Butterfly show, recycling event, invasive species hunt and more: Earth Day 2017 is here

Blue Ash also hosts all-day festival Saturday

CINCINNATI -- More than a billion people from countries all over the globe will celebrate our shared planet this weekend.

Earth Day, born here in the United States on April 22, 1970, has evolved into a worldwide day of action that aims to change human behavior and provoke policy changes, according to Earth Day Network.

April 22 falls on Saturday this year, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate Mother Earth in the Tri-State.

Not sure what to do?

Here are nine ideas:

1. Head to the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition’s Earth Day Festival.

The local coalition will host its Earth Day Festival noon-7 p.m. Saturday at Summit Park in Blue Ash.

The nonprofit group aims to promote the beauty and environmental quality of the Tri-State area. Its annual family-friendly festival is a celebration of our natural community and will feature more than 100 vendors and exhibitors offering Earth-friendly products and interactive educational activities, live music, a beer garden, petting zoo and recycling games. This year’s theme is local food.

2. Celebrate at Earth Day OTR.

3CDC and partners, including Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, will be provide a day of eco-friendly activities and vendors noon-5 p.m. Saturday on Washington Park’s Civic Lawn in Over-the-Rhine.

Earth Day OTR will feature live music, food and drinks, eco-friendly products for purchase and a range of activities for both children and adults.

3. Spend the day with the Monarchs.

You can kick off Earth Day celebrations with the butterflies at Krohn Conservatory on Friday. Its butterfly show, "The Majestic Monarch," runs through June 18.

On Friday, the first 300 visitors will receive a free tree seedling in celebration of Earth Day. (There is still an admission cost for the show.)  It runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

4. Recycle unwanted items at Ohio Valley Goodwill Earth Day weekend donation events.

Ohio Valley Goodwill has announced a new partnership with IKEA. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, the duo is hosting an Earth Day furniture donation event at IKEA West Chester.

Donors who bring items will receive a coupon good for $20 off a purchase of $150 at IKEA (limit one per household).

Goodwill also hosts an Earth Day-themed electronics recycling celebration each year to help raise awareness about the importance of recycling unwanted computers and related electronic equipment in a safe and responsible way.

This year’s event is set for 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at all 34 of its Greater Cincinnati donation centers.

If you don’t think your individual donation can make much of a difference, consider this: Last year alone, the organization helped to recycle more than 49 million pounds of donated items, diverting them from local landfills.

5. Pick up some free seeds at the library.

A variety of organizations, including county extension offices, provide local families with easy-to-grow seeds this time of year in honor of Earth Day.

For example, the University of Kentucky's Kenton County Extension Office will host its annual Earth Day Seed Giveaway this weekend at various branches of the Kenton County Public Library.

Kenton County residents can pick up seeds from 10-11 a.m. Friday at the system’s Covington branch, from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday at its Independence branch or from 12:30-2 p.m. at the Erlanger branch.

In Northern Kentucky, both the Campbell County and Boone County extension offices host Earth Day seed giveaway events as well.

Check with your local extension office for similar programs.

6. Help kick invasive plant species (and litter) to the curb.

Greater Cincinnati has no shortage of beautiful green spaces in our local park systems.

Unfortunately, keeping invasive species and litter at bay is a struggle in nearly every community. Organized volunteer clean-up events give residents the opportunity to help.

On Saturday, Great Parks of Hamilton County will host Move That Bamboo, a volunteer event that will allow residents to spend Earth Day helping to removing bamboo and other invasive plants at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve in Colerain Township. Volunteers can also make a bamboo rain stick and meet some of the feathered friends that call Farbach home. (Registration is required.)

Also on Earth Day, from 9 a.m.-noon, you can assist Cincinnati Parks staff on clean-up projects, such as invasive plant species removal, litter removal and trail maintenance, at the park system’s Green Up Day event at its California Woods Nature Center on Kellogg Avenue. Call 513-231-8678 to sign up.

7. Learn your carbon footprint.

All of our daily activities (electricity usage, transportation and even disposing of waste) cause greenhouse gas emissions, which can have negative effects on the environment. Collectively, those emissions make up a household's carbon footprint.

There are a variety of calculators online that allow you to measure your family’s footprint. You can start with the EPA’s carbon footprint calculator and estimate your footprint in three areas: home energy, transportation and waste.

You can use the information to help reduce your footprint – and impact on the planet.

8. Learn more about Earth Day (and ways you can get involved).

On April 22, 1970, about 20 million Americans took to the streets in rallies across the nation to raise awareness for a healthy, sustainable environment. It was the birth of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2017’s campaign is “Environmental & Climate Literacy.”

You can engage in the network’s campaign by creating your own “Act of Green” or joining an existing campaign. The group hopes to reach three billion Acts of Green by Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

Visit Earth Day Network’s website for a full history of the annual celebration, toolkits and educational materials, and details about how you can take action with your time or money to help the environment.

9. Get outside.

Even if you don’t participate in a local organized Earth Day event, make a point to enjoy the great outdoors this weekend.

Take your kids on a hike, take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood or simply get up in time to watch the sunrise. Earth Day is a day of action, but it’s also a day of gratitude for our natural world.

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