April 22nd marks the international celebration of Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than identifying ways that you can make a difference all year long. Here are 5 ways that you can contribute to the worldwide effort:

Reuse/reduce your plastic.

There are small ways that you can reduce the amount of plastic waste that has become a huge problem around the world. There are many ways to reuse plastic and reduce waste. Reusable water bottles and food containers are a perfect place to start. Some plastics have even been proven to release toxins that are absorbed into our food and drinks so reusable containers made of metal are great alternatives. Here are some favorites:

S’well Reusable Bottles

Reusable Metal Drinking Straws

Reusable Food Containers

Support your state and national parks.

Need some time away and surround yourself with the serenity or grandeur of nature? No better vacation than to visit to one of the many amazing state and national parks in the United States! These parks are designated and protected areas that allow us to enjoy the diversity and beauty of all that the outdoors, wildlife, and earth have to offer. Take some breathtaking pics for the “gram” or better yet unplug and just soak in your surroundings.

National Park Finder

Virginia State Park Finder

Participate in a trash clean up effort.

Many community organizations and groups organize clean up days where people can volunteer some time to clean up litter and make an impact on their local surroundings. Check your local Rotary/Ruritan Clubs, community calendars, and other public forums for organized clean up times. Better yet, organize one with your company/organization and get your community involved. By the way, trash clean ups aren’t just for the side of the highway. Many groups that work on local rivers and lakes also organize many events that the community can get involved with. For an even bigger cause, check out the larger groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation!

Educate yourself on sustainable living.

We all know the old saying, “Knowledge is power!” There are so many ways you can make a difference. Don’t wait for the world’s billionaires to help the Earth. All it takes are small efforts from every individual to really make a huge impact! Sustainable living is a broad term but there are so many ways you can practice sustainability. To name a few- supporting agriculture, using alternative energy, using natural cleaners and eliminating the use of dangerous pesticides and chemicals, go paper-free on your bank statements and subscriptions!

Supporting land conservation.

Land conservation is such a meaningful effort. Not only does it protect the beautiful views of open-space, mountains, streams, waterfalls, and all other scenery, but it makes a huge difference in the fields of agriculture, science, and public health. There are several ways you can support land conservation:

Donate to a local land trust.

Donate a conservation easement.

Let’s pledge to celebrate Earth all year long together!