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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Water Cooler: Earth Day activities for the whole family

April 20, 2021 Updated Tue., April 20, 2021 at 9:01 p.m.

Planting trees and gardening are two Earth Day activities that can provide multiple benefits to the surrounding ecosystem.  (Pixabay)
Planting trees and gardening are two Earth Day activities that can provide multiple benefits to the surrounding ecosystem. (Pixabay)

Earth Day is Thursday, and there are tons of different ways to celebrate it. Luckily for the Inland Northwest the weather is supposed to be sunny and fairly warm, so it is a prime opportunity to get outside and admire the environment.

Plant a tree - This is a classic Earth Day activity. If your family has been thinking about planting a tree in your yard, now is the perfect time. If you live in or near Spokane, you can join the Lands Council in planting trees at its Marshall Creek site between Cheney and Spokane. The efforts to plant trees will help revitalize the area’s wetland ecosystem. Planting trees provide multiple benefits to the surrounding ecosystem, and it is a great way to directly help your local environment. If you can’t get out to plant a tree, another way your family can participate is donating to an organization that plants trees, such as the National Forest Foundation, One Tree Planted or The Nature Conservancy, which has an active Washington chapter.

Pick up litter - You can find litter just about anywhere. Take a walk around your neighborhood or park and see if you find any litter to pick up. Be careful around high-traffic areas and make sure to wear gloves to avoid picking up germs or harmful substances from the trash. A grabber or reacher tool can help reduce stress on the lower back while picking up trash, and it is also handy for grabbing trash out of brush. Visit the Spokane County website ( to get a list of local organizations that host community litter cleanup events.

Enjoy a nature walk - Another thing you can do outside on Earth Day is to pay close attention to the nature that surrounds you. Try keeping a notebook to write down the various things you notice about your environment, such as the color and type of trees, flowers, grasses and other plants that you see.

Plant a garden - Whether your garden is one pot or a whole yard, growing vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants all benefit the environment. Visit the Spokane Conservation District site ( or the Spokane Master Gardener page on the WSU website to get details on all the types of native plants that thrive in our environment. You can use these lists to plan a vegetable garden or an ornamental garden full of plants that attract beneficial pollinators.

Have a car-free day - This is a fun challenge for Earth Day and makes us think about all the ways to get around without a car. Cars are so normal for our daily routine that going without them definitely shakes up the routine. If your family members have bicycles, you can ride as a family to your destination or just go around the block for fun. If something is within walking distance, try taking a stroll instead. Talk about how your day was different without a car. Which parts of it were difficult, and which parts of it were fun or enjoyable?

Create a craft from reused materials - Reusing materials is a great way to reduce waste. Try making a 3D painting of a daffodil by cutting up an egg carton. The shape of the egg-shaped crate is perfect for creating the center cup-shaped part of the daffodil. You can use a warm iron, with adult supervision of course, to melt shavings from old and broken crayons between wax paper to create a colorful sun catcher. Try cutting out shapes from an old newspaper or magazine to create images from nature, like the sun, flowers or trees.

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