The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, was a national “teach-in” event focused on educating people about the environment. Across the U.S., 20 million Americans (10% of the population) took to the streets, to protest pollution of their natural places. As a result, in December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a federal agency specialized in tackling environmental issues: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Earth Day has been annually celebrated in the U.S. for 51 years, and the University of Pittsburgh has been an active participant advancing sustainability initiatives since 1970. Learn more here.
To honor Earth Day this year, here are some ideas on how to celebrate at home and virtually!
Celebrating Earth Day 2021
Attend Pitt’s Earth Month Teach-in Event!
April 13th-Green Speakeasy Teach-in Event
Join us for the last Green Speakeasy event of the semester, Earth Month Teach-In: Leveraging Research to Inform Calls to Action.Tune in to hear 7 influential women who are advancing sustainability by discovering connections and building opportunities toward a healthier future. Watch the recording!
April 23rd- 14th Annual Student Sustainability Symposium
This annual event showcases the incredible work completed by two Pitt sustainability-focused classes. Join us virtually on Friday April 23 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for student presentations and keynote by Dr. Jerry Dickinson. Register now!
Participate in Clutter for a Cause
Clutter for a Cause Donation Week will be held during this year’s move-out from April 22 – 30, 2021. During this week, bring your unwanted items like textiles, kitchen items, non-perishable food, and more to one of the conveniently located donation locations!
Find the full list of items that can be donated and details on donation station locations here!
Attend Local Earth Day Events
A nonprofit organization, the Parks Conservancy are working on improving quality of life for the people of Pittsburgh by restoring the park system to excellence in partnership with government and the community.
- Highland Park – Hike with a Naturalist: Spring Mushrooms | April 16, 2021; 9:00 AM
- Ranger Explorer Days @ Citiparks Recreation Center | April 16, 2021; 10:00 AM
- Frick Environmental Center – Forest Bathing | April 17, 2021; 8:00 AM
- Phillips Park – Phillips Park Volunteer Clean Up | April 17, 2021; 9:00 AM
- Sheraden Park Clean Up | April 17, 2021; 11:30 AM
- Schenley Park – Hike-U: Haiku Hike | April 17, 2021; 1:00 PM
- Frick Park – Pausing and Hiking for Balance | April 19, 2021; 6:00 PM
- Highland Park – Kick-off to “Tabling Tuesday’s” | April 20, 2021; 4:30 PM
- Ranger Explorer Days @ Citiparks Recreation Center | April 21, 2021; 2:30 PM
- Sheraden Park – Intro to Hatha Yoga | April 16, 2021; 5:00 PM
- Online – Nature in Your Neighborhood: Hike with a Naturalist | April 22, 2021; 10:00 AM
- Schenley Plaza – Children’s Activities: Birds and Kites | April 22, 2021; 4:00 PM
- Online- Nature in Your Neighborhood: Colors of Spring | April 22, 2021; 5:00 PM
- Online – First Lady’s Earth Day | April 22, 2021; All Day
- Ranger Explorer Days @ Citiparks Recreation Center | April 23, 2021; 10:00 AM
- Emerald View Park – Early Pittsburgh Hike in Duquesne Heights | April 24, 2021; 12:00 PM
- Riverview Park – Mushroom Walk | April 25, 2021; 10:00 AM
- August Wilson Park – Hill Hike | April 25, 2021; 11:00 AM
- Frick Environmental Center – Wild Edibles Hike | April 25, 2021; 11:00 AM
- North Park – Earth Day Hike | April 22, 2021; 3:00 PM
- North Park – Volunteer Earth Day Cleanup with the Park Rangers | April 24, 2021; 1:00 PM
- North Park – Latodami Earth Day Adventures | April 24, 2021; 10:00 AM
- Settler’s Cabin Park – Guided Hike, History of Earth Day | April 24, 2021; 2:00 PM
- Settler’s Cabin Park – Cleanup with Park Rangers | April 24, 2021; 2:00 PM
Build a Better Planet – Virtual Event | April 19 through April 25, 2021
In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2021, ALCOSAN developed a signature activity that focuses on the environment. The Green Infrastructure Digital Brick Building Challenge, which is designed for grades K-5.
