From picking up trash to shopping local for reusable products, here’s how to be kind to the environment on Earth Day — and throughout the year.
by Jamaul Moore and Addie Ladner
There are so many ways to help Raleigh’s parcel of earth and beyond become thrive. Whether you’re heading to an educational festival, organizing a litter clean-up in your neighborhood, or reducing the waste you create in your day-to-day life, every simple act counts. To celebrate Earth Day, we’ve rounded ways you can help make Raleigh a little greener on and after April 22.
Flex Your Green Thumb
“It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for patiently (or maybe a bit grumpily) all winter long… Farmers markets suddenly feel like paradise, studded with the first ripe berries, tender spears of asparagus, ruffled lettuces, and a horde of hanging baskets vying for pride of place on our porches. April is a feast for the senses, and if you plan, shop, and plant thoughtfully now, you’ll savor the rewards even as spring melts into summer,” writes Hannah Ross in April’s garden column where you’ll find a breadth of tips to get your hands in the earth.
Take a Recycling Workshop at NC State University
As part of NC State University’s International Earth Week, the school’s Greater Good Textile group is hosting an number of both fun and education events including a workshop on how to recycle smarter.
April 20; 6-7pm | Free; 1020 Main Campus Drive; ncsu.edu
Hit the Trails
Even as Raleigh and the Triangle grow, we’re still lucky to have natural areas just minutes from downtown to take in earth’s gifts. Our extensive greenway systems offers more than 100 miles of paved pathways for bikers, joggers and runners. Raleigh city parks offer more than 10,000 acres of parkland for recreation, and nearby North Carolina State Parks and preserved areas offer forests, rivers, lakes and plains to explore. In honor of The Year of the Trail, we have gathered a selection of trails near Raleigh that work for any time of year or any style of hike, whether you want to see fall leaves, learn a little bit about North Carolina history, see the stars or just get moving as quickly as possible. Read on — then get going!
Cheer on the Wolfpack
If you enjoy a good softball game and rooting for the Wolfpack, then look no further than NC State’s Sustainable Softball Game. In honor of Earth day, the team will give away potted plants to the first 100 fans in attendance, as well as other sustainability-based announcements and activities. This game aims to bring awareness towards reducing waste, providing environmental education, and improving the wellness of our community.
April 22; 2pm | 2505 Cates Avenue; gopack.com
Party for the Planet at the NC Zoo
What a better place to honor Mother Earth than at North Carolina’s renowned zoo, which reminds us of the diverse habitats around the globe? To celebrate East Day, the Zoo is partnering with global recycling project Gorillas on the Line, which is celebrating its 5th Anniversary in 2023. Many cell phones and entertainment devices contain recyclable materials, which are sourced by strip mining in the African forests that gorillas call home, ruining their natural habitats. On Earth Day, bring in an old cell phone, tablet, iPod or MP3 player for recycling to reduce the amount of new materials needed for these devices. They’ll also be extra activities set up in the kids zone and throughout the park.
April 22; 9am-4pm | Purchase tickets online; 4401 Zoo Parkway; nczoo.org
Cook with More Plants
Spring in Raleigh is wonderful for its vibrant pink and white trees, sunnier days — and of course, its bounty of early season vegetables. Use Earth Day as an excuse to incorporate produce like like asparagus, lettuces and peas, which are in their prime and readily available at the farmers market. From elegant salads to a unique hummus to open-face sandwiches, give these vegetable-based dishes a try.
Try out Local, Eco-Friendly Home and Skin Care Goods
Fewer chemicals and a lower carbon footprint are at least two good reasons to elevate your home and skincare with these local brands. Swap your cosmetics for some locally made, plant-based ones from Ablutions Organic Skin Care, Good Juju Herbal, or the popular Burt’s Bees, a national that started in Durham. Replace your bug repellant with more formulas from Murphy’s Naturals. Enjoy a relaxing spa retreat at the Eco Friendly Beauty Bar, or create a spa treatment at home with products from their website. Cut down on plastic waste in your cleaning and hygiene products by shopping at Durham-based Fillaree, a producer of high-quality soaps, shampoos, and more that you can purchase in your own reusable containers to cut down on waster. Shop at Green4Life to find low-waste replacements for all your miscellaneous kitchen, bath and home goods.
A few years ago, Emily Neville, founder of Reborn Clothing here in N.C., talked to us about how clothing makes up a good chunk of our landfills with the rise of inexpensive, fast fashion. One of the most sustainable ways to shop is instead of buying something new, consider buying something vintage or thrifted from one of the local stores featured in our secondhand shopping guide.
