4 Fun things to do outdoors to celebrate Earth Day

Apr 2, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Earth Day is April 22 -- what will you do to celebrate? Head outdoors for a fun Earth Day extravaganza!

Family on Earth Day hike

Why do we celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day started in 1970 as a way to bring attention to the importance of environmental protection in the United States. A nonpartisan movement, the first Earth Day saw rallies from coast to coast and helped lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. Since its beginning, Earth Day has grown into a global celebration and has inspired environmental awareness and countless acts of environmental stewardship worldwide.

Use Earth Day as a way to celebrate with your family and even teach a few important lessons about the world around us.

PenguinGo wild and head to the zoo

What better place than the zoo to discover the animals we share our planet with, and learn about their habits and habitats? Many zoos around the country have special celebrations planned (which often include free or discounted entry). Walk with (or near) the animals in the great outdoors -- there's a lot to learn!

Find zoos across the U.S. >>

Get your green thumb on

Spring is here -- the perfect time to get your green thumb on! Planting a backyard garden is easier than you think, whether you want to plant lettuce, herbs and other veggies, or a beautiful flower garden. Planting a garden is a great activity the family can enjoy together. Gardening helps kids experience nature and learn about where food comes from. It can also help teach kids eye-hand coordination, patience, observation and aspects of science.

Picnic in the park

Enjoy the day with a trip to the park for a fabulous picnic. The spring weather has many of us antsy to get outdoors, so pack a basket of goodies and a blanket and head to your nearest and greenest outdoor space. If you’re taking the kids along, this is a good time to teach them about the importance of keeping waste to a minimum and recycling.

Tip: Don’t do disposable. That doesn’t mean you have to rely on fine china for picnic plates! Consider using simple plastic plates, utensils and cups that can be washed and reused for the next picnic. Don’t forget to recycle the glass, paper and plastic that you no longer need.

Take a hike

What a great time to take a hike (or enjoy a number of activities outside)! Not only is this good exercise, a leisurely hike can help you and your family discover a whole new world around them. You can find hiking trails all over the US, and while on your adventure, you’ll be sure to find all sorts of creatures and habitat. If you don’t live near a trail, head out to a park or explore your neighborhood. Take a notebook with you on your hike and jot down the things you see. If you don’t know all there is to know about the things you encounter, look up the information when you get home. Consider taking a camera, too, and create an Earth Day scrapbook that can become a tradition in your household.

Check out this handy and thorough recycle chart >>

Read more about Earth Day

Teach kids about Earth Day
Earth Day recipes
How to be eco-friendly