YOU KNOW YOU’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE WHEN EVEN LOVABLE OL’ SPONGEBOB’S FULLY ABOARD. And when we’re talking venerable Earth Day, celebrating its forty-year anniversary this year, who isn’t? And if not, why not? And I say this with ambivalence as the mossy bandwagoneers are out in great force, swabbing many a deck, some probably not at all deserving, with a bright green sheen. But in this testy time of tea-party politics and residual Climategate blowback, we’ll take any heightened eco-awareness and Earth-directed cheerleading we can get. That said, you’ll find here an Earth Day list of things to do that you can do anytime; further regarding SpongeBob, his Earth Day special, “SpongeBob’s Last Stand,” airs Thursday at 8 pm/7 pm central.

#1 Spend some time off the grid.
You know, unplug, unbuckle and set yourself free … for a bit. The rat race/almighty hamster wheel will still be there when you get back, but perhaps you’ll have heard an inspirational songbird, meditated on world peace or the price of wheat, thought about family or friends you’ve been neglecting of late, imagined a cumulous the mighty prow of an ancient vessel or majestic whale’s tale, or walked a silent path on your lunch hour sans cell, iPod or other mechanical distraction. Feels good, doesn’t it?

#2 Start a great green book.
Okay, perhaps not one of your own devising, but one that will motivate and inspire and spur a dialogue with others. Here’re a couple candidates: Bill McKibben‘s got a new one, Eaarth (find out just what he’s got in mind with that extra “a”); James William Gibson‘s eco-fabulous book, A Reenchanted World, is just out in paperback; or revisit/discover a classic from Muir, Thoreau, Snyder, Carson, Leopold, Abbey, Berry, Han Shan, et al.

#3 Engage a stranger in a face-to-face conversation.
Forget—at least for a while—texting, online social media, e-mail and that ubiquitous cell, and say, HELLO, my name is ________. What do you think about _______? Pick a topic, any topic, but it’s Earth Day and its fortieth anniversary, so why not make it about our planet, ecology, the lives of plants and animals, what Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption, and resultant disruption, says about the world of today?

#4 Join a new environmental or socially responsible group and volunteer some time and/or money.
With the rampant economic upheavals that continue unabated (kind of like Eyjafjallajökull Clash of the Titansed-up to mega-Kraken proportions), even a soupçon of support can help. And there are a myriad of exceptional organizations out there fighting the good fight, locally, nationally, globally. Initiate your own web search or feel free to hit our Tilth Creative Collaborative list.

#5 Engage in some “Negawatt revolutionary” activity.
We’re not advocating some sort of apostasic militant anarchy here, but really just a simple rethink of the way you go about some of your everyday business: turning off lights when not in use, replacing traditional lightbulbs with CFLs, driving less, eating more that’s grown locally, etc. See our “The Negawatt Revolution Is Here and Now!” and “Energy Savings in Action” posts for lots more actionable details on creating these units of energy saved.

#6 Start planning your next holiday/vacation with eco-friendly considerations.
Try visiting a place like Glacier National Park rather than faraway Paris this summer. And if you can get there as fuel efficiently as possible, please do so. Glacier too far away? Check a regional gazetteer and visit somewhere closer to home.

#7 Plan your garden or start a garden for the first time.
What better way to get involved with the Earth than literally to get involved with earth! It’s still early to start planting, but never too early to start planning your new garden. What kind of veggies will thrive and where best in your plot of land (or community garden, if you lack the space yourself)? Ever try raised beds? What about an energy-efficient greenhouse DIY kit? If you’re in that new-to-gardening camp and hungry for tips, check out Oregonian scribe Kym Pokorny’s “Grow your own veggies: How to start an edible garden” story.

#8 Think “precycle” when it comes to what goes on your shopping list.
The less packaging the better, so keep that in mind when you’re getting ready to shop. I’m not advocating you go entirely bulk or buy everything in concentrate, but do you need a plastic bag for those three avocados (to, what, stop a border skirmish?)? a noncompostable container for those sprouts or to-go bagel and lox? pre-washed, already-chopped stir-fry veggies in a plastic container (c’mon, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle to buy the ingredients individually and prep them yourself)?

#9 Get directly involved with the Earth Day 2010 Campaign.
The Earth Day 2010 Action Center‘s the place to be. You can commit to Billion Acts of Green, RSVP to the Climate Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., taking place April 25, learn about campus and environmental arts events and programs, plus plenty more. You can also connect via Facebook.

#10 Use at least one “alternative” mode of transportation—and make a habit of it.
Can you walk, jog or bike to work or where you need to get to at some point during the day or evening? Can you leave the car at home and take the bus, light rail or turn that client meeting into a teleconference with PDFs shared electronically rather than paper printouts? Can you imagine a world with less smog and less stressful congestion? See our Green Dynamind post on bike sharing, “Cycle to Work—It’s the Law!,” for more on progressive thinking when it comes to transportation.

#11 Make every day Earth Day!
Arguably the no-brainer edict of the century, I believe, and an obvious embodiment of the golden rule, but sometimes acknowledgement, leading to perspective, awareness and action, can be everything.

Allen

ReboundWHETHER YOU CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS OR NOT, here are some gift ideas that we think capture the spirit of green without going overboard—in other words, you won’t find a carbon-offset certificate “elegantly” carved into a lump of coal or a solar-powered recycled-materials rabbit hutch/chicken coop “peaceful coexistence” backyard combo shelter (although wouldn’t that be something to set up with a web cam, see in harmonious action and learn from?!—UN, Hopenhageners and world leaders, please take note!).

WILSON REBOUND BASKETBALL “Think globally. Hoop locally.” Hoop it up with Wilson’s first green product, made from 40 percent recycled rubber. The packaging is 80 percent pre- and post-consumer board. A great way to get active and green simultaneously! Read More »

Reenchanged WorldBEFORE TAKING A BITE of James William Gibson‘s delicious new read, let me set the scene by revisiting a classic of enchantment that’s as fresh and evocative as ever, Thoreau’s Walden:

“We need the tonic of wilderness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”

I think this quote gets at the rather juicy heart of Gibson’s compelling and eminently readable Reenchanted World, published this spring by Metropolitan Books, a cautionary tale for the double aughts that judiciously includes a “Hope Renewed” coda. Read More »