Virtual Earth Day | April 22, 2021; 12:00 PM
Earth Day in Mt Lebanon is an event to celebrate the earth… to learn what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, to help our waterways, to learn what local environmental groups you can support and more!
Celebrate at our Garden | April 22, 2021; 12:00 PM
Please join us to learn more about our food pantry garden on Thursday, April 22, 1pm-4pm. Kid-friendly activities include making pollinator seed balls, touring the garden, story-time, scavenger hunt, paper pot making and seed planting.
Spring Stream Sweep | April 24, 2021; 9:00 AM
Every time it rains, trash & debris from the upper watershed communities of Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Wilkinsburg, & Swissvale washes into Nine Mile Run. Come out and help us keep the stream clean & beautiful!
Earth Day Challenge Clean Up | April 24, 2021; 9:00 AM
A 2021 Earth Day challenge between Sharpsburg, Etna, and Millvale boroughs!
Girty’s Woods Earth Day Seeding | April 22, 2021; 11:00 AM
Celebrate Earth Day and the protection of Girty’s Woods! Volunteers will plant native grass seed at this brand new conservation area.
Check out events happening all over the world for Earth Day
Learn how to be more sustainable!
Learn about recycling and reduce waste
Do you know that the slogan”Reduce, reuse, recycle” is organized by priority? Earth Day is the perfect time to think of ways you can reduce your waste and look for opportunities to reuse items.
Before throwing an item away, spend some time learning about the recycling options near you. Recycling is an environmentally friendly activity which helps to reduce waste from the landfill and can help promote the circular economy.
Make sure you know what items can be recycled in your county. “Wish-cycling” is a term coined by the industry that refers to all the things residents throw into recycling that end up contaminating the collection stream.
Want to learn about recycling at the University of Pittsburgh?
Want to learn about residential recycling off-campus?
- City of Pittsburgh Residential Recycling
- “Hard to Recycle” Items in Pittsburgh
- Pennsylvania Resource Council
Earth Day is a great chance to get out and spend some time in nature. If you are in Pittsburgh, there are great places in Pitt’s backyard to get outside and see the sprouting trees. Take a walk through Schenley Park, Frick Park, or anywhere else near you.
Alternatively, take a bike ride! This could be as transportation for the day or for a fun leisurely ride. Make sure to check out Pitt’s Biking Resources when planning your bike outing.
Don’t have a bike? Pitt employees and students can use The Healthy Ride bikes in Pittsburgh for free 30-minute rides!
Make some personal sustainability goals
Take some time during this day to make up a few personal sustainability goals: short-term, long-term, or both!
- Plant something! Increase the air quality in your home with an indoor plant or grow some fresh veggies in your backyard or plant a tree.
- Use reusable shopping bags: Did you know that plastic bags are used on average for only 10 minutes before they are thrown away? Help end the single use plastic problem by switching to reusable bags.
- Practice the three Rs: The three Rs are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle and they are super important-in that order!
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Use reusable cups and water bottles: This action can keep countless plastic bottles and coffee cups out of the landfill where they will sit for thousands of years.
Pitt’s Earth Day History
The University of Pittsburgh has been committed to the Earth and sustainability for many decades. Here is a list of some key moments in Pitt’s sustainability journey since the first Earth Day. This list is only a few of the highlights through the decades. Check out Pitt’s full timeline of its history committing to the Earth. Also, check out a full 50 year visual timeline and excerpts from Documenting Pitt on the University’s Earth Day events over the past several decades.
1970 – Teach-ins held on April 22nd, the first ever Earth Day, were a catalyst for the creation of the U.S. EPA and the amendments to the Clean Water Act.
2003 – Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) established as first Pitt sustainability-focused academic center.
2010 – Students create Pitt Green Fund, which finances student-initiated sustainability projects.
2013 – Pitt publishes inaugural “Report on Sustainability” highlighting sustainability initiatives across campus.
2015 – University of Thriftsburgh opens, an on-campus thrift store created and run by students.
2018 – The University’s Office of Sustainability is established
2020 – University of Pittsburgh commits to reaching carbon neutrality by 2037