On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day gave voice to rising concerns about the state of our planet. 20 million Americans rallied around a shared vision of a healthier earth, leading to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Since then, Earth Day has gone global, leveraging environmental issues onto the world stage. 

The theme of Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action. As the world mobilizes to address the health and environmental crisis of climate change, the more rapidly building health crisis of coronavirus has dramatically shifted our current reality. In this confusing and disconcerting era of pandemic, our global interconnectivity has never been more clear.

As we attempt to distance ourselves from one another, let’s not forget that we are all firmly planted on this planet, together. Here in Missoula and everywhere, Earth Day is still happening. Let’s celebrate the earth from our backyards. Let’s raise our virtual voices. They are no less powerful and imperative. On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, here’s how you can honor and speak up for our one and only planet earth:

  1. Attend the International Wildlife Film Festival online

The International Wildlife Film Festival is going virtual this year. From Saturday, April 18 through the following Saturday, April 25, you can stream 45 of the festival’s films for free. Or, support the festival and the Roxy Theater by purchasing an IWFF Virtual Pass to access even more films and behind-the-scenes extras, live Q & A, and daily featured events.

  1. Write a “Letter to Tomorrow” with Climate Smart Missoula

Join the global “Dear Tomorrow” project focused on sharing personal messages about climate change to inspire new thinking and action. Letters can be submitted through this online form. Later this year, the community will be invited to a visual installation and letter reading event.

  1. Take action with the Earth Day Network

Get inspired with a variety of projects, from window signs to citizen science, through the Earth Day Network’s Action Hub.

  1. “Run for the Trees” with Run Wild Missoula 

Anytime between Friday, April 10 and Sunday, April 19, lace up your running shoes and take a 5k or 10k jog through Missoula’s urban forest along Run Wild Missoula’s designated route. Be sure to distance yourself from other runners! Register here for a chance to win gift cards to local businesses, then document and submit your time online. 

  1. Help shape Montana’s Climate Solutions Plan

The Montana Climate Solutions Plan aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and prepare Montana for climate impacts. The draft is currently available for public comment. Help shape the draft and speak up for what is important to you here.

  1. Grab a field guide and head outside

The first step to protecting the creatures and plants that we share this planet with is by getting to know them. April is the perfect time to become acquainted with the birds in your backyard, neighborhood, or along your favorite trail, and maybe even spot an early wildflower or two. Don’t have a field guide? Check out this beginning bird guide from FWP, or choose from several apps ready to help you get to know the flora and fauna around you.

  1. Make a repurposed bird feeder

Alternatively, you can bring the birds to you! Check out this video to learn how to make a simple bird feeder out of a plastic water bottle and basic household items.

  1. Construct a bug hotel

Encourage biodiversity in your yard and attract beneficial insects to your garden by constructing a bug hotel. The bugs – and the birds – will thank you!

  1. Beautify your neighborhood and become a citizen scientist

Next time you leave the house for some fresh air, take a trash bag with you to pick up the litter you find on the trail or in your neighborhood. Bonus points if you record your findings with Earth Challenge 2020 to help scientists monitor plastic pollution.

  1. Choose a project from the MUD Resource Library 

The MUD Resource Library has information and links to tons of earth-friendly DIY projects for your home and yard. Learn how to build a vertical planter, view videos of past workshops, explore green building techniques, and much more. Visit our website and click on the Resource Library tab to get started!

However you choose to celebrate Earth Day this year, we want to see it! Join the MUD Earth Day Challenge for a chance to win a free MUD membership or MUD swag. To enter, show off how you are taking time to celebrate or speak up for our planet this month by posting a photo on social media with the hashtag #MUDEarthDayChallenge, and be sure to tag MUD in your photo (Facebook: MissoulaMUD, Instagram: mud_project). Winners will be selected from photos posted anytime between now and April 25th. Not on social media? Email your photo to jane@mudproject.org.

Although this Earth Day may be quieter than in years past, we hope it is no less meaningful. Like so much of this strange time, perhaps Earth Day is an opportunity to go inward, to reflect, to focus on how we can tend and nourish the small chunks of earth we inhabit. Later this year, we invite you to join us at our Summer Sustainability Festival, date TBA, where we look forward to coming together and celebrating our individual efforts as a community. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates, and until then, we wish you sanity, inspiration, and health.


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