stage during this year’s Earth Day celebrations on April 22, 2021, when the Biden administration holds a global leaders’ summit to highlight the need for worldwide action to protect our planet. The summit is one of President Biden’s first steps to taking aggressive action to tackle climate change and help drive our nation toward a clean energy future.
The Restore Our Earth theme focuses on replenishing the world’s ecosystems and forests, conserving and rebuilding soil, improving farming practices, restoring wildlife populations and ridding the world’s oceans of plastics.
Delaware is already playing a key role in reducing environmental waste with the passage of a new law banning single-use plastic carryout bags, effective January 1, 2021. The ban is designed to reduce beach and roadside litter, save landfill space, increase recycling efforts and reduce the need for recycling facilities to shut down due to plastic bags getting stuck in machinery.
“A decreased use by the public of plastic carryout bags can mitigate a large portion of this waste and help our environment by reducing the amount of plastic bags on our roads and waterways that can harm us and our wildlife,” says Shawn Garvin, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), which preserves and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment.
DNREC was created in 1969, when the Delaware General Assembly passed a bill to create a new state agency charged with preserving and protecting the environment, shortly before the first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, organized by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, an environmental activist focused on advocating for clean air, land and water.
Earth Day advocacy led to the passage of many important environmental laws, including the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Delawareans looking to take part in Earth Day celebrations have numerous opportunities throughout the state. While many events remain virtual this year, there are a variety of local organizations hosting activities, such as interactive scavenger hunts, educational videos and crafts focusing on various environmental themes.
The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), the city of Wilmington and its partners hosts a full week of virtual celebrations from April 19 to 23. Enjoy educational videos, activities and resources, all related to daily Earth Week themes, including food and gardening, transportation, water, waste and plants. Students can also take part in an interactive scavenger hunt with opportunities to win prize, while grown-ups can join in on the fun (and the prizes) by pledging to complete one of the “try-it” activities and committing to small behavior changes to help our environment.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to think about how important our planet is to all of us,” says Kathy Klein, PDE’s executive director. “The celebration highlights the easy things we can do in our daily lives that will help make our waterways cleaner, habitats healthier and communities stronger for current and future generations of all living things.”
In celebration of Earth Day, Mt. Cuba is celebrating Delaware’s native wildflowers and local talent through live music, food trucks, staff-led tours and a plant sale. From April 23 to April 25, attendees can sign up for various daily events such as Story Time Sprouts, Family Yoga, Trillium talks, Tree Tours, guided hikes of Mt. Cuba’s recently opened scenic trails and much more. Tickets are $15 per adult, $8 per child and free for children under six. mtcubacenter.org
DNS celebrates with a Day of Giving and Action on April 22, focusing on climate change, its impact on the environment and how people can make a difference. Anyone can participate by following the group’s Facebook page. Information will be shared on how people can get involved through investments and actions to fight for the environment. facebook.com/delawarenaturesociety; delnature.org
In recognition of the 51st annual Earth Day, DNREC hosts numerous virtual events and small in-person gatherings throughout April that will allow Delawareans to celebrate the natural world, engage in environmental education and contribute to a resolve for sustainable change. Locals can take an interactive quiz about the science of climate change as well as utilize the new Recyclopedia, a resource that helps take the guesswork out of recycling in Delaware.
Governor Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin are working to keep northern Delaware clean by participating in the Christiana River Watershed Cleanup, where volunteers can pick up trash throughout their neighborhoods, beaches and waterways. Delaware.gov