Card with green palm leaves. Earth Day celebration

Not only does the advent of springtime in Chicago – with its beautiful bird songs, sprouting daffodils and tulips, budding trees and warm breezes – signify that winter is behind us, it also offers the perfect opportunity to contemplate all of the gifts that the Earth provides, and to take action on Earth Day to preserve these gifts.

Earth Day, which falls on April 22 each year, was established in 1970 as a day of education on issues impacting the environment. The first-ever Earth Day featured rallies in major cities throughout the country, including Chicago and Los Angeles, and the holiday coordinated by the Earth Day network is now observed worldwide with more than a billion participants annually.

Events and activities around the globe range from drum circles in Denmark to nature walks in Australia, and residents of the Chicago suburbs will have no trouble finding Earth Day celebrations practically in their own backyards. For instance, the Lombard Park District has planned a nature scavenger hunt, suncatcher craft, dirt cup tutorial and storytime on April 22, while the Elmhurst Public Library will give away free saplings on April 17 and April 21.

The western suburbs also offer numerous opportunities to observe and appreciate nature on Earth Day, from hikes through the ever-changing grounds of the Morton Arboretum or the Illinois Prairie Path in Elmhurst to bird-watching in one of the many forest preserves throughout DuPage County. Residents of Lexington Square Elmhurst will observe plants and wildlife at Madison Meadow in Lombard during their own Earth Day nature walk being planned by staff at the vibrant retirement community; Lexington Square Elmhurst and Lexington Square Lombard residents can also enjoy relaxing nature walks right outside their doors, thanks to the beautifully maintained gardens on the grounds of both communities.

As we head outdoors in the coming weeks and months to enjoy all of the beauty that spring has to offer, why not devote some time to environmental stewardship in support of this year’s Earth Day theme, Restore Our Earth? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

● Check out some of the live-streamed climate education events and activities scheduled for April 20-22 on EarthDay.org.

● Plant something! Whether it is vegetables, flowers, a tree, or even a small windowsill herb garden, plants help the environment by turning carbon dioxide into oxygen – and depending on what you grow, they can also be a delicious source of fresh food. If you opt to include pollinator-friendly plants such as milkweed, you have the bonus benefit of helping the dwindling monarch and bee populations. You may want to take inspiration from Lexington Square residents, who recently painted planters for succulents, and add your own artistic flair to your containers or garden signage!

● Expand your recycling efforts to help reduce waste, decrease pollution and conserve energy. You may already be recycling plastic, aluminum and cardboard, but your community may also offer opportunities to sustainably dispose of other materials such as electronics.

● Start a composting bin. Not only does this keep yard waste and food scraps out of landfills, compost also makes excellent fertilizer for your plants.

● Install compact fluorescent bulbs to reduce energy usage, and turn off the lights whenever you leave a room.

● Help beautify your neighborhood by taking a walk and picking up trash.

● Take a break from driving and walk or ride your bike to your destinations on Earth Day.

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