Some have asked, what if we could just restart the year 2020? We are less than a third of the way through the year and can likely all agree that it's been a tough beginning. But 2020 also marks a milestone that calls for recognition. At times like these it's helpful to find reasons to celebrate and be hopeful.
The Virginia Aquarium, alongside other Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)-accredited facilities, partners with the Earth Day Network with a single voice to spread conservation messages inspiring citizens to spring into action. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual worldwide event devoted to uniting the world behind a better future for the planet. We want to honor the five decades of progress made in preserving and protecting the planet by committing to continued efforts and we are inviting you to join us.
There are ways you can honor the celebration now, right in your own homes, and ways to get even more involved (as conditions allow). Here are just a few ideas.
1. Clean Your Green
The Aquarium hosts numerous Clean the Creek events throughout the year where volunteers join us to pick up litter in areas around Owls Creek. Our hope is to collect the trash before it finds its way into the waterways leading to the ocean. Even though we cannot currently host these events, we encourage you to Clean Your Green right where you are! Enjoy some fresh air and take a walk but bring a bag with you to collect litter. Help keep the areas around your home and neighborhood free of trash. You could also commit to one of our future Clean the Creek events once we can reschedule!
2. BEE Productive
Spring is a "buzzy" time for pollinators that are critical to the sustainability of most crops and therefore vital to the economy. The Aquarium is committed to protecting these essential species, and to planting and protecting native plants. Our horticulturists are still busy working during this closure, ensuring that the plants growing along our Nature Trail and in our exhibits are expertly and responsibly maintained. In honor of this 50th anniversary, consider planting a memorial tree or creating a native wildflower garden to attract pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds. Here is a great activity to start your own native wildflower garden that is bound to bring pollinators and smiles in the future.
3. Bag Single-Use Plastics
With the growing harm to marine habitats and species, we want to see an end to single-use plastics and have taken active measures to lead by example. From our "skip the straw" campaign to the introduction of compostable greenware in our café, and the Aquarium Store's commitment to purchase from businesses also striving to eliminate excess packaging, we are demonstrating that we can work together to eventually end the excessive use of plastics. In honor of Earth Day's 50th anniversary, this is an opportunity to make a new commitment to decreasing our use of plastics. From choosing re-usable bags and containers, to skipping the straw, or buying bulk, there are so many little changes we can make in our daily activities that will have huge positive impacts for years to come.
4. Serve up Sustainable Seafood
Although the closure required us to postpone until November, we are still excited to host our ever-popular Sensible Seafood Fest presented by PNC Bank. It's an adults-only evening set aside to celebrate responsible and sustainable seafood options and to sample some scrumptious dishes made by regional chefs dedicated to the same mission. Of course, we hope you will join us in November for this event, but even now you can use our Sensible Seafood Guide to help make good choices in the seafood you buy. We encourage you to consider supporting our Sensible Seafood partners during this closure and when they reopen. These local companies are committed to providing the most responsible and ocean-friendly options for their customers.
So, Earth Day 2020 was supposed to be a blow-out 50th anniversary party but, like so many other events during this time of social distancing, it is now going to look very different. The good news is that we can make Earth Day 2020 more than a celebration of the 50 years that have passed and make it the kick-off to a never-ending party. Let's celebrate what the Earth means to each of us and what each of us can do to protect it.
Let us know what you are doing to honor Earth Day 2020 – the 50th Anniversary. Share your plans and ideas with us on Facebook or Instagram, join the movement on the Earth Day website, and let's inspire each other!