By Austa Somvichian-ClausenCommunications Intern

Tomorrow is Earth Day, the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, and came about as an idea by then U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. The idea came to him after witnessing the environmental destruction of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to rally for a healthy sustainable environment. Today, Earth Day is celebrated by more than a billion people every year and presents itself as a time to provoke change in human behavior and policy regarding our environment.

There are so many different ways to celebrate our environment on Earth Day (and every day) and to be a part of the movement towards sustainability — from simply being aware of the ways you use natural resources and manage your household waste, to planting trees or  getting outside and spending the day in nature. Here are a few of the ways Earth Day 2016 will be celebrated in cities around the United States:

New York City

Celebrate Earth Day in the Big Apple at the Green Festival Marketplace at the LEED Certified Javits Center. The Javits Center has the second largest green roof on a single, free-standing building in the entire United States. Throughout the weekend there will be more than 250 exhibitors, 50 inspirational speakers, tons of local nonprofits and delicious vegan and vegetarian food to munch on. Kids gain free entry, and students get in free on Friday.

Central Park
Central Park. Credit: Corey Harmon via Flickr.

Los Angeles

Grand Park will be having an Earth Day event featuring a tour of the park’s sustainable landscaping, outdoor yoga — including a boot camp — artwork, healthy lifestyle vendors and more. They will also be giving away free trees to Los Angeles residents!

UCLA will also be having their 9th annual Earth Day Fair to share their knowledge of sustainability. You can bring any type of electronic waste to them to be recycled safely, learn how to create a reusable bag from an old t-shirt, take photos in their photo booth and listen to live student music.

UCLA. Credit: Ignacio Andrade via Flickr.


The city of Chicago has the highest number of green roofs of any city in the U.S. and has plenty of fun Earth Day activities to attend! Watch a free screening of the award-winning film “Growing Cities” and enjoy outdoor star gazing led by the Chicago Astronomical Society & International Dark-Sky Association.

The Chicago Botanic Garden will also be guiding a special walk through McDonald Woods to celebrate Earth day this year. On this walk you can learn about a variety of spring wildflowers and the restoration work that is underway.

Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago
Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago. Center for Neighborhood Technology via Flickr.


Every year on Earth Day, there is an annual Charles River Cleanup that brings together more than 3,000 volunteers to pick up trash, remove invasive species and assist with park maintenance. An integrated health center, OMBE Boston, will also be holding an Eco Beauty Bar Night on April 20, featuring mini-massages, spa treatments and samplings of organic skin care and eco-friendly wellness products.

Charles River, Boston
Charles River, Boston. Credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr.


Miami EcoAdventures is going to be hosting EarthFest at Greynolds Park, a day filled with free and exciting nature-focused activities and programs such as a guided canoe tour, a scavenger hunt, walking tours, face painting and more. North Miami Parks and Recreation is also hosting a “Go Green & Clean-up” event at two different locations in Miami to help clean the city, enjoy family- and kid-friendly activities and learn more about nature. Participants will be provided with a free t-shirt and lunch.

Miami. Credit: Richard Tanswell via Flickr.

Washington, D.C.

There is a plethora of ways to celebrate Earth Day this year in our nation’s capital. From Earth Day at Union Station featuring interactive, eco-friendly exhibits and activities, to watershed cleanups in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.

Other fun events include an Earth Day celebration at the United States Botanic Garden, where participants can enjoy cooking demonstrations with seasonal produce and meet local representatives of environmental organizations. Earth Day at the National Zoo will be featuring gardening tips from expert horticulturists, a tour of the Zoo’s green facilities and special demonstrations.

The White House / North
The White House / North. Credit: George Rex via Flickr.

San Francisco

San Francisco’s Earth Day SF Street Fair is expected to have more than 10,000 attendees this year, taking advantage of the renowned speakers, eco innovators, green industry and civic leaders, earth-friendly products, nonprofits, sustainable fashion designers and alternative energy companies that will be in attendance. The event will feature fun activities like Do-It-Yourself workshops, a celebrity chef showcase, sustainable fashion shows and even an eco-carnival with a kid’s zone and an organic food court.

Admission to the Marine Science Institute is free all-day at Earth Day on the Bay. There’s going to be live music by the Banana Slug String Band, food trucks, a live raffle and shark feeding.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. Credit: Trace Nietert via Flickr.

Austin, Texas

Austin’s annual Earth Day Festival will be returning this year to Mueller, Austin’s ‘sustainable mixed-use urban village.’ This year’s festival will be huge, with a presentation on Greening Your Home moderated by the Co-Director of CMPBS, Gail Vittori, and presentations on recycling and the green tech futurists of Austin. There will also be a Kid’s Zone with fun activities and a ‘Zen Zone’ with yoga classes and acupuncture demos.

Austin Texas Lake Front
Austin Texas Lake Front. Credit: Stuart Seeger via Flickr.


The Waikiki Aquarium will be hosting the 9th Annual Mauka to Makai Environmental Expo to highlight the impact we make on water sources. The aquarium, and 15 other organizations, will be providing educational activities for both children and adults on how to preserve and protect the diverse environment of Hawaii.

Honolulu. Credit: Markus Jöbstl via Flickr.


Celebrate Earth Day the active way in Seattle by participating in the April Earth Day half marathon, 15k, 10k or 5k races. The events are organized by Club Northwest, a locally based running club, and the race routes are located around the winding park roads and trails of Magnuson Park.

Seattle. Credit: Andrew Albertson via Flickr.