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7 Ways to celebrate Earth Day's 50th anniversary at home

  • 4/22/2020 1:44:00 PM
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While Earth Day may look a bit different this year, there are plenty of things you can do at home to mark its 50th anniversary!

Plan a pollinator garden or rain garden
Grab a notebook and start sketching your spring and summer landscaping plans - with pollinators and stormwater in mind. A rain garden features a shallow depression in the ground anchored with beautiful native plants, allowing it to capture runoff from hard surfaces like the roof, driveway and compacted lawns. The garden holds rain temporarily while plants soak it up; soil helps filter out pollutants and reduces runoff to storm drains. And the native plants in both rain gardens and pollinator gardens serve as important food sources for bees and butterflies.

Cut back on food waste
As we currently limit the number of trips to the store, being mindful of food waste holds extra importance. Iowans send more than 190,000 tons of unopened, untouched food to the landfill each year. By reducing the food you throw away, you’ll also save money on fewer groceries – up to $2,000 a year. Make a list of only what you need, and stick to it. If something goes bad earlier than expected, set up your own backyard composting operation.

Become a wild thing
Join DNR Conservation Officer Erika Billerbeck and her kids as they explore the woods in their backyard in the Wild Things video series - and find fun activities for the family you can do right at home - like building a beaver dam, learning frog calls and making maps of your favorite outdoor hideaways.

Save a drop and some cash
Save gallons of water by fixing leaky plumbing, taking shorter showers, turning off water when you're not using it (like during teeth brushing and your 30 seconds of hand washing). Save roughly one-third of the family’s water bill by replacing older fixtures and appliances. Look for WaterSense and ENERGY STAR labels when purchasing. Build a rain barrel to cut down on landscaping water use. Find more tips from the U.S. EPA at

Explore Iowa State Parks in your PJs
Watch special editions of Iowa Outdoors featuring state parks, along with "Iowa by Air" and "Trail in a Minute" videos with one-of-a-kind views of state parks on Iowa PBS. 

Upcycle your stuff 
Find creative new uses for old items, like repurposing an outgrown T-shirt into a cute tote bag, shotgun shells into a wreath and more. Find more ideas on our Upcycling board on Pinterest.

Clean out under the sink
If you’re spending some extra time cleaning out the garage or under the sink, check the labels. Gather up unused household hazardous materials to later take to a Regional Collection Center when they reopen. At RCCs, household solvents, pesticides, furnace thermometers and a host of other materials can be safely disposed.