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April 12, 2022

Celebrate Earth Day by joining a recycling drive, nature walk or volunteer opportunity

There are plenty of environmental service events being held in Philadelphia this month to mark the holiday

Holiday Earth Day
Earth Day 2022 Courtesy of/Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

There is no shortage of ways to celebrate Earth Day in Philadelphia, from tree plantings, community clean-ups, festivals and clothing swaps.

Earth Day is almost here. Considered the largest secular holiday in the world, the observance has its origin in the 1970s peace movement, when anti-war protests and advocacy efforts for clean air and water became more common. 

The first Earth Day celebration was held in 1970, when 20 million Americans demonstrated against the pollution caused by industrial development. 

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In Philadelphia, 20,000 to 40,000 people gathered in Fairmount Park. Led primarily by students at colleges, the city's first Earth Day marked the birth of environmentalist fervor that has not subsided. 

Now, 52 years later, April 22 is packed with activities and events aimed at showing love to the planet and the environment. In Philadelphia, residents can join a series of nature walks, trash pick-ups, tree plantings and other service events throughout April. 

Here's a rundown of the various organizations hosting Earth Day events. 

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

From April 19-24, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will plant more than 1,500 trees in Philadelphia as part of the largest volunteer event it has coordinated. Volunteers can sign up to join tree plantings throughout the city. 

The semi-annual event is intended to enhance Philadelphia's tree canopy, which has seen decreases over the last two decades. 

Improving the canopy can help reduce violence and mitigate negative health outcomes, particularly those related to extreme heat. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that achieving 30% tree canopy could prevent up to 400 premature deaths each year in Philadelphia. 

Proof of vaccination is required to participate. People will be taught how to plant trees, but they should bring hand sanitizer, close-toed shoes, a shovel (if they have one) and a water bottle. Other supplies, including shovels, will be provided. 

Ya Fav Trashman

Terrill Haigler — better known as Ya Fav Trashman — will lead an Earth Day 5K trash walk and neighborhood clean-up on Saturday, April 23. 

Haigler is a former Philadelphia sanitation worker who has become known for organizing clean-ups in North Philadelphia. He is the founder of Trash2Treasure, a nonprofit organization and community hub with resources about clean streets and neighborhood dumping. 

The walk begins at 9 a.m. at Kensington and Lehigh avenues in Kensington. For every bag of trash collected up to 1,000 bags, PHS will plant a tree in a Black or Brown neighborhood over the next five years. 

Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

On Thursday, April 21, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, will host "Earth Day Live," a virtual event that counts down to Earth Day and discusses environmental books and films. 

There also will be a few volunteer events ahead of "Naturepalooza," the Schuylkill Center's signature Earth Day event, held Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is required.

The Schuylkill Center, located in Upper Roxborough, is one of the oldest environmental education centers in the country. The 340-acre center is home to a wildlife clinic, preschool and kindergarten programs, and hosts a variety of events focused on environmentalism and conservation. 

Bartram's Garden

Volunteers can join the staff at Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philly on Saturday, April 23 to help with planting, harvesting, weeding, invasive species removal and orchard support. 

The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Volunteers must register beforehand.

Office of Sustainability

Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability is hosting its Earth Day celebration at Cherry Street Pier on Friday, April 22. The event, which runs from 5-7 p.m., is celebrating the latest edition of the Greenworks Review, an annual magazine promotes environmentalism and keeping the city healthy and safe. It includes contributions from students, activists, teachers and artists. 

Mayor Jim Kenney and other community leaders will make appearances. Masks are required in accordance with the city's current COVID-19 Response Level. 

The Academy of Natural Sciences

Drexel University is hosting its annual Earth Day block party on Tuesday, April 19, but there is no shortage of ways to celebrate the holiday at the Academy of Natural Sciences. 

Drexel's science museum has been celebrating the planet throughout March and April. To conclude its Earth and Water month programming, the Academy of Natural Sciences will host an Earth Day story time at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20, for $12. The event is recommended for children ages 3 to 5. 

On Friday, April 22, the museum will host an Earth Day festival from 4-9 p.m. The event is pay-what-you-wish starting at $3. Masks are required when not actively eating or drinking. 

The Discovery Center

The Fashion Circular, a branded initiative started by Drexel fashion educator Rachel Mednick, shares resources on finding sustainable fashion in Philadelphia. Sustainable Fashion Week, Swap Across America, and All Together Now Pennsylvania are teaming up to host an Earth Day clothing swap with upcycling workshops on Sunday, April 24 from noon to 4 p.m. 

The event is free, but there is a suggested $5 donation. Guests can bring up to five pieces, clean and in perfect condition, for the swap. Visitors can also bring two mendable clothing items or an additional one for a tie-dying workshop. Masks are required indoors at The Discovery Center. 

The Meadows at FDR Park

PennEnvironment — a statewide organization aimed at fighting climate change — is hosting an Earth Day event at The Meadows at FDR Park on Sunday, April 24. From 1-3 p.m., join the South Philadelphia community as they fight to preserve the Meadows, which the city government has considered turning into athletic fields as part of a master plan for the park. 

There will be family-friendly activities as well as opportunities for residents to discuss solutions to preserve Philadelphia green spaces. Registration is required. 

Village of Arts and Humanities

Join volunteers at The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia for a community clean-up on Friday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The arts organization has been working to provide a community hub for marginalized artists in Philadelphia for more than 30 years. 

Supplies will be provided, and registration is required.