Cut Back on Waste
Toward Zero Waste Raleigh is advocating for sustainability in the Raleigh-area and beyond through neighborhood cleanups, film screenings, sharing ideas to reduce waste, and more. Among them: grab some high-quality (and stylish!) reusable face masks from Edge of Urge to cut down on one-time mask use, or swap single-use items like plastic straws and grocery bags for these and these.
Plant a Row for the Hungry with Logan’s
Flex your green thumb while fighting local food insecurity through participating in Logan’s PLANT A ROW program by signing up to grow fresh produce to be distributed to the nearby community.
If you don’t have one already, receive a free recycling container from the City of Raleigh so you and your household can participate in the city’s free program. Not sure what’s recyclable? Check out this visual guide to what you can recycle in North Carolina.
Join the Great Raleigh Cleanup
First established in 2020, the Great Raleigh Cleanup is a group that meets three to four times a week to rid the greater Raleigh area of litter and better the environment. Since its establishment, the group has removed nearly 100,000 pounds of litter and other disposed material in the Raleigh area. If you want to help bring change to our local environment by ridding the city of litter, keep in tabs with this group. raleighcleanup.org
Wish Raleigh City Farm a Happy Bearthday
It’s Raleigh’s urban farm’s annual spring fundraising event — a dual celebration of its birthday and Earth Day! This year marks the twelfth year of Raleigh City Farm’s founding, and they can’t wait to show off recent site improvements and gather together as a community.
April 22; 10am-2pm | Free; 800 North Blount Street; raleighcityfarm.org
Race For the NC Aquarium
The 2023 Race for the Planet welcomes racers of all skill levels with a fun, no-pressure atmosphere to do something healthy for themselves and for the planet. Proceeds from this event will support the conservation and sustainability efforts of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. But you don’t have to drive to the aquarium to participate — just race around your own neighborhood.
April 24-30; starting 8 a.m. | $ 42; Virtual; ncaquariums.com
Head to Clouds Brewing for Earth to Raleigh! An Earth Day Festival
Join RUMAH (Raleigh United Mutual Aid Hub) and Climate Action NC for an Earth Day festival at Clouds. Featuring live music, local artists, community organizations, fun activities for kids, food trucks, there will also be a full line-up of performers, an artist market, a food truck, informational tables featuring nonprofits and other groups with resources, knowledge and activities centered around sustainability and environmental justice, and of course locally made beer.
April 30; 2-7pm | Free Admission | 1233 Front Street; details here
Eat More Plants
It’s been established that plant-based eating has a lower carbon footprint than a diet full of meat and dairy. Not sure it’ll taste that good? These restaurants will convince you. Irregardless was originally opened by Arthur Gordon in 1975, and is a true local farm-to-table restaurant where you can get hearty vegetarian dishes and also. “Today the nutrition experts are telling us that 50% of our diet needs to be fruits and vegetables,” Gordon said in an interview. Try out The Fiction Kitchen on S. Dawson Street’s plant-based creations like cornmeal-fried mushrooms, N.C. peanut bowls, or their seasonal salads. Raleigh Raw, also in downtown, has poke bowls, juices, hot beverages, and more to help “fuel the hustle,” as they say, in a healthful way.
Celebrate Mother Earth at Dix Park
Celebrate Earth Day weekend at Dorothea Dix Park at a community event in Flowers Field. Learn about local conservation with organizations like Carolinas Wetland Association and Wake County Beekeepers Association, play nature games with the kids and dine on dishes from food trucks like hibachi from Soulbachi, sweets from Kupkake Fairy and Mediterranean food from Gussy’s Greek. At 6:30 p.m., the City of Raleigh will be presenting its Environmental Awards and at 8:15, spread your picnic blanket and lawn chairs out for a screening of WALL-E.
April 22 | 5 – 10 p.m.; Free admission; 1030 Richardson Drive; dixpark.org
Walk for Umstead
Lace up your sneakers for the 2023 Walk/Run/Bike for Umstead, which includes a 4-mile walk or run, bike tour, silent auction, kids’ activities, music and food trucks. Cheer on your runner with breakfast from food trucks Buzzy Bakes and Vida Dulce. Along the trails, the Saint Francis Brass Quintet and Woodland Pipers will be supporting the walkers and runners with their sounds. Throughout the event, bid on silent-auction items from local artists, restaurants and shops. Funds raised from the day will go toward the William B. Umstead State Park, which offers more than 5,000 acres of waterways and trails.
April 22 | 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; From $20 for kids, $30 for adults; 6000 Reedy Creek Road; umsteadcoalition.org
This article was originally published in April, 2023 on waltermagazine.com