It’s our favorite time of the year! It’s almost Earth Day and Arbor Day! This month we get to geek out and share our love for all things nature-related with you and the community! We hope you’re just as excited to get involved in the celebration. We’ve prepared a guide to help you make the most out of these weekends to give back to the planet.
When are Earth Day and Arbor Day this Year?
Earth Day: Saturday, April 22nd, 2023
Arbor Day: Friday, April 28th, 2023
*Note: Maryland celebrates Arbor Day on the first Wednesday of April, which has passed.
A brief history of Earth Day and Arbor Day
While it may seem like eco-friendly alternatives are the norm now, protecting the earth and celebrating nature is still a relatively new practice. In fact, it has only been about 50 years since vital laws such as the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act were implemented! Between the 1970s-1980s, there was a boom in interest surrounding environmental concerns and the planet’s well-being.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. The idea came from Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin. Senator Nelson was concerned about the oil spill in Santa Barbara, California the year prior, and proposed hosting a teach-in on college campuses to discuss environmental issues. Publicity about the event spread across the nation, and soon everyone from concerned families to passionate activists were rallying to honor the planet. It is believed that 10% of the USA population turned out to celebrate! It wasn’t long before Earth Day became a national holiday and the catalyst for environmental law development.
Surprisingly, Arbor Day predates Earth Day by almost a century! The first Arbor Day was held on April 10th, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. This was thanks to one man who was passionate about trees and nature. In January of 1872, Julius Sterling Morton, a journalist who had moved from out of state, used his platform in the local newspaper to suggest a local tree planting day. When Morton and his family originally moved to Nebraska, he was shocked by the lack of trees in the desolate plains. Despite being the first celebration, the community planted over 1 million trees on the first Arbor Day! Over the course of a decade, other states adopted the holiday, and it became widely celebrated on the last Friday of April. Now, many countries have their own version of Arbor Day!
Arbor Day and Earth Day Celebrations
There are many ways to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day in the DMV area! Whether you want to get your hands dirty by planting trees or prefer to celebrate from home, there is a way for everyone to appreciate the planet this month!
Best Family Activities:
- Earth Day Fairfax Festival at the Sully Historic Site
- Arbor Day Tree Planting at the Vienna Community Center
- Earth Day and Arbor Day Celebration in Downtown Front Royal
- Del Ray Gardenfest in Alexandria
- EarthFest 2023 in Arlington
Best Family Activities:
- Arbor Day Celebration at Oak Hill Cemetary in DC
- Earth Day Artisan Market in DC
- Earth Day Cleanup at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in DC
- The World and Me Family Program: Earth Day Celebration at the Smithsonian Gardens in DC
Unlike Washington, DC, and Virginia, Maryland actually celebrates Arbor Day on the first Wednesday in April. There is still time to honor Earth Day though!
Best Family Activities:
- Earth Day Cleanup at the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
- Earth Day: Our Future Planet at Elk Neck State Park
- Earth Day Cleanup at Gude Park
Fun Activities to Celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day with Your Kids
If you and your family are looking to celebrate at home, there are plenty of fun activities you can do together!
- Plant a small pollinator garden.
- Make a Nature Journal with your kids or grandkids to encourage them to observe the environment around them.
- Visit the National Parks virtually! Explore some of America’s natural wonders from the comfort and convenience of your home.
- Upcycled arts and crafts. Find a new purpose for recyclables in your home (cardboard boxes, newspaper, old clothes) by upcycling them into a fun and creative project.
- Spend some time outside. This may seem simple, but it is so easy for us to get caught up on our devices inside for most of the day. Spending quality time outside and in nature with your family will naturally foster an appreciation for the planet!
By taking the time to commemorate these holidays, you nurture your child or grandchild’s growth as an individual who cares for the planet and encourage their critical thinking skills as they take into account how their actions impact the world around them.
Can’t celebrate in person? Support these local groups
The Environmental Justice Alliance (EJA): EJA seeks to provide environmental solutions to vulnerable communities and raise awareness about environmental issues among underrepresented populations in Northern Virginia!
DC Environmental Network: is working toward rebuilding Washington, DC’s neighborhoods, and communities for long-term economic and environmental sustainability — accomplishing this by protecting, restoring, and enhancing, the Capital City’s urban environment.
Potomac Riverkeepers Network: This organization seeks to protect the public’s right to clean water in the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. They work to stop pollution and enhance the safety of our drinking water, protect healthy river habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment.
Let us know how you and your family are celebrating Arbor Day and Earth Day this year by tagging us on social